Book 330: THE BARTER Review

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock
ISBN: 9780525954224 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698161375 (ebook)
ASIN: B00INIXNPA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 4, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult

A heart-stopping tale as provocative as is suspenseful, about two conflicted women, separated by one hundred years, and bound by an unthinkable sacrifice. 

The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.

Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it.

On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.

As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences.

Bridget is a stay-at-home mom. She worked for years as an attorney but now spends her time devoted to her daughter Julia. Bridget loves being at home with her daughter but her thoughts have recently turned to the macabre and she thinks about the unimaginable, death. Is it possible that her thoughts have manifested a ghost in their home? What makes the situation even more bizarre is that her husband, Mark, doesn’t seem able to see the ghost. Their home is newly constructed, so how is it possible a ghost could appear in their home? What does this ghost want and even more importantly, can Bridget give this ghost what it wants?

When we are introduced to Bridget, she comes across as a tired, yet loving mother. She is rocking her daughter to sleep and thinking about death when she first notices a strange smell. She then hears several thumps before finally seeing what appears to be a ghost. At first she is sure that she has imaged this vision until the ghost begins to move further into the room. As the days and nights go by, only Bridget and her infant daughter Julia are able to see the ghost. What scares Bridget the most is that the ghost always seems to appear around the baby. Just as the anxiety begins to build with Bridget and the presence in her home, the author switches perspective and voice by introducing the reader to Rebecca. Rebecca is a young woman, being raised in the city around the turn of the century. She is newly engaged to a young farmer and is thinking about becoming a new bride and life on the farm. Unfortunately Rebecca isn’t quite sure she’s cut out to be a farmer’s wife and she winds up breaking her newly wedded husband’s heart on their wedding night. After she gives birth to her son, Rebecca’s perspective on life, family, and home seem to change but it seems to be too little too late to save her marriage.

The Barter is an interesting blend of contemporary and historical fiction with a paranormal theme. It is told in alternating voices of Bridget and Rebecca. We’re never quite sure if there is a connection between these two ladies other than the fact they are both young first-time mothers without a clue. Who is the ghost and what exactly does it want? What happened to Rebecca and her family in the past? What will happen to Bridget and her family in the present? All of these are questions that arose in my mind as I was reading this story. I’d love to say that I enjoyed reading The Barter, but there was just something about it that didn’t quite do it for me. I was often frustrated with Rebecca’s naïveté, as well as Bridget’s “woe is me” mentality. Are the characters well developed? Yes. Is the story well crafted? Yes. I don’t know if it was the paranormal aspect of the story or not, but I simply found it hard to connect. It is quite possible that since I don’t read a lot of paranormal-horror I was just unable to appreciate the finer points of this genre. Now having said all of that the question that remains is can I recommend The Barter? My answer is yes. If you enjoy paranormal or ghost stories with a slight horror twist or if you’re looking for something a little outside of your comfort zone, then I urge you to add The Barter to your reading list. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via BookSparksPR. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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