Book Review: Help for the Haunted – John Searles

Help for the Haunted coverTitle: Help for the Haunted
Author: John Searles
ISBN: 9780060779634
Pages: 368
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

One year ago, Sylvie Mason’s parents were murdered in a late-night meeting, and Sylvie was the only witness. But Sylvie isn’t entire sure that the man the police arrested is who she saw; that night is a blank to her. Now Sylvie is living with her older sister in their parents’ house, a place that Sylvie think is haunted. For Sylvie’s parents didn’t have the most ordinary of jobs—helping haunted souls and exorcising ghosts and demons—and they might have left something behind in the basement that wishes Sylvie harm.

Snapshot Review:

A creepy thriller that combines a murder mystery and ghost story, Help for the Haunted is a perfect read for Halloween, with a great main character and a wonderful, chilling atmosphere.

Review:

If you’re in the mood for creepy and spooky, then Help for the Haunted is absolutely the novel for you. It’s part murder mystery—what really happened to Sylvie’s parents? Who killed them? Sylvie named a man, the man she suspected of their deaths in her statements to the police, but now that the trial is approaching and she’s their star witness, she’s more unsure of what she remembers. Sylvie is an excellently written main character. Readers will absolutely sympathize with her, especially as her experiences are revealed through flashbacks that flesh out the past and help the reader understand what she’s been through.

The other side of Help for the Haunted is the ghost story aspect. Sylvie’s parents had a strange occupation, and though they tried to keep their children separate from it, ghosts are intertwined in Sylvie’s life. What’s more, there’s a book that’s been in her thoughts—a tell-all by a reporter about her parents—that has been haunting Sylvie just as much as the ghosts she’s convinced are in the basement. She was forbidden from reading it when her parents were alive, but now that they’re dead? Sylvie is afraid the book will shatter her memories of a happier time while her parents were alive.

What sets Help for the Haunted apart from other ghost stories is the depth present in the story. Sylvie is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths and the fact that her sister acts like she doesn’t care about her. She’s very much alone, but she’s also haunted by the past. It’s so interesting to see Sylvie evaluate the relationships in her life, past and present, and what they mean to her.

Searles writes a great atmosphere in Help for the Haunted. From the beginning, readers will feel chills running down their spines, even when the most ordinary things are happening. The book is also crafted very well. Searles keeps the suspense up, revealing plot twists and answers in good time, so that the story never drags. It’s expertly paced and plotted, and while the ending is satisfying, it will leave the reader wanting more from this talented author.

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