The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

The Ghost Notebooks

Ben Dolnick

"For all its curiosity about things that go bump in the night, the most notable features in The Ghost Notebooks are its qualities of light.” —Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire

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Belletrist Book of the Month

"[An] elegant, eerie new novel . . .  Powerful." —The Washington Post 


A supernatural story of love, ghosts, and madness as a young couple, newly engaged, become caretakers of a historic museum.

When Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe decide to move from New York City to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia, they aren't exactly running away, but they need a change. Their careers have flatlined, the city is exhausting, and they've reached a relationship stalemate. Hannah takes a job as live-in director of the Wright Historic House, a museum dedicated to an obscure nineteenth-century philosopher, and she and Nick swiftly move into their new home. The town’s remoteness, the speed with which Hannah is offered the job, and the lack of museum visitors barely a blip in their consideration.

At first, life in this old, creaky house feels cozy—they speak in Masterpiece Theater accents and take bottles of wine to the swimming hole. But as summer turns to fall, Hannah begins to have trouble sleeping and she hears whispers in the night. One morning, Nick wakes up to find Hannah gone. In his frantic search for her, Nick will discover the hidden legacy of Wright House: a man driven wild with grief, and a spirit aching for home.


Advance Galley Reviews

I am still trying to make up my mind exactly what The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick is about - a ghost story or a book about mental illness or a book about grief. The book does not provide the answers; as such, it is neither completely a ghost story or completely a book about mental health. However, it does presents the questions in a slow-paced, atmospheric manner to allow the reader plenty of the time to contemplate their own answers. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/04/the-ghost-notebooks.html Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program

This book was very dark and creepy. The premise is that a young couple moves to a supposedly haunted house in upstate New York. Nick really moves to satisfy Hannah, and the job that she wants as caretaker of this haunted home. Hannah begins to hear voices, and one night, Hannah simply disappears from the house. It is a mystery of what happened to Hannah. I liked the book. It was a bit hard to get into, but ultimately, I did enjoy it. I would give it about three stars.

This took me a long while to get into, and my interest waxed and waned, which made this a difficult book fr me to be all in on. I wanted more from this one and can't quite place my finger on why or where it would go.

The writing of this book was great, but I found it very slow and hard to keep my interest. The story was good once it moved along but getting to the good parts was difficult.

I love ghost stories. I love gothic stories. This book hits both those categories. Having said that, I didn't love this book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I felt that the ending was anti-climactic. I liked everything up to the ending, but when I finished the book, I thought "Wait, that's it?"

Hannah and Nick, a young engaged couple with relationship problems, move to an old house in upstate New York. The house is reputed to be haunted. Hannah has a history of mental illness, she begins to hear voices and then she suddenly disappears leaving Nick bereft. I'm not sure what this book was, certainly not an atmospheric ghost story. It's more the story of the role of mental illness in a relationship. The story is told from the point of view of Nick and might have been more interesting if we had also heard from Hannah. I can't say that I enjoyed this book, or even got the point of it, but I did manage to finish it. However, even for a short book, the story dragged. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The description of this book makes it seem right up my alley. However, this was not my cup of tea. I was wanting a good adventure and a good mystery. It felt more like a memoir.

"The Ghost Notebooks" was a rather hard book to actually get through for me. It's a bit too boring for me over all and we're lead through the story by someone removed from the action. It felt like I was a spectator of a spectator, not someone that needed to be invested in the actual plot or characters.

The Ghost Notebooks is the story of Nick Beron’s struggle with love, and loss. The author does an exquisite job capturing Nick’s grief, and guilt. The story starts slow, but there comes a point where you can’t put it down. That’s not to say it didn’t disappoint, because it did. I was expecting a harrowing tale of adventure. Instead I got a tame mystery where I felt removed from the action.

This book hooked me in and then lost me about halfway through. I really wish it was told from Hannah's point of view. I really feel the reader misses the action by having it told by Nick although I realize that is not the point. The point was to show the correlation between the Wright house and Nick. It was overall a pretty good book although it was a slower read for me.

