Book Review: The Sun Down Motel

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL | Simone St. James
02.18.2020 | Berkley
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Fell, New York is the home to the Sun Down Motel, a rundown roadside motel frequented by a seedy group of clientele. Over the years a series of young women have been murdered. One of those women was Viv Delaney, former night front desk clerk for the Sun Down. Thirty-five years ago in 1982, she vanished, leaving behind her purse and car without a clue to what may have happened to her.

Carly has spent the last year watching her mother slowly succumb to cancer. One of her biggest regrets was never asking her mother more about what happened to her sister, Viv and her disappearance. Carly now finds herself in Fell searching for answers and working the same job her aunt held. As Carly starts to settle into her search, strange things start to happen at the Sun Down. Could the motel be linked to why her aunt disappeared? Is the Sun Down haunted?


I absolutely loved Simone St. James’ THE BROKEN GIRLS and was thrilled to see that she had a new book coming out this year! When I heard the story line, which feels ripped from a true crime documentary combined with a ghost story, I immediately couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Simone St. James is back in THE SUN DOWN MOTEL with a story that alternates between two timelines and two narrators. The section from 1982 gives the reader a firsthand experience with Viv and the events that led to her disappearance. Mixed in is a present day narrative set thirty-five years in the future following Carly and her journey to Fell, New York to track down the truth about what happened to Viv. One of my absolute favorite features in books are alternating timelines and narratives. I love when they’re done individually and combined. 


The main characters of Viv and Carly were both extremely relatable and easy to bond with. They’re both young women who are feeling lost and searching for a sense of purpose and connection in their lives. I think that feeling is something that everyone struggles with at some point, which made it easy to bond with both of these characters. The secondary characters who interact with Viv and Carly are heavily featured and fully-developed, which is one of the features that helps to round out the story completely. 

I did end up docking off a half a star on this one because I felt the pacing was a bit off for me. I was in the mindset that this book would be intensely fast-paced, but there were some parts that lulled for me. Overall, the pacing was very consistent and kept my attention throughout. 

I really enjoyed the entire concept of THE SUN DOWN MOTEL and can’t wait to see what Simone St. James comes up with next!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

A huge thank you to Berkley for sending me my free copy!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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