Epeolatry Book Review: The Midnight Lullaby by Cheryl Low


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Title: The Midnight Lullaby
Author: Cheryl Low
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Grinning Skull Press
Release Date: 10th July, 2020

Synopsis: Everybody has secrets…

For years, Benedict Lyon has been living a lie. Not even his family knows the truth he’s been keeping from the world. Only Emmeline knows his secret—and she’s dead.

…some are darker than others…

When the matriarch of the Lyon family passes away, Benedict is summoned home for the funeral. Emmeline urges Benedict not to go, certain that if he returns to that house, neither one of them will escape.

…but are they worth dying for?

Their presence in the family home causes the spirit of Gloria Lyon to become restless, and as the remaining members of the Lyon family attempt to put their mother to rest, long buried secrets, some deadlier than others, are unearthed. Who will survive…

Sometimes you read the right book at just the right time. The Midnight Lullaby was one of those books.

I don’t feel the description on Amazon fully captures the essence of the story. By essence, I mean the poignant emotional heft of the book, which is just as haunting as the supernatural horror within these pages.

Benedict Lyon is a black-sheep-esque misfit within a “ghost-hunting family” comprised of talented, and influencer-level, psychic mediums-slash-spiritualists. Everyone is successful, except for him, until he befriends a ghost named Emmeline, and he’s able to carve out a niche for himself as a psychic medium. But not everything is as clear as quartz crystal when it comes to the Lyon family, as Benedict makes contact with a darker evil that transcends the spiritual realm he usually visits.

After the first chapter, once I met Benedict as an adult, I fully expected to dislike him, because it felt like I was going to be reading about a poor little rich boy who has everything but it’s not enough. And I predicted a “sour-grapes” attitude sneaking in, despite my best efforts to remain impartial, that I feared might cause me to put down The Midnight Lullaby.

Also, anybody remember that movie Mannequin? (Note: I love that movie—it’s one of my favourites—but it does have some problematic messages.) When the character Emmeline was introduced, I was thinking to myself: “Okay, that’s what this is going to be like between Benedict and Emmeline. Sigh.”

Until Low revealed that it wasn’t, by a series of lovingly, and yet heartbreakingly poignant layers slowly peeled back as the plot circled towards the stunning conclusion.

It also seemed to be that the Lyon clan matriarch (Gloria Lyon) was going to be similarly typecast as uber controlling in the how-dare-a-woman-have-power mindset.

But, as I got wrapped up in the intrigue of the story line, I realize that Low has used that same layering technique to reveal more than what had initially met my assumptive eye.

I predict that, because of this nifty trick, other readers will enjoy the same immersive journey that Low’s deft story-telling creates.

Having said that, towards the end, I think some of the key action scenes felt a little rushed. Yes, the pace should pick up during the suspenseful moments, but the greedy horror-sadist part of my reading mind wanted a few more details, and I especially wanted to linger over one penultimate scene in particular. I was like “No, I don’t want to quickly dash off to somewhere else…go back!”

Overall, though, Low’s reveals carry themselves through the plot, and through the characters as well. Especially Emmeline. I found it exciting to see Emmeline’s intangible presence as a ghost being employed as the main heavy lifter in terms of the plot.

Like with the aforementioned suspenseful scenes, I wanted another layer of escapist illusion into that luxe world before the book took me into the reality that existed beneath that sparkling surface. And I wanted to get to know the other characters, for better or for worse, a little more. Because, you know, how often do us 99-percenters get to hang out with A-listers—and psychic spiritualist A-listers at that?

While I’m waiting for my VIP invite from the Lyons to arrive in the mail, I’ll resign myself to reading The Midnight Lullaby again. Besides, getting caught up in the haunting relationship formed between Emmeline and Benedict is not a bad way to pass the time.

Last Rites: Order yourself a craft cocktail, tuck yourself into a cozy corner of the hotel bar, and let yourself be “influenced” by this beautiful, and yet sinister and twisty tale. It’s short, so you’ll still have time to go out with your own circle of influencers. Unless, of course, the book’s lullaby charms you into imagining an entirely different existence—one very far away from the spotlight.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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