Penny For Our Thoughts

Traveling Sisters Book Reviews. Join us on our adventures through the books we read

The Unquiet GraveThe Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Norma’s Review

Traveling Sisters Group Review with Brenda, Lindsay, Susanne, and Diane!

THE UNQUIET GRAVE by SHARYN MCCRUMB was an interesting, very informative, and a well-researched tale that was based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history, of an 1897 folklore legend of the Greenbrier Ghost.  I absolutely love these types of stories especially if there is a ghost involved but somewhere in the middle this book lost my attention and I had a hard time finishing it. This book definitely wasn’t as exciting as I thought it was going to be but that ending was pretty exciting though and I am so glad that I persevered and finished it.

SHARYN MCCRUMB delivers a well-written, detailed, and atmospheric tale here with well-developed characters that was told in two different timelines from the 1897 murder case of Zona Heaster and memories and recollections by James Gardner from 1930.  I was really drawn into the 1897’s storyline and enjoyed what I was learning about this case and loved Mary Jane’s character who was the the mother to Zona and the main character from this time period.  The 1930’s timeline is what I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought there was just way too much detail with the memories and recollections that was shared to us by James Gardner and this is where my attention started to wane.

I do think though since THE UNQUIET GRAVE was based on a true story and the amount of research that was done by SHARYN MCCRUMB to bring this story to life deserves to be noted here and after finishing this novel and reading the Author’s Note just makes me appreciate this novel so much more.

Would recommend to anyone that likes a historical fiction story with folklore, a murder trial, and a good ghost story within the storyline that is based on truth.

Date of Publication:   September 12, 2017

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books and Sharyn McCrumb for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review!!


Brenda’s Combined Thoughts Sisters Review

Traveling Sisters Group Review with Norma, Lindsay, Susanne, and Diane

I read The Unquiet Grave with three of my Traveling Sisters and this one had us situated in different coulees in the end with our enjoyment and rating for this book.

We all did have similar thoughts on The Unquiet Grave however it did affect our overall enjoyment for the story a little differently.  We all really enjoyed the Appalachian ghost story with the turn of the century real murder case and appreciated all the research put into this story explained by Sharyn McCrumb in the Author’s Note.

The story starts off slow as Sharyn McCrumb develops the characters and the setting and we really got to know the characters and their surroundings, catching some of us right from the start but not grabbing us all.  We all enjoyed Mary Jane’s story as we learn of Zona’s death and her suspicions as to the circumstances of her death.  We could really feel Mary Jane’s grief and anger. We all found her to be a strong character and liked her resilience, persistence and her determination for justice.  Her confidence really shined through in this story.

Where in the story we differ for our enjoyment was with the storyline involving lawyer, James Gardner as he recalls his backstory to Dr Boozer.  We all found the story to be dull and very slow and for some of us it was really hard to get through it as it really dragged down the story for them. For me I just wanted to get to Mary Jane’s story and the trial and James’ backstories distracted me from the suspense of the trial.

The Unquiet Grave made for a very good discussion and it was interesting to see how parts of the story affected our level of enjoyment and ratings for this one. We varied from 2.5 to 4 stars with everyone having a different rating.  For me I recommend.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books and Sharyn McCrumb for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this book.


Lindsay’s Review

2.5 stars
This book started off strong, slowly dragged in the middle and then finished with a bang.  Unfortunately, the dragging middle part was from about the 40% mark to the 97% mark.  I really started to lose interest around the halfway mark and had to force myself to keep reading.   Had this not been a Traveling Sister Read, I probably would not have finished it.

What I enjoyed about the novel was finding out that this was based on “the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history – the case of the Greenbrier Ghost”.   I always enjoy reading historical fiction where I learn about a piece of history I knew little or nothing about.  While I liked the educational piece of this book, I just couldn’t connect with the 1930 storyline. It seemed to have a surplus of unnecessary details that were boring, distracting and repetitive. I completely lost interest during these chapters to the point that I was skimming paragraphs.

I loved Mary Jane who was the main character in the 1897 storyline.   She was a loveable, hard-working and dedicated mother who I deeply sympathized with.  However, as much as I loved her character, it didn’t make up for the rest of the redundant story.

There were varying opinions throughout our group which lead to some interesting discussion.

It was a wonderful experience to read this along with my Traveling Sisters Brenda, Norma, Susanne and Diane!

Date of Publication:   September 12, 2017
A big thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Sharyn McCrumb for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!


4 thoughts on “Traveling Sisters NetGalley Group Review: The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

  1. Susanne says:

    Great reviews ladies! Loved reading this with all of you and especially loved seeing your thoughts

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Susanne! I loved reading this with you too! 😊


  2. Lindsay says:

    Loved reading this with you Norma and Brenda!!! Though I didn’t love the book, I loved the reading experience! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We loved reading this one with you too! 🌺


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