Published by: Doubleday
Release Date: Apr 30, 2019
In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project – building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house – a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse – objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.
“The latest from McMahon is like a nesting doll - a thriller inside a murder mystery inside a ghost story - and will chill readers with every sideways glimpse of a passing shadow.”
– Library Journal
“Whether one believes in ghosts, McMahon’s consummately crafted chiller is guaranteed to haunt”
– Publishers Weekly
“The resulting blend of ghost story and modern mystery is flawlessly compelling and evocative. A masterful twist on the haunted-house story.”
“Jennifer McMahon’s latest premise is utterly chilling: Imagine you don’t stumble upon a haunted house, you build one. The Invited deserves a special spot in the canon of great ghost stories, and will remind McMahon’s readers why she is such a worthy literary descendant of Shirley Jackson.”
— Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of The Flight Attendant
May 19, 1924
It had started when Hattie was a little girl.
She’d had a cloth-bodied doll with a porcelain head called Miss Fentwig. Miss Fentwig told her things—things Hattie had no way of knowing, things that Hattie didn’t really want to hear. She felt it deep down inside her in the way that she’d felt things all her life.
One day, Miss Fentwig told her that Hattie’s father would be killed, struck by lightning, and that there was nothing Hattie could do. Hattie tried to warn her daddy and her mother. She told them just what Miss Fentwig had said. “Nonsense, child,” they said, and sent her to bed without supper for saying such terrible things.
Two weeks later, her daddy was dead. Struck by lightning while he was putting his horse in the barn.
Everyone started looking at Hattie funny after that. They took Miss Fentwig away from her, but Hattie, she kept hearing voices. The trees talked to her. Rocks and rivers and little shiny green beetles spoke to her. They told her what was to come.
You have a gift, the voices told her.
But Hattie, she didn’t see it that way. Not at first. Not until she learned to control it.
Now, today, the voices cried out a warning.
First, it was the whisper of the reeds and cattails that grew down at the west end of the bog—a sound others would hear only as dry stalks rubbing together in the wind, but to her they formed a chorus of voices, pleading and desperate: They’re coming for you, run!
It wasn’t just the plants who spoke. The crows cawed out an urgent, hoarse warning. The frogs at the edge of the bog bellowed at her: Hurry, hurry, hurry.
Off in the distance, dogs barked, howled: a pack of dogs, moving closer, coming for her.
And then there were footsteps, a single runner coming down the path. Hattie was in front of their house, an ax in her hands, splitting wood for the fire. Hattie loved splitting wood: to feel the force of the blows, hear the crack as the ax head hit the wood, splitting it right at the heart. Now she raised the ax defensively, waiting.