“In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.
Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.
Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.”
My Thoughts: Cat Winters does an excellent job blending historical fiction with fantasy in her latest creepy thriller. Yesternight explores the possibility of reincarnation and the ramifications of such on family members as well as the person reincarnated while also showcasing the very real social limitations placed on women, their behaviors, and their options in the early 1930s. It is a hodgepodge that works well together, as both Alice as well as the focus of her research are on the fringes of societal acceptance.
Alice is a terrific heroine. Tough, gutsy, not afraid to flout convention, willing to go the extra mile for the students’ welfare, able to expand her acceptance of what is impossible versus possible – she exhibits a strong empathetic vein but also generates empathy within the readers. Women especially can understand the fine line between acting according to social norms while also breaking through a glass ceiling. Alice does so with delicacy and an understanding of the importance of reputation. At the same time, the students within her jurisdiction remain her top priority, and she does what it takes to maintain that.
The situation in which she finds herself is both spooky and intriguing. Ms. Winters presents Janie’s gifts in a manner that is both compelling and believable. This plausibility is particularly chilling as she explores her own personal demons. For underneath that tightly controlled exterior lies a woman troubled by a violent past. The question as to whether her penchant for violence is related to some childhood trauma or something more is a bonus side to the story
Yesternight does not seem like it is a scary novel, and yet the unexplained coincidences between Kansas and Janie and Nebraska and Alice are enough to cause readers to burrow under the safety of the covers just a tiny bit further than normal. However, it is the ending which leaves readers wanting to sleep with the lights on. There is more than a hint of the macabre in the conclusion, and the unanswered questions do nothing but serve as a jumping off point for an already stimulated imagination. In Yesternight, Ms. Winters creates the type of atmospheric Gothic novel which befits the time of year and sets minds racing about the possibilities of unknown phenomenon. In other words, it is an excellent choice for a spooky October novel.