Nick and Heather are tired.....tired of the city, tired of their apartment, tired of their lives. They need a chance of scenery. Heather applies for a job as caretaker at a museum in upstate New York and before they even realize it's really happening they are moving to Hiberia, NY. The museum is dedicated to an obscure and strange philosopher and writer, Edmund Wright. At first, living in the historic house is a nice change for them. They enjoy planning events for school kids, leading tours and walking in the woods. They learn a bit about Wright, the death of his son in an accident, and read some of his writing. Then things start to go wrong.....Heather develops severe insomnia, stops taking her medication, seems distant and upset, and starts hearing voices in the old house. Is the house haunted? Is she losing her mind? Then Heather disappears one day......and Nick's life will never be the same. After finishing this book I feel a bit like I'm back in college, sitting in the middle of a lecture hall for classic literature class, and the professor has called on me for my interpretation of some famous poem or line from a famously classic book. All eyes turn to me, and I have to admit.....I don't really get it. I have to be honest and say.....I read this entire book from beginning to end, waiting to see what was going to happen, what the answer was, what was in store for the characters.....and then it was over......and I just feel a bit puzzled and drained. But I think I understand.....this is a slog through the mire that is the human psyche and emotions. Anger, guilt, sadness, confusion, loss, depression, mental illness.....this is not a supernatural tale, but a very natural one. A raw peek into human nature, relationships, mental health and gut-wrenching loss. Sometimes there is no answer.....sometimes there are only questions and hard as hell reality. The story is well-written and interesting, but a bit too cerebral for me. And I'm unsure if what I take away from this book are the thoughts and feelings that Dolnick meant to inspire. The story builds quietly....and then jumps deep into the abyss that is mental illness, severe anxiety and suicide. Heavy stuff. I can't fault the book -- it's very well-written. I think the subject matter is just intrinsically uncomfortable. The atmosphere is creepy and the slow build of the story is strange and unsettling. But, that was the effect it was supposed to have on readers. Powerful story......but strange and uncomfortable. The author made his point, but I'm still strangely unsure exactly what it was. It's sort of like that strange prickling feeling you can get in a strange place.....like someone is watching you from just out of your sight....and the only thing you can think of is getting away and going somewhere light and sunny. Haunting and creepy......yet so real and human. **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Penguin via First to Read. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

This started out with great promise, but I just ended up feeling really disappointed. Everything is told through the fiance's perspective, which is one step removed from all the action - I was a spectator, which got boring by the last third of the book. Plus, there were just a few too many coincidences on the way to the fiance finding out what happened.

This is one of those reviews I'm having trouble writing. Partly because there isn't a lot of action in the book and the reason I actually liked it probably had more to do with the atmosphere in it and not the actual action. First I have to say I think the cover does this book a huge disservice. Had I not investigated more, I would have had no idea it was a horror read. Then again, nothing about it was really horrific so I think advertising it as horror is a disservice to readers. See, I'm all over the place already. "The Ghost Notebooks" tells the story of Nick and Hannah. They reside in New York but when Hanna gets laid off, she seeks a job as a museum curator/director of the Wright House - a local tourist attraction in Hibernia, New York. Since it is in a very remote location they actually live on the property as well and although Nick is hesitant at first, he knows Hannah needs a change and this move might just be what he needs to reignite his music career. Once Nick and Hannah arrive, strange occurrences begin to happen. Plus, Hannah sort of goes off the deep in but Nick accounts this to past mental issues and the fact that he learned she is off her medication. Then something happens that turns his world upside down and sends Nick down the rabbit hole of madness. I picked this book up on a whim as it was not my planned next read. It is quite slow at times, but that didn't really bother me because it coincided with the story and also, being a relatively short book, it didn't feel dragged out. I didn't really feel an intense connection with either Nick or Hannah, but did care enough about them to what to know what happens to them. I also remained curious about the Wright House and the secrets it held. The book is divided into three parts and to be honest, although the ending wrapped things up nicely, it felt like a let-down and probably contributed more the the 3/5 rating than anything else. The first and second parts definitely rated higher. If you like slower paced atmospheric reads, and you enjoyed "haunted" tales, then you might be interested in "The Ghost Notebooks." However, don't go into this expecting a lot of horror, or you will probably be most disappointed.

