Fiction - Supernatural
330 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Joy Ross Davis is a student of the lore and magic of the back hills of Tennessee. She writes imaginative fiction featuring unusual angels as main characters. She has lived and worked in Alabama for most of her life. She has a Ph.D in Creative Writing, and for many years, taught English at a local community college. She retired to become a caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. She wrote her first novel, Countenance, shortly after her mother’s death. For several months in 2007, she lived in Ireland and worked as a travel writer and photographer. She will return to Ireland for an Author Extravaganza in Dublin in 2016. She lives in Alabama with her son and three rescue dogs.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

In Countenance by Joy Ross Davis, 38-year-old Nealey Monaghan's life is turned upside-down when her husband Hank, their two children Nicholas and Lauren, and her sister Naomi are killed by Naomi’s estranged ex-husband. A year later, her charmingly eccentric and cookbook author Aunt Sylvie Wolcott made her co-owner of the Playhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast in the hills of Tennessee, hoping it would help Nealey start living her life again. However, Nealey is about to find out that it isn’t easy to run the business, especially with the inn’s ghostly tenants.

There is history as well as secrets to be discovered and the arrival of a guest named Max Leighton makes everything more complicated. I love a good mystery, and Davis did well to entice readers with the secrets that Sylvie is about to share with her niece. Before her death, Nealey’s mother made her daughter swear not to go back to Playhouse Inn. Intriguingly, something happened to her mother when she and Nealey spent the night at the inn.

The characterization is good; Sylvie, Benton, brothers Worthy and Noble, the ghosts, as well as Lulu the Irish wolfhound (my favorite member of the group) make an odd but intriguing ensemble. The prose is evocative; the description of the inn is wonderful and it makes me want to go there myself. Some parts of the story progress at an unhurried pace, but the twists and turns of the central characters will keep readers engrossed. It’s a great mix of good versus evil and a ghost story. On the whole, Countenance is a solid novel from Davis.

Kathleen Rodgers

For two days I've been living with the charming cast of characters in Joy Ross Davis' debut novel, "Countenance."

Although the Playhouse Inn only exist in the pages of this well-written novel, the author's lyrical writing style and storytelling ability had me roaming through the rooms (like an invisible guest) in this beautiful old bed and breakfast located in the hills of Tennessee.

From the beginning, I fell in love with Aunt Sylvie, an adored cookbook author and the proprietor of this one hundred year old home. We all need an "Aunt Sylvie" doting over us and whipping up her magic in the kitchen of this ancient inn where angels and ghosts live in harmony with the human inhabitants and guests.

That is until a troublemaker named Max shows up, but I'll say no more about this rascal as you will want to read this novel for yourself.

You will step into Nealey's shoes as she returns to the Playhouse Inn, hoping to recover - in both body and spirit - from a horrific event that claimed the lives of her husband, two young children, and her sister. You will be charmed and delighted by brothers, Worthy and Noble, as they go about doing what they do best. Who can forget the lovely Anna..and her two beautiful girls, Mae and Maggie, and the protective and constant companion, Lulu.

And then there's Benton, the ruggedly handsome and muscular custodian of the place. Aw, you do restore my faith.

From the opening lines until the last page, you will be swept away with the strength of this story. Your spine will tingle.. you'll laugh, you'll cry. Then you'll want to get on the phone and book a stay at the Playhouse Inn. And if no one picks up the phone, then you must simply order this book and start reading now. You will not be disappointed.