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The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel

Repeat author

Simone St. James is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Murder Road and The Book of Cold Cases and The Broken Girls.

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Simone St. James

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Quick take

A creep-tastic ghost story where a woman finds the run-down motel her aunt was last seen in. And it's def haunted.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Supernatural


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Scary


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish



Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Sun Down Motel.
The Sun Down Motel

Fell, New York
November 1982


The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.

That was fine with her. She preferred it. It was something she’d discovered, working the night shift at this place in the middle of nowhere: Being with people was easy, but being alone was hard. Especially being alone in the dark. The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s own thoughts—that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.

Still, she pulled into the parking lot of the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York, and paused, feeling the familiar beat of fear. She sat in her beat-up Cavalier, the key in the ignition, the heat and the radio on, her coat huddled around her shoulders. She looked at the glowing blue and yellow sign, the two stories of rooms in two long stripes in the shape of an L, and thought, I don’t want to go in there. But I will. She was ready, but she was still afraid. It was 10:59 p.m.

She felt like crying. She felt like screaming. She felt sick.

I don’t want to go in there.

But I will. Because I always do.

Outside, two drops of half-frozen rain hit the windshield. A truck droned by on the road in the rearview mirror. The clock ticked over to eleven o’clock, and the news came on the radio. Another minute and she’d be late, but she didn’t care. No one would fire her. No one cared if she came to work. The Sun Down had few customers, none of whom would notice if the night girl was late. It was often so quiet that an observer would think that nothing ever happened here.

Viv Delaney knew better.

The Sun Down only looked empty. But it wasn’t.

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Why I love it

I try not to make grandiose predictions, but if The Sun Down Motel is any indication of the quality of thrillers we can look forward to in 2020, then we are on the cusp of a very, very good year for reading. Simone St. James has crafted a winning recipe: start with a nod to the Stephen King small-town setting, add a pinch of domestic suspense, throw in a dash of amateur sleuthing, and stir until the spirits slither out.

Carly is a young woman on the hunt for her aunt, who went missing a few decades ago. Her detective work takes her to the sleepy backwater town of Fell, New York, where she tries to retrace her aunt’s steps by taking the same night clerk job that the woman occupied at a decrepit old motel called The Sun Down. Yes, this is the part in the book where you’ll be screaming at the main character to pack her bags and get the hell out of there; naturally, she does no such thing. Instead, she starts putting her nose where it doesn’t belong and getting acquainted with the motel’s ultra-creepy history, as well as a few of its unwanted, supernatural guests…

This is one of my favorite reads of the last few months: a propulsive mystery with some freaky elements that is also a proper spookfest. For a uniquely scary tale that is the very definition of fun, look no further than The Sun Down Motel.

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Member ratings (33,090)

  • Ali C.

    Lakeland , FL

    Shocked! Shocked x 2. Shocked x 3. Shocked x 4. Shocked x 5. Shocked x 6. Shocked x 7. Shocked x 8. SHOCKED! sHoCkEd! ShOcKeD! shocked! Thrilled! SHOCKED… SHOCKED!?!?!? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Paige M.

    Clearwater, FL

    Read this in two days! I wouldn’t normally be into the paranormal addenda, however this book was so well written with past/present foreshadowing! Great for a quick and thrilling g read! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Sarah N.

    Louisville, KY

    LOVED this book!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ live the sheer determination of both Viv and Carly. The fuel timelines was done really well. Enjoyed the ghost story and true crime aspects!!! Will read more for her ????

  • Courtney B.

    Sacramento, CA

    Did I stay up all night reading this because I couldn’t put it down? Yes! The alternating views move the story along, some twists and some romance, and ghosts! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Loving Simone St James!

  • Kaytlyn S.

    Fountain, NC

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, I have had some time to sit on this one, and that is that I was not expecting what I got! This was my second Simone St. James novel I’ve read and it was just almost as PERFECT!!!!!!!

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