Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

darkest hour

The basics

Title: Darkest Hour

Author:

Series: The Mediator #4

- Shadowland (2000)
- Ninth Key (2001)
- Reunion (2001)
- Darkest Hour (2001)
- Haunted (2003)
- Twilight (2004)
- Remembrance (2016)

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Goodreads Summary:

What - or who - is buried in Susannah's backyard?

When the nineteenth-century ghost of Maria de Silva wakes her up in the middle of the night, Suze knows this is no ordinary visitation - and not just from the knife at her throat, either. In life, Maria was the fiancée of Jesse - the same Jesse who was murdered a hundred and fifty years before. The same Jesse Suze is in love with.

Maria threatens Suze: The backyard construction must cease. Suze has a pretty good idea what - or rather, who - Maria doesn't want found. But in solving Jesse's murder, will Suze end up losing him forever?

A huge thanks once again to Rachel @ Istyria Book Blog for writing this recap!

in short

Susannah meets a new mediator when working at a resort for the summer holidays, an eight year old named Jack. She is haunted by Maria de Silva (Jesse’s ex-fiance) and her husband, Frank Diego after Sleepy accidentally digs up Jesse’s corpse in their backyard. Maria kills a local historian that was an expert on her and Jesse’s family, and tricks Jack into exorcising Jesse. Suze has to get Father Dom to exorcise herself (even though they don’t know if it is possible to do that to a live human) to go to purgatory and get Jesse back. They end up saving Jesse, but while in purgatory they see Paul (Jack’s older brother). He hints at the fact that he has some sort of ability to travel between the two planes and that Suze can too. She doesn’t know what that means so they kind of ignore him. The book ends with Jesse kissing Suze – finally!

