Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Help For the Haunted by John Searles

Morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for John Searles's latest, Help For the Haunted!

Sylvie Mason's parents have a strange job. Some call them demonologists, some call them crazy, and some flat out call them liars. But Sylvie has seen some of what her parents can do. She's seen them help people. One evening, after taking a call in the middle of the night, Sylvie's parents pack her up and drive over to the local church, leaving Sylvie in