Review: Love Notes from Vinegar House – Karen Tayleur

Love Notes from Vinegar HouseSynopsis from Goodreads.

“There are some things you should know about me if we are going to be friends. Like I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Freya Jackson Kramer has done some stupid things before, but this is the first time they’ve been splashed across Facebook. When she escapes to Vinegar House for the holidays, she thinks she’s leaving her troubles behind. But Freya’s troubles are just beginning.

How will she deal with her manipulative cousin, Rumer? How can she avoid the ex-love of her life, Luke Hart? And what secrets lie in the locked attic? This is a book for readers who believe in ghosts, for readers who disbelieve, and for those who are still sitting on the fence.

I read this book a while ago so this review is probably going to be a bit scant, so please hop on over to read Mandee’s review. It’s a lot more in-depth and less rambly and it was the review that convinced me I should buy it!

Just behind my house (well, up a few roads), there are some hills and at the bottom of those hills there’s this old Roman road. I don’t know whether it actually is a Roman road, but that’s what we used to call it… so it must be true. Anyway, it’s the kind of road where there are always murky puddles even if it’s not rained for a few weeks and patches of the surface that have eroded away so you can see the original cobbles (Hiii history geeks). And there’s a wire fence where sheep, cows and horses come over and stare at you while you walk by.

At the end of this road, behind all the posh farms that have the most gorgeous houses you can imagine, is this old cottage-shed thing. And I was (past tense, obviously) adamant that it was haunted. My friends and I used to climb through the nettle patch and dare each other to look through the smudged, cracked window. Because inside were piles and piles of old furniture, draped with white sheets and stacks of dusty books.

It was obviously just a place where the owner (or GHOSTS) had decided to use as a storage place but you should’ve heard the stories we came up about it.

Anyway, the point that I’m attempting to make is that I love ghost stories because they’re such wonderful fodder for imagination. I love the way they start off as something small and then snowball until your imagination is firing off in all directions, filling in the blanks and completely freaking yourself out. I love getting so frightened that I would hurdle over a style in flowery culottes, ignoring the sting of nettles and brambles, because I had convinced myself I’d seen a ghost standing over a dead body amongst the dust.

I’ve always had a vivid imagination.

This is how I imagined I’d feel reading Love Notes from Vinegar House. I mean, have you seen that cover? I love it!

But I can safely say that my search for a fantastically horrifying YA ghost story is still on going.

This book wasn’t bad at all, it was fine, actually. But when you’re reading a story that’s supposed to be chilling and frightening, you don’t want it to be fine, do you?

You want your skin prickling and you want the hair on the back of your neck standing up, as you reluctantly turn the pages for fear what’s going to happen next.

Unfortunately this isn’t what I got with Love Notes.

I think my main problem was that Freya’s voice really didn’t suit the story at all. The writing actually really reminded me of Jaclyn Moriarty’s writing, which is a great thing and I know a lot of you love her stuff (looking at you Nomes, Mandee and Maggie!) and I loved it too, but it’s not right for a scary story. Freya’s narration was very light hearted, slipping into daydreams about the wonky-mouthed Luke, and it was extremely cute but, like I said, cute and creepy don’t really go hand in hand.

It was a bit like someone telling a ghost story after taking a huge breath of helium.

This review is difficult to write because it’s not that I didn’t like it, it was perfectly OK but just not what I wanted it to be. There was no big reveal, there were no real scares and there was no skin-tingling mystery. It was all innocent misunderstandings, based on another misunderstanding that was kind of flimsy to start with.
I couldn’t recommend this book to people looking for a scary story because I think you’ll be disappointed but I can wholeheartedly recommend it to someone who is looking for a story that’s a bit different told by a cute heroine with a fresh and bouncy voice.

So… you know… wimps.*

*Juuuust kidding… ish.

10 thoughts on “Review: Love Notes from Vinegar House – Karen Tayleur

  1. I want this book! I want it! Just cuz it’s called Love Notes from Vinegar House. Lovely review, Jo. I’m a wimp so I don’t mind the not-so-scaryness.

  2. Great review! I remember reading some books a long time ago that pulled off the mixing of lighthearted moments and creepy moments quite well. The lighthearted moments made the creepy moments more horrifying when they happened :) Although it seems that this book didn’t pull that off very well. But I might try this book someday :) Again, fantastic review!

  3. I’ve had this on my shelf for so long… also I’m kind of a wimp, so maybe I’ll fare a little better? ;) It does sound like an odd combo though.. hmmm..

    • It’s a very gentle book (not in a bad way) but it’s not like “POW POW POW I’VE GOT YOU BY THE LAPELS AND YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME” more like… “Oh hey, wanna hear a story? No worries if not… ”


      You get me.

  4. I’m more terrified of flowery culottes! Pics or it didn’t happen. ;) I do luuurve Ms. Jaclyn Moriarty and I’m a big wimp so this might be the book for me! Did I tell you I was walking my dogs and heard a rustle in the bushes so OBVIOUSLY there was a serial killer hiding there. I grabbed my dogs and ran like the dickens.

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