“Do you ever get scared just of being alive?” Hannah asks Nick. As with The Shining, a caretaker is needed for an isolated place, here a historic home/museum in Hibernia, NY. Anxiety, insomnia, visions, and a mental breakdown are already part of Hannah’s personal history when she accepts the position for the Wright Historical House. In turn, the house is the subject of legend and documented death. Nicholas, Hannah’s fiancé, narrates the events and leads us on a personal investigation hopefully to find a better truth, than the “good enough” truth he is handed after a tragic event. The story extends beyond death and delves into the mind’s battles with imagination, sanity, and actuality. This story doesn’t try to update The Shining; it is not necessarily about the evil that resides within humankind, but rather the desperation of living in this age of anxiety. There is a bit of Lincoln In the Bardo-esque examination of souls seeking means to reenter this realm, but again the treatment and exploration are different. Despite some easy comparisons, The Ghost Notebooks does more than recycle motifs. The plot starts slowly, providing necessary background and build up so that when bad things happen, suspension of belief is possible and the reader understands Nick’s thinking, even when his actions seem ill-fated. Nick and Hannah are a typical couple, each with personal issues as well as those that are relationship-specific, and some which are related to life in the big city, e.g., NYC. Bits of personal history, moods, worries, and the usual things that come with flesh and bone are introduced and are key to plot outcomes. Nick’s music career started and stalled, leaving him idling in a somewhat drab music technical position. Hannah is axed from her job due to budget cuts. They begin to claw at each other as she becomes increasingly bored, and their relationship may have hit its limit. A renewal of purpose and commitment arises when Hannah is hired as Wright Historic House’s caretaker/director/educator, which requires relocation. Slowly, almost hesitantly, an uncomfortable feeling develops, the mood darkens, small yet barbaric thoughts and actions occur. New life simply cannot thrive in this place. Hannah’s own history of mental illness creates a blur between what is happening and what may be happening. Nick’s efforts to give Hannah respectful space weigh against what needs to be done, and a different, newer level of distress develops. At the heart of the trouble is Edmund Wright, after whom the historic house is named and the catalyst for the psychological horror within the house. On the surface, he was a scholarly man wanting a quiet life of research and writing, and who suffered a tragedy when his young son was accidently killed. He may or may not have been experiencing psychotic episodes, and there may or may not be spirits who inhabit occupants of Wright’s house. This book diverges from the generic horror tale through Wright’s psychological studies. Wright had been penning a two volume encyclopedia that riffs on Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. One volume listed pleasant memories and experiences, the other lists unpleasant sensations and events. They are relatable and further blur the line between imaginary and real. Ultimately, Wright was trying to answer a question that even when reduced to bifurcation has variable complexities: “Was life, despite its myriad difficulties, an unfathomable wonder, as his pious and tenderhearted mother would have it? Or was it a Boschian array of horrors, punctuated only by inadequate bits of relief, as his revered but unstable father tended to believe?” While the idea of simply listing or indexing feelings seems pallid, at least it provides comfort in its orderliness, and comfort is much needed here. Nick’s voice is convincing, even compelling, but his actions create a sense of dread that is well justified. The careful plot crafting keeps the reader guessing and second guessing. The interplay between happiness and unhappiness and the tension between feeling and fact move this novel closer to literature than escapist fiction. I kept turning the pages, hoping that Nick would find the better truth.

If the person you love seems to have a supernatural experience, do you believe? What if that person has a history of mental illness? And you’re a pretty average mid-twenties guy who works in the music industry, living in New York, who finally met a girl he really loves? Wouldn’t you want to believe that there was some explanation for everything going wrong? The Ghost Notebooks is clever and brief. I enjoyed every chapter and read it in three sittings. Would highly recommend.

