Book Review: The Midnight Lullaby
“What happens when we die? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure we’ll still be together”
A ghost story that’s not at all what I expected (for better or worse…but mostly better).
SUMMARY: For years, Benedict Lyon has been living a lie. Not even his family knows the truth he’s been keeping from the world. Only Emmeline knows his secret—and she’s dead. When the matriarch of the Lyon family passes away, Benedict is summoned home for the funeral. Emmeline urges Benedict not to go, certain that if he returns to that house, neither one of them will escape. Their presence in the family home causes the spirit of Gloria Lyon to become restless, and as the remaining members of the Lyon family attempt to put their mother to rest, long buried secrets, some deadlier than others, are unearthed.
I love a subtle tale of tragedy and grief, but I also love a nonstop thrill ride of spooky scares. Rarely can books manage to handle both in a way that is balanced and believable, but The Midnight Lullaby certainly comes close!
This book covering a lot of ground in less than 200 pages, but it manages to do so in a way that hits a range of circumstances, conflicts, and emotions. Not everything lands perfectly, but what sticks is really good!
I really liked the set up of Benedict being the only member in a family full of exorcists who can’t see ghosts. It immediately allows for interesting conflict and character development. I also really liked the relationship between Benedict and Emmeline. I didn’t fully understand it at first, but as the story progressed I really began to care about them and the connection they have. It’s sad and beautiful, but it also leaves an undercurrent of ferocity and mystery to keep the book moving forward. By the end of the story, when I finally realized the full extent of what had happened to Emmeline and what was currently happening to the other characters, I was completely shocked and surprised.
The book also has a fair amount of family drama, which I didn’t expect but I ended up enjoying. The side characters might not be fully fleshed out, but their relationship to Benedict and each other pretty well is, and that’s what really matters here.
As far as spooky moments go, there were less than I expected. I had to adjust expectations as the first half of the book is fairly fright-free. But then a particular seance happens in the middle, and the scares and gore are quickly ramped up for the second half of the book. The climax and the resolution of the story are incredibly grim and depressing. So much so that it almost affected my rating of the book it was so dark. But after taking time to process and think about the book as a whole my qualms seemed to ebb and I ended up liking it quite a lot!
Overall rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Special thanks to publisher Grinning Skull Press for sending a copy in exchange for an honest review. If you want to learn more about Cheryl Low and her work then check out her website (http://cheryllow.com/) or follow her and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/cherylwlow/) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/cherylwlow).