what went down

  • Suze’s stepfather makes her get a job over the summer. She and Sleepy work at a local ‘rich people’s’ resort. Her job largely entails baby-sitting.
  • Dopey is helping his father rebuild a part of their house (and add a fence or something) and digs up an old box in the backyard.
  • Suze is asked babysit a regular client named Jack on his 8th birthday. She isn’t a big fan of him because well, his older brother is super-hot and kind of has a thing for Suze but because of Jesse she’s in two minds about it all.
  • Jack is the antisocial type and Suze tries to get him to go swimming so he can make some friends with the other vacationer’s children. She sees a dead janitor on the way to the pool, and is shocked when Jack reveals that the reason he hates going outside is because he sees ghosts too! He also saw the janitor. Suze has to tell him what a mediator is and let him know that the ghosts aren’t going to kill him, they just need his help.
  • Suze turns Paul (Jack’s older brother) down for a date because she’s in love with Jesse… but obviously, she hasn’t been able to tell anyone she likes him because she’s the only one that can actually see him.
  • The box turns out to have letters from the 1850s that were written by Maria de Silva to Hector… she doesn’t tell Jesse about finding them.
  • Some backstory (in case you’ve forgotten): Jesse’s real name is Hector. 150 years ago his father set up an arranged marriage to his cousin, Maria de Silva, who was in loved with another man (a slave–runner… a real charmer, he was *cough, cough*) named Frank Diego. On the way the wedding, Jesse was murdered. Jesse doesn’t talk about this part of his life, and Suze found out without telling him. Suze thinks that Maria ordered ‘the hit’ and that Diego most likely took it out.
  • The next morning, Suze wakes to a knife being held at her throat. It’s Maria’s ghost and she tries to forces Suze to stop her family digging that new fence. She threatens her family and tells she also has to destroy the letters… or else!
  • Suze goes to work and finds out that Jack’s parents have requested her as Jack’s babysitter throughout their entire holiday. She takes Jack with her into town to see Dr Clive Clemmings at the Carmel-by-the-Sea Historical Society about the letters. Turns out Clive is an expert in that area of history and has a tonne of historical items about Jesse and Maria. She ends up bawling in front of the historian when he accuses Jesse of getting ‘cold feet’ and running to San Francisco (rather than getting murdered). Suze returns Jack home to the resort.
  • Paul tries to ask Suze out again but she turns him down, and he gets angry, saying he’ll report her to the hotel for taking Jack off hotel property and yells at her for ‘enabling Jack’s mental disorder’) by telling him that he could really could see dead people and he wasn’t crazy.
  • She catches up with CeeCee (whose been interning at the local newspaper) and Adam (whose been holidaying at his aunt’s vineyard).
  • Suze has a heart-to-heart with Jesse about what’s been happening and why she lied to him. She even tells him that she researched him and knows about his death. He promises her that he isn’t only staying around because the mystery of his death hasn’t been completely solved, and he won’t leave when they find his body like a lot of ghosts do. He guards her against Maria the whole night. Aww!
  • The next morning, Suze goes to pour herself a glass or orange juice but Dopey steals it from her and goes to drink it straight from the bottle… but instead of juice thousands of black bugs come out of the container. *gags* Maria is haunting her whole family now, it seems.
  • At work that day, while she is babysitting Jack (Paul tagged along to be with Suze), two police officers show up to ask Suze a few questions… Dr Clemming was found dead at his desk that morning of an apparent heart attack and Suze was one of the last people to see him alive. A small painting of Jesse was missing. Paul saves her from all their questions, and Suze goes out to dinner with him as thanks.
  • When she gets home, there are police at her house and all that crime scene tape stuff. Turns out that her stepbrother had dug up a skeleton in their backyard (like Suze knew they would) and the cops were treating it like a homicide until they knew how old the skeleton was. Suze gets super upset (suspecting it is Jesse’s body) and vomits all over the side of the house. Gross! She gets puts to bed by her mum and Doc calls from summer camp to see how she is (he knows her secret and also knows about Jesse, so makes the same jump as Suze about the skeleton’s identity).
  • Jesse doesn’t turn up that night and Suze is distraught, thinking Jesse has ‘moved on’ or whatever it is ghosts do. She calls Father Dom (he’s at some retreat/meeting thing) and he tells her she must get her family out of the house (he also wants her to tell them about her abilities, but Suze refuses). He thinks that Maria is going to possess the house, and with one guy dead, he thinks that someone in her family will be next. Suze pretends to agree but doesn’t plan on telling her family anything, and thinks she might visit the Diego crypt at the local cemetery instead so she can confront Maria. (Ghosts tend to hang out by their graves).
  • Suze sneaks out in the middle night to confront Maria, but Maria appears on the porch roof as Suze is sneaking across it. She confesses to murdering Dr Clemming because he had a painting of her hanging up in his office and she thought that was disgraceful. She also reveals that Jesse rejected her hand in marriage when he heard about her and Diego, and said that he deserved his untimely death because of that. Up herself much? Suze starts bashing Mariah up, but Diego turns up as a ghost and throws her off the roof into the hole that they found the skeleton.
  • The next morning, Suze wakes up in the hole and it is too late to go to work. Father Dom calls her and tries to convince her to tell her family again. Jack calls her but she doesn’t go into work. Dr Clemmings turns up (as a ghost) in her bedroom. Turns out he doesn’t realise he’s dead and Suze has to tell him. He says that Maria killed him because once Suze left the Historical Society he started researching her and Jesse more and came to the same conclusion as Suze: there was something more to Jesse’s disappearance than recorded.
  • Father Dom returns home and visits Suze.
  • Suze gets a call from Jack. He tells her that that “nice old lady ghost” (Maria) has been visiting him, and told him that a ghost named Hector (Jesse) was bugging Suze… so he exorcized him for her.
  • Suze tells Father Dom about Jack, and she has a full on melt down once she realises Jesse didn’t leave her. Now she wants to get him back, and she asks Father Dom to exorcize her.
  • Suze goes to her friend CeeCee at her reporting job, and tells her Clemming’s story and about the de Silvas so that she will print in the paper the next day (and avenge Jesse and Clemming’s deaths).
  • Suze goes to see Jack who Christine (her supervisor – who is also dating Sleepy) is babysitting and swaps shifts. She yells at Jack for a bit (trying to explain that not all ghosts are good and that they lie sometimes and stuff) and then her and Jack start prepping to perform an exorcism on Suze in the hotel room bathroom.
  • Father Dom catches them before they can start though and lectures them for hours until Jack’s parents return about how irresponsible they were, and tries telling Jack about the proper way of mediating ghosts. Before they leave, Paul tries to get Suze to go out with him… again!
  • CeeCee calls Suze during dinner. The coroner contacted her newspaper and said that the skeleton was from 150 years ago, male and 20-25 years of age. The cause of death was asphyxiation.
  • Father Dom decides that there is no way Suze is giving up on the exorcism thing, so if she is going to do it, it may as well be on his terms. He gets Suze to meet him at the school’s chapel and he performs a Catholic exorcism on her. Her soul gets separated from her body and she starts to go in search of Jesse. She has only half an hour before she’ll become permanently detached from her body though. Before she leaves Jack runs into the church. He snuck in the middle of the night to join them.
  • Suze head up to purgatory and the gatekeeper there (a gladiator guy) tells her she can go in, but not to open any doors or go into the light. Jesse sees her and is kind of angry that she died for him. He seems to think that she exorcised him. What? They head back to the church by following a rope attached to Suze’s body that Suze’s soul was carrying, but they were fighting along the way and they realise that the rope has been cut.
  • Jesse starts freaking out. They cannot find the way out now, and Suze has eight minutes left… and then Paul turns up and starts spouting all this stuff about how if Suze had paid attention to him he could have showed her that she was destined for most than this ‘saving lost souls’ stuff and that she had the power to travel back and forth (from where?) and all this mumbo jumbo. Jesse gets enraged and punches him, breaking his nose. Paul vows he’ll get revenge on him.
  • Jack turns up to save them and shows them how to get out of purgatory. Suze falls straight back into her body. She wakes up and a massive statue in the church falls onto her as Maria and Diego fight Father Dom around her. Suze flings off the statue and starts attacking Maria. She breaks her neck and then she and Jack run over to Father Dom who is seriously injured. Jesse comes out of purgatory and attacks Diego. Jack runs over and grabs Father Dom’s diary and give sit to Suze. She exorcises Maria and then Jesse pushes Diego into the candle ring so Suze can exorcise him too.

how did it end?

Once Maria and Diego are gone and Jesse is safely returned to the physical plane, they call the cops and tell them that Father Dom was hurt when he ran in on a robbery at the church. Jack refuses to tell Suze what’s up with Paul and how he can freely move between the realms of the living and the dead. Suze goes home and sleeps for two days straight. Jack’s family left for their home during that time but Jack wrote her a letter saying to write to him whenever she could and returned the painting of Jesse that was stolen from Clemming’s office. She goes to her and room where Jesse is sitting waiting for her. He says they need to talk, but Suze says she is too tired to talk. He’s like okay then, we don’t have to talk, and KISSES HER. Finally!

anything else

Carmel-at-the-Sea = the Californian town where Suze and her family live.

Ghost = the soul of someone that has died and has unfinished business so remains on the physical plane until that business is finished or a mediator exorcises them.

Mediator = someone that sees dead people, like Father Dom, Suze and Jack.

Purgatory = the in-between place for ghosts once they’ve left the physical world but are not yet in heaven/starting a new life or whatever is next after death.

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