Caretaking a place, has its slightest share of supernatural power, can't go wrong, right? Even if the Caretaker has his own slightest of..psychic issues..right?! Then what went wrong here at this Ghost infested Historic House? ----- Well, it's not “Shinning” Horror, & not much a true "Gone Girl" mystery.. But it's an excellent Psychological Novel/Notebook..of feelings and Human Sensations; love, comfart, stress, anxiety, grief...A Notebook of life, Past,future & death.. it experience phases of life, in a very strange and interesting way... "" “Was life, despite its myriad difficulties, an unfathomable wonder, as his pious and tenderhearted mother would have it? Or was it a Boschian array of horrors, punctuated only by inadequate bits of relief, as his revered but unstable father tended to believe.” "" With so many situations that you can easily feel related to, ever wonder how do you feel about getting really too old and fragile? Ever felt in loss, Should I go on with this job?, this wedding?...this life? "" “there is, I think, a special gloom that comes with wedding planning. It may just be the realization that the traps you watched swallow up a thousand people before you are going to swallow you up too.” "" ------------- Let's see briefly the High and low points in this Novel/Notebook Part by Part. . Part One (2.5 ???) ---------------- . It's more the narrator/protagonist "Nick" telling how he choose to settle down in a real engagement/marrying commitment with his girlfriend Hanna... parents v protective due to her post-collage seeious Stree issues. She takes Caretaker job at a 19 century philosopher Historic House... who dealt with intense study of Human Sensations....and Ghosts.. . With no Horror nor Ghosts encounter, just Drama, with touch of romance, and a heavy psychological atmosphere, goes this part.. till the Missing Girlfriend happens.. . The narrating was a bit ranty , many parenthesis lines. But the good thing that after every chapter there's this varity of stranges pages, from Edmond Wright letters and dairies or books.. or strange bizarre different kind of daires...-seems belong to Hanna but written in a strange way and doesn't seem accurate.. . But then comes... . Part Two (4.5 ?????) ------------------ . To avoid spoilers I won't talk about what happened here... but every way you may think the story will takes from Part One will come crushing here... It takes a very different route...and it surprised me... . The psychological way the narrator/protagonist dealing with the events is amazingly written...very real and sarcastic.. "" “Almost every single person at a funeral believes that their being there is a kind of lie, that while everyone else is feeling the exact degree of grief recommended by the American Psychiatric Association, they alone are worrying about whether this will end in time for them to make their train.” "" Very accurate psychologically.. "" “There’s a moment, after you wake up from a nightmare, when you realize: Wait, so I don’t have to worry about any of that.” ~~~~~~~~~ “What I felt, reading this and the pages after, was a more distressing version of the thing you feel when you catch a glimpse of yourself on a store’s surveillance TV. Does my hair really do that in the back? Could that slump- shouldered stranger really be me?” "" It's more funny amidst all the hard parts too..-and here a quote that funny and show u how ranty the narrating is- "" “There were, at that point, two other people with me in the waiting room— a skeletal teenage girl reading a Game of Thrones paperback so thick it was almost cubic, and a fortysomething woman with curly hair and glasses who I took to be the skeleton’s mother.” "" BUT the plus here is the mystery, so interesting. And here the novel made HUGE potential for how it could be concluded... "" “ I could either die or I could find out why (spoiler) Curiosity is responsible for as many saved lives as penicillin.” "" . Well, that leads us to ; . Part Three (2 ??) ---------------- . Here where the mystery meet your plainest expectations... The narrating back to be less interesting -if not pointless- concluding the story with bit of Romance touch... . It sure has its creepy idea of Ghosts... it's the title after all, "" “ In my student days I read of a species of caterpillar that was prone to a most frightful misfortune. This sorry caterpillar would on occasion be attacked by a small & vicious wasp who, in the course of his assault, would lay a great many eggs in the caterpillar’s abdomen. The wasp’s eggs would then proceed, by some chemical means, to control the caterpillar’s movements, inducing it to gather precisely the type of nutriment they craved. Once the eggs had matured sufficiently, they would come pouring forth from the caterpillar’s underbelly, a hellish horde . . . Thus do I, at the end of my researches, having spent all the fall playing host to spirits, find myself husked & destroyed.” "" but it's really more psychological novel.... has its moments of creepiness...sadness...romance..mystery...uncommon interesting chapters styles. And it really could have made more of all that if concluded with extra thriller. . Thanks to Penguin First to Read Program, . Mohammed Arabey From 28 Jan.2018 To 1 Feb. 2018

