Saturday, August 31, 2013

ARC Review: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

368 pages
Expected publication: September 17, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow

Help for the Haunted takes us on a psychological and emotional journey into the bizarre family lifestyle of fourteen year old Sylvie Mason. After losing her parents in a horrific way, Sylvie must come to terms with what she witnessed that tragic night while also looking for clues in her parents' past. Between her parents and their strange career as helpers of haunted souls, the aftermath of their murders, and Sylvie's unpredictable and rebellious sister Rose, Help for the Haunted is a thrilling new novel that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

This novel is not only beautifully written but it is also fast paced, interesting, and slightly terrifying. Searles used a nonlinear way of storytelling, which kept me at the edge of my seat. Her sister Rose is insufferable but her demons slowly come to the surface leaving us with a clear picture as to why she was always the odd one out. While the characters are complex, the short span of time presented in this novel is surprisingly enough for some character development. The dynamic between the sister adds a twisted--at times rather chilling--element to the story. My only negative note is that the end didn't feel like a good fit as far as the tone of the rest of the book. The way the story played out in the last fifty pages left me a little dissatisfied. However, it did not by any means ruin the novel for me.

The frightening aspects of Help for the Haunted are sometimes so subtle that you won't know you're terrified until after you turn off the light.  Even though the novel's theme is at its core pretty dark, at the end of the day this is the coming of age story of a young girl trying to make sense of her life after it has been turned upside down.

Note: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
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