In the Garden trilogy: Blue Dahlia

Imagine a wild-eyed ghost that appears night after night in your baby’s nursery and sings it lullabies while it rocks in a creaky chair. Scared? Not so much?

I still remember reading my first Nora Roberts, even though I don’t remember which one it was.  It was a hot summer’s day when I was in college and I was shaking down people in search of something to read when my long-suffering roommate handed me a Nora Roberts with a rather “go read” expression. And since then I’ve read so many of her books that I can actually detect patterns in stories and characters. And then once in a while you read a really good story. For me, the In the Garden Trilogy has to be amongst the best Nora Roberts I have read.

Tracing the story of an old Southern house, In the Garden is the story of the people who live in the house and the ghost who refuses to be ignored; and the legacy they explore and create together.

Not every fantasy writer can do a good ghost story. And personally, there’s nothing more disappointing than a ghost story that fails to give you the chills. And that’s one of the things I loved about this series; the right back story to the ghost and the perfect visual descriptions of her hauntings combine to create a truly great read.

Book one, Blue Dahlia tells us the story of Amelia Ellen Connor who lived in the late 1800s in Tennessee and was “an ambitious mistress” – young, beautiful and cold. Until, that is, she gave birth to a baby. Something that was not in her plans. But what she’d bargained for even lesser was the  overwhelming love she felt for this young creature. But little did she know that she’s about to lose her baby…

Cut to present day when newly widowed mom, Stella finds herself in need of a fresh start. Grieving the death of the love of her life and with two young sons who need her, she finds herself at the intimidating Harper House about to meet its current mistress with a reputation that precedes her. What she didn’t to get with the job and shelter is the company of the resident ghost who suddenly is not content to lie low in the background.

Blue Dahlia is Stella’s story in the Harper House and definitely worth a read.

I’d give this one a 4/5.

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