I can't quite decide if this book was genius or awful, or somewhere in between. The plot takes multiple turns and none of them are quite developed enough to feel like the author knew what he was doing, yet at the end of the book I wasn't disappointed. At most its worst, it felt like a 500 page book that was cut in half. At it's best it was a pretty compelling ghost story.

Dolnick's book sounds like one that should read like a horror/thriller, but ends up as the protagonist Nick's heartbreaking story of following his partner's descent into the madness of knowing. It is a very slow burn to start, with Nick's hyper-detailed retelling of their life in New York City quickly transitioning into their life in Hibernia, New York, where she takes a job as director of the Wright Historic House. As much as I wanted to read about the ghosts that haunt the home of the late Spiritualist, what largely took place on the page was Nick not asking enough questions of his fiancée, coming out tragically on the other end. The Ghost Notebooks is written with incredible attention to detail, and was surprisingly poetic at times, especially as Nick describes Hannah's increasing detachment to their relationship and reality itself. The interstitials, written by Wright and the previous museum directors about Wright and his home, didn't connect with me as a reader and seemed unnecessary to the story, almost to its detriment. There were other interstitials, written by an unknown hand, which are crucial to the climax of the story, but are unpunctuated and don't occur with a pacing that supported the mystery. Overall, the story was trying to achieve too many things and would have been significantly better if it was more focused in its direction. What it did do wonderfully is wrap its arms around extraordinary loss, and the psychology behind individual bereavement.

The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick was a combination of the most detailed descent into grief and madness ever written and a heartwarming story of love and salvation.  I started reading this book with high hopes.  The blurb makes it sound like something that keeps you on the edge of your seat, however I found that wasn't quite the case. Initially, the book reads as a simple memoir.  A recounting of a man's life.  The beginning is a very long set-up, wherein Dolnick delivers excruciating details on the minutiae of Nick and Hannah's lives, from their meeting to their careers.  The entire first (nearly half of the book) section is devoted to this...staging what leads up to the encounters with spirits and the disappearance of Hannah from Nick's life.  There were points where I was tempted to skim, but the writing was beautiful despite the somewhat boring subject matter, and I would find myself drawn back in, over and over. The writings of Wright at the beginning of each chapter seemed to serve no purpose, though reading them is highly recommended due to the nature of Part 3 of the book.  Also, the stream-of-conscious writings that head up random chapters are DEFINITELY necessary to read, despite the difficulty in lack of punctuation. Dolnick's handling of mental illness is masterful.  The contrast between Hannah's nearly invisible illness and Nick's very in-your-face grief and subsequent spiral is amazing, and neither one appears to be more or less tragic for it.  The suffering of both characters exists without comparison.  At times, you wonder what would have been different had Hannah been more open?  Others, you wonder if the reason for her lack of candor regarding her illness is because Nick is oblivious to her suffering.  The interpersonal relationship becomes more convoluted after Hannah disappears, as Nick begins to realize just how little he knew her...and then you have to wonder how much of that spurs on his own devolution.   I spent most the book in a state of confusion, crafting plausible and not-so-plausible theories on what happened to the characters (major and minor) that would get supported or rejected as the book progressed.  It wasn't until, perhaps, the last 1/3 of the book that things started to pick up and the thriller part really got going.  The last 100 pages were definitely fast-paced (but still with bouts of "WHEN WILL IT END" that seemed to detract somewhat from the pace.  The ending was both a relief and a bit of a disappointment, as the lead-up was so dramatic, it was almost an anti-climax.  However, I actually like that the question of what happened to Nick is left open.  It would have felt completely out of place to have the whole of the story wrapped up.   Overall, the pacing was somewhat erratic, but that almost lends a higher level of credibility to the whole story.  I would probably say that this is somewhere between a 3 and 4 star book.  The compelling story making up drastically for the strange pacing.  I am not sure who I would recommend this to, but I'm sure I know a few existentialists who would appreciate it.

