- 336 pages
- Contemporary Romance
- Mystical Realism
- Recommended by Buzzfeed, Buzzle, and Popsugar
- Small Town
- Fake Dating Trope
Sabrina Monroe prefers her life in the city, far from her family and the family secret. Yet, when she loses her journalism job and has a credit card bill that’s reaching closer and closer to its limit, she has no choice but to return to the Wisconsin Dells. For Sabrina, returning home means more than just her family—it means returning to the place where she was continually bullied throughout her childhood, and the place of her family’s secret: The Monroe family women can see ghosts.
In The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, Sabrina is destined to take over the family career—helping the dead pass through to the afterlife by solving their unfinished business. Except, Sabrina’s always passed the ghosts on to her mom, who is much better suited for the job. The only ghost who has ever been the exception is quirky Molly, a rom-com loving ghost who’s been around as long as Sabrina can remember, and Molly’s obsessed with Sabrina’s personal life, or lack thereof.
When Sabrina has a meet-cute at a local waterpark, she meets Ray, a new local restauranter who’s trying to re-establish a supper club that has been in his family for decades. Ray takes an interest in Sabrina, but Sabrina doesn’t know how she can possibly hide the family secret in a new relationship. When her high school bully comes back into play, she agrees to fake-date Ray in the hopes of getting the woman off her back. Yet, when fake dating turns to something real, Sabrina can’t help but deny her feelings, her true destiny, and how they all connect.
When I saw The Kindred Spirits Supper Club in the bookstore, it looked like the ideal summer read. With its bright blue cover, this book belongs right next to the pool—after all, the meet-cute does happen at a waterpark. I love a good summer romance and I was hoping that this one was going to be it, but it just wasn’t. While the cover is cute, simple, and easy, I didn’t feel that the book matched up.
One thing that really bothered me about The Kindred Spirits Supper Club was that there was SO much going on. First, we have the idea of the Wisconsin Dells—Waterpark Capital of The World, which is important to the meet-cute between Sabrina and Ray, but never really pops up after that. Then, there’s the fact that Sabrina probably wouldn’t have been at a waterpark anyway, given her personality and her fear of running into people she knows. But, I’ll get to that aspect a little later.
Besides the environmental aspect, we have the paranormal thing. I loved the idea here—a family where only the girls can see ghosts. There was SO much potential with this one that I was even more disappointed when it fell flat. While the ghosts do pop up throughout the book, it’s only periodically and they tend to appear more like imaginary friends than real ghosts. The ghosts have an almost comically bad presence and many of them have flat humor that doesn’t translate well on the page.
Then, there’s Ray. Ray has to be the most hero-less hero I’ve ever met in a book. He’s in the Wisconsin Dells for the summer hoping to re-establish a “supper club,” which according to my research is basically a restaurant with an atmosphere between a swanky country club and a night club. Ray has an interest in food, but it’s not clear where the interest comes from, considering that he comes from a rich family and probably never had to cook a day in his life. The thing that probably bothered me the most about Ray was the fact that he immediately falls for Sabrina even though she clearly doesn’t want anything to do with him. While he IS gentlemanly about pursuing her, he continues to pursue her even when she makes it clear that she doesn’t want him by blatantly ignoring her. This made the chemistry between the two so flat and it really felt forced and one-sided.
On top of the environment, the paranormal aspect, and then the flat romance, there’s also Sabrina’s anxiety. Throughout the entirety of this book, Sabrina is battling severe anxiety, which seems to stem from both her childhood bullies and the secret that she is forced to hide. As someone with anxiety, I wanted to empathize with Sabrina, and in some ways I did. I understood the aspects of her summer job working on the duck boats and how she masked through her day with the tourists. As a person with anxiety, this is something I do regularly. I also loved how much she liked lists and organizations, it’s an aspect that helps many people with anxiety feel a sense of control. Yet, Sabrina doesn’t confront her anxiety. She does see a therapist in the city, but waits to see a new therapist once moving home. Instead, she avoids tackling her anxiety, even when she knows that it’s causing her so many problems. This infuriated me—it felt like she didn’t want to try, whether it was her anxiety, her love life, or with her job. It’s not until she’s coerced into something that she actually admits that it’s not that bad.
On top of all of this, there’s also the fact that Ray’s uncle dies and it’s up to Sabrina to solve his mysterious unfinished business. While it takes a very predictable turn at the end, Sabrina is left trying to explain to Ray that she’s seeing his dead uncle. So, with the combination of the many different things happening in this plot, it becomes complicated for the reader to keep track of what’s happening because there’s so much of it. Yet, the actual plot in this book moved so slowly that I was frustrated with the lack of development. All of the concepts seemed underdeveloped, which made the plotline feel empty, overall.
The Kindred Spirits Supper Club had so much potential, that it infuriated me that this book fell so flat. I loved the idea of Sabrina helping ghosts with their unfinished business. I loved the idea of the fake dating to avoid the bullies. I loved Sabrina trying to combat her anxiety. I even loved the idea of the local waterparks and the Wisconsin Dells. Any one of these plotlines would have made a wonderful book. Yet, combined, it was just too much, and yet, not enough because each concept couldn’t be fully explored.
Sabrina is kind and quirky—she is the sweet, sensitive protagonist that readers love. If you’re someone who enjoys easy, feel-good reads with a quiet ending, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is a fun choice. Yet, it missed the mark for me. I think this book should have focused on one or two of the concepts chosen instead of all of them at once. Because of the many different concepts at once, the tone of the plotline felt scattered and surface-level, which wasn’t for me.
If you’ve read The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with my rating? Would you have chosen the same star-rating? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’d like to read The Kindred Spirits Supper Club for yourself, you can order it from Amazon by clicking here.
If you’re not sure what to read next, check out my latest book review, The Lifestyle by Taylor Hahn, by clicking here.