The Sundial Inn by Stephen John Ross
The Sundial Inn (FriesenPress) by Stephen John Ross is haunting in the best sense of the word. From the protagonist to the eponymous inn, this novel begins in eerie fashion from the very first sentence, which only continues in this paranormal thriller.
We’re welcomed to a world that is extremely familiar, one where our protagonist, Tim, labors through the rigors of an unfulfilling job while he and his wife struggle through financial burdens. When Tim and Sara are offered an all-expense paid trip to New Orleans, they simply cannot turn it down.
It’s a chance to breathe and put the reality of their lives on hold for a bit. A weekend without work or worrying over finances, a few days where they don’t think of their child that was not to be. It’s almost too good to be true, a chance to recover. At least, that’s what it was supposed to be.
The Mystery of Three Missing Days
The tension starts immediately as Sara and Tim awaken on an airplane heading back to San Francisco beaten, battered, and bruised with no recollection of their stay at the Sundial Inn. From there, a thrilling unraveling occurs as husband and wife try to piece together what happened during their trip with each discovery and passing minute driving them closer to insanity.
Early on, we’re introduced to the novel’s perceived antagonist, one Atticus Busby — founder of the Sundial Inn. Though, his presence only introduces more questions for we first meet Busby in 1948 New Orleans while Tim and Sara’s trip takes place in the present day. What follows is a decade-spanning generational tale of supernatural revenge.
Through this journey, Ross ponders if individuals should be held accountable for the sins and atrocities of their ancestors while delivering a sympathetic, if morally dubious, antagonist. This novel is not only that of Tim and Sara’s mystery, but it equally belongs to Busby, his past, and his inn.
Hair-Raising, Dark and Gripping Narrative
Ross does fantastic work at setting the mood while keeping the pacing at a steady hum. There is an uncanny resonance that reverberates throughout the narrative that makes small, otherwise mundane moments hair-raising.
You find yourself empathizing with Tim as his wife descends into madness with him seeming only moments behind. Ultimately, Ross holds the reader in his grip as we frantically seek the answer to the mystery: what happened at the Sundial Inn?
Oftentimes in a story such as this, that answer is lacking, yet in The Sundial Inn, the resolution is expansive and entirely satisfying. At each reveal we piece together another seemingly disparate narrative thread until a cohesive vision forms that shows just how deep and far generational pain can spread.
If you’re someone that enjoys an edge-of-your-seat paranormal thriller, then The Sundial Inn is for you. It’s complete with gore, voodoo, and sacrifice while keeping you guessing the entire way. A fair warning, there are instances of sexual violence and self-harm in this novel to go along with the ghosts, occult and reincarnation. In the end, Stephen John Ross doesn’t hold back in this multifaceted descent into the supernatural.
About Stephen John Ross:
Stephen John Ross is a business professional, songwriter and musician. Married with three children and four grandchildren, Stephen enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Debbie and chihuahua CeCe. The Sundial Inn is his first novel, with plans for a sequel.
Publish Date: 8/30/2022
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal
Author: Stephen John Ross
Page Count: 306 pages