Ben Dolnick has written a captivating book that both is fascinating and troubling. It's a slow moving book that highlights mental health and suspense in a way that isn't reminiscent of a psychological thriller, but just enough unanswered questions to keep you turning the page. This isn't your typical "ghost story" except to emphasize the ghosts we all carry with us. Anyone who has experienced real grief can relate to this story as a whole. This was a solid read and worthy of your time.

This book had a lot of promise, but unfortunately, it fell a little short of delivering. It tells the story of Nick and Hannah and their move from New York City to rural NY state to run a historical house museum. The house effects Hannah in lots of troubling ways and pretty soon, tragedy strikes. For me, neither the supernatural/spectral nor the human drama of the plot were dealt with satisfyingly. There were brief glimpses of what could have been but I felt that the author just didn't explore things in enough depth. Consequently, I was left feeling disappointed. I found some of the characterisations quite troubling too. The book deals with mental illness, which is to be commended, but I did find some of the portraits of those suffering a little stereotypical. There are the bones of a really good novel here, but there's not enough meat on them. I received a free copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I would like to thank Penguin House on the Advanced Reading Copy of The Ghost Notebooks. I was expecting a suspense/ paranormal novel but was quite surprise to find a love story with a twist of issues in mental health. The story begins with Nick detailing their lives; their aspirations when they first got together, their life as we know it now, and how their journey began becoming caretakers of the Wright Historic House. The book started off with a slow pace and continued until close to the end where it finally picks up. I will say it was hard to actually understand Hannah through Nick's narration. The Ghost Notebooks is a good read if you are looking for something different.

This book kept you guessing with all the little twists in it. However, I felt that some of the characters weren't as developed as they should have been. I found it odd that no one seemed to be looking for Nick after he escaped from the Hospital he had been in. You never really heard anything else from Donna after he fled from her house, either. I felt it ended rather abruptly as well. Almost as if the author had run out of ideas or wasn't exactly sure how to end it. Overall, it wasn't a bad book.

This book was decent overall, but it felt underdeveloped as far as character development goes and the ending did not feel organic... more contrived. It’s possible that this just isn’t my flavor. I can think of several people who would love it though!

I absolutely loved this book. It kept me interested from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down. The characters were well developed and the prose was excellent. Not a fan of the cover, but the book itself is fantastic.

I wasn't sure what to expect with the ARC of this book and I was pleasantly surprised. Nick and Hannah are in a stalemate with their relationship and are at either a point that they need to end things, or they need to further commit to the future. When Hannah decides to take a job at the Wright House in the middle of nowhere, Nick comes face to face with the legacy of the place as he tries to find Hannah. This book is full of feelings, whether they be dark like horror or having a mental illness.

Overall, I liked this book. It went in directions I wasn't expecting. But ultimately it felt undeveloped, almost like the writer ran up against a deadline and had to submit it even if it wasn't done. The ending felt rushed to me.

I expected this to be sort of a spooky ghost story. I didn't expect what it actually was. It opens like just another relationship on the rocks book, but turns into something else. It was tragic and you don't get a neat, happy ending. It kind of leaves you hanging at the end. I feel like it started slow, but once I got into it, I really wanted to know where it was going. Interesting book, not something I would normally pick up, so I'm glad I did!

