Ammie, Come Home
Author: Barbara Michaels
Publish Date: 1968
Genre: Gothic Mystery
Series: Georgetown #1
Ruth Bennett’s old house has always had some strange activity. A constant cold spot near the living room window and a soft voice that pleads for something during the night. Phenomenons that could always be rationally explained away… until now. In an effort to entertain her niece, Ruth invited over a medium to give a seance. Ever since then, her niece has been acting strange and the things happening in the house can no longer be explained as tricks of the mind.
Originally written in 1968, Ammie, Come Home is the first book by Barbara Michaels that I felt hadn’t aged well. This is largely due to the characters’ thoughts around domestic violence and sexual assault. However, there’s also a lot of very stereotypical gender roles playing out. The men, who haven’t known the female characters all that long, immediately swoop in and start making heavy handed decisions about how Ruth is going to handle her niece and the haunting. They were the main decision makers about everything and I hated that Ruth tended to just raise her hands in a “you know best” sort of way.
As for the male characters, Pat has all the typical trademarks of a Michaels’ leading man. He’s large with strong ideals and often sticks his foot in his mouth. He has the vibe of being a well-meaning bull who accidentally stumbled into a China shop. As much as I hated Pat’s heavy-handedness with Ruth and her niece, I couldn’t help but like him.
As a ghost story, Ammie, Come Home lacks in creepy. This is mostly because the characters aren’t forced to stay in the house. Once they all confirm that something paranormal is occurring, they only return to the house when they expect nothing to happen. So, the story has the characters sitting around and discussing what is going on, rather than letting things play out. This eliminated any sense of urgency or creeping terror because we constantly saw how easily escapable it all was.
Despite this, I still enjoyed the book. Michaels is one of my favorite authors, so picking up her books (even if it’s not a great one) is always comfortable for me. If you’re looking to give Michaels a shot, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. Try House of Many Shadows instead.