Honestly, this book had a lot of potential. It sets up an interesting mystery from the first paragraph. A mysterious and unhappy woman who kills herself somehow in this grand house. A haunted house with a curse that seems to make the people there either go mad or die somehow. Or just drive them out altogether. With a large cast of characters, a potential ghost and haunted home, it seems like this would be a mystery that unravels what happened to Violet and everyone else.
The issue is that the book doesn't do that. At all. I mean, it does tell you but it originally sets it up as the characters in the first timeline (1999) figuring out the mystery.
Instead, we get characters with interesting concepts but end up just falling flat in practice. Zee switches between being this horny, loving wife to someone who will actively sabotage a coworker's career. Miriam seems to be this manic-pixie dream girl but is really just wild, unhinged and clearly just horny for Doug. Doug is a writer who feels trapped and pathetic in his own abilities. Case is an asshole that turns into an injured mess who you end up feeling sorry for. Gracie was confusing; she seemed like she had no thoughts or opinions really (and isn't developed more until her section in the 1950s).
These characters sound like they are interesting and have cool concepts, but unfortunately, they fall and crumble into unlikeable and boring people. I thought I would identify with Doug but he easily allows himself to drift away from Zee and cry "why would she leave?" In reality, he continued to lie to her and push her away. He lets himself fall in love with Miriam because it's "destiny" or something. He wants to write more about Edwin Parfitt and ends up writing a tween installment about a girl in soccer. He sees this as disgrace but he really should be accepting it as a challenge or a break so that he feels refreshed for his real project. Zee flip-flops between emotions and morals. She is ready to destroy Cole's career but then decides to help him save it.
Thing is, I get it. But it got boring. The 1999 section was the most interesting but it also felt like it meant nothing. The 1950's section had an interesting concept as well and seems to flesh out Gracie a bit more, but it still leaves more questions as to what Gracie meant when she told Doug about the accident. The 1920's section is a mess. It was boring and confusing. I found myself skimming through each page. I thought learning about Edwin would be cool, but there are too many characters that have no development and very little personality. I think the only interesting part is the idea that Edwin "died" and was possibly reborn as "Max". That's what I got from it at least. The 1900's section (the prologue) is interesting and short. I don't think it was necessary. It's spoiled earlier in the book that Violet starved herself and then mentioned again a couple more times. I think it would have been fine to just say that. Although, I do like that Violet is clearly very unhappy here and seems to feel as if she were forced in this house.
All and all, there are way too many characters to keep track of and some don't even add anything to the story. The story drags on; attempting to set up an interesting mystery that just falls apart and makes you want to skip pages.