This was a page turner from beginning to end. I raced to get through it to find out what happened. The description I read before picking the book was nothing compared to the story itself. It's a ghost story, but not a scary one. I would definitely recommend! Thanks First to Read for my advance copy.

I don't think the description provided for this book really does the story justice. I went into this expecting a spooky, romantic story, and was very, very surprised. Yes, The Ghost Notebooks is a ghost story, but not at all in the traditional sense. But the uniqueness of this story really works. It draws you in and keeps you guessing until the very end. Rather than being your typical, creepy, spooky ghost story, Nick and Hannah's story is tragic.  When Nick and Hannah move to upstate New York to become the caretakers of a historic house, they have no idea what's in store for them. The first portion of the book actually ends up being an interesting exploration of young, troubled love, and it's fascinating to see the inner-workings of Nick and Hannah's relationship through Nick's eyes. The move, at first, seems like a great thing for the couple, but when Hannah wakes up in the night claiming that she hears whispers, things start to go awry. Hannah has dealt with mental health issues in the past, so Nick is worried, but not overly worried. He believe she's still in contact with her psychiatrist, and that she's doing everything she should be to manage her health. But when Hannah disappears, it calls into question everything Nick believed (or chose to believe) about her state of mind. Mental illness and sanity/insanity are major themes, especially in Part Three of this book.  I don't know what else I can say about The Ghost Notebooks without giving away major plot points. This story is beautifully written and haunting. There are twists and turns and the nature of the plot keeps you guessing at what's actually going on until the very end. This is not your typical horror novel, but it has it's spooky and creepy moments. I definitely recommend this unique book.

Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe are a young couple who decide to undergo a drastic change of scenery. They find their relationship stuck in a rut as well as their careers and aspirations. They get engaged and move from New York City to a small, rural upstate town of Hibernia where Hannah takes a job as a live in caretaker/director of the Wright Historic House. The Wright house is a small museum dedicated to a local nineteenth century philosopher. At first Nick and Hannah love the change of pace and enjoy the coziness of their new home, the infrequent visitors and the activities they get to plan for the town. As time goes on Hannah becomes plagued with sleeplessness, begins hearing whispers and becomes less and less like her normal self. Then one morning Hannah goes missing and Nick discovers the disturbing truth of the Wright House. I really enjoyed this book, and like many I was expecting a horror/suspense novel but this book was so much better than that. It was touching to see the extent someone would go to and jeopardize their own mental health, safety and well being to uncover the truth about a loved one and set them free. I like that this book isn't too long of a read but its packed with everything I felt i wanted and needed to know before its ending. The author did a great job of creating tangible characters in a ordinary flawed relationship and the mental anguish that can be caused by the loss of a loved one. I loved that fact a supernatural ghost story was thrown into the mix because together it made one interesting story. It was a nice twist on your typical " We moved into a haunted house" story. I wouldn't recommend for anyone looking for any crazy scary or suspenseful ghost stories because that's not what this was meant to be. Its one of those books you read that just seems to be so full of sadness and grief but then a light at the end of the dark tunnel appears and ends in beauty and you find yourself happy you finished it.

This is a wonderful ghost story but not a traditional ghost story. No horror, no bumps in the night. It asks the question; if you live in a place where spirits are trapped, and they show you their lives, and then show you your own future does that future bore you so much that you can't bear to live it? Also, can grief be so overpowering that you'll gladly risk your own mental state, even your own life to set it free? This story kept me spellbound and guessing

This book completely surprised me. I expected to read a horror/suspense book about ghosts. It's not that at all. Which is a good thing. The fact that it was different pulled me in. The writing style and story did as well. I didn't expect the ending and didn't figure out the passages that were before the chapters until the end. A lot of books tend to use the same type of storyline, with the same or similar plot points. This book didn't do that; which was a breath of fresh air. It's a wonderfully written story.

When I saw the title of this book I thought it was a typical ghost story, but it is not. I enjoyed the different perspective of the book and it was very thought provoking as well. I liked the snippets at the beginning of each chapter and thought I had figured out who they were from but I was totally wrong.

Thanks Penguin's First-to-Read program for this ARC. This novel is psychedelic, scary, and sad. The past, present, and future of the inhabitants in one house come together and apart in the medium of writing. It's a horror/relationship/memoir.

A ghost story told from a different perspective. Delightful and thrilling , couldn't put it down.

Full review on Polaroid Prose I've seen a few reviews on Goodreads putting this book down just because it doesn’t fit the traditional genre conventions of Horror and Suspense. But, like… this book is SO MUCH MORE than that. When reading The Ghost Notebooks, I often felt like I was reading two distinctly different stories that were all wrapped up in perfect halves and contained in Ben Dolnick’s novel The Ghost Notebooks. The first half is like a portrait of a millennial couple shot on old school, analog film sans the façade of perfection achieved by digital retouching, and yet, every blemish and imperfection is glossed over with a creamy finish and nostalgic grain. Dolnick gives us a pure, unrefined, raw snapshot of a troubled relationship between two young people caught up in the forward motion of time. The second half of the book is a frantic and riveting attempt at recovering the first. The Ghost Notebooks is like a terrible and beautiful memory, almost forgotten. Nick and Hannah are on the brink of 30; their friends are getting married in uninteresting cities, they’ve traded their dreams in for dead-end jobs, and they are sick and tired of NYC. When they move upstate to the small town of Hibernia to become caretakers of a historic estate, suddenly their lives become anything but ordinary—After a brief stint of small-town living, Hannah suddenly disappears, and Nick launches on a quest to uncover the secrets she left behind. Nick, the narrator, was somehow aloof, funny, ignorant, and contemplative all at the same time. His development from subdued to neurotic was believable and sympathetic. Hannah’s character, told through the eyes of Nick, was straightforward at first and secretive and complex at second glance. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good ghost story but doesn’t care about adhering to strict genre conventions. Honestly, this is a book I will be digging into again in the future. I think Dolnick has some great stuff to say about the nature of relationships, mental health, and anxieties about the future (and about the past) in this book.

Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe live together in a small New York apartment. Their relationship is strained, Hannah loses her job at the museum, Nick's career is going nowhere and both of them are avoiding the topic of marriage. When Hannah is offered a job as live-in director of the Wright Historic House, they move to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia in hopes of starting fresh. The museum is dedicated to an obscure nineteenth-century writer and philosopher Edmund Wright. There are rumors that the house is haunted and that Edmund Wright was involved in the occult after repeatedly being visited by his son's spirt. Everything seems to be going well until Hannah begins to have trouble sleeping and begins to have a mental and physical decline in health. When Hannah goes missing, Nick's torment and grief will lead him to discover the legacy of the Wright House. The Ghost Notebooks is more of a gothic literary horror novel. It focuses more on the historical events surrounding the home as it explores Edmunds journals as he recounts his experiences in the house. If you prefer ghost stories that focuses more on tragic events with an occasional creepy vibe then I would recommend this novel if not you are going to find this a rather boring horror novel.

I read this book obsessively and couldn't put it down until I saw how it all ended. It wasn't what I expected, but Ben Dolnick expertly weaves a great story with themes of the supernatural, mental illness, the nature of love and grief, and the ties that bind. Nick and Hannah weren't always sympathetic characters, but they were always believable. I wish there had been a final chapter to wrap up what happened with the secondary characters to tie things up more. Thanks to Penguin and First to Read for a chance to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

I was surprised how much I liked The Ghost Notebooks! I expected this to be a haunted house story, so in that way it was a little disappointing. However, the author's writing style is so engaging that I found myself lost in the story many times. At once conversational and poetic, the language and format is interesting enough to make the book a worthwhile read. The story itself is rather heartbreaking. Mental illness is never pretty, and in this case it becomes a major theme in the story. Sanity is relative, you might say. Though the title is a bit deceptive, the overall book is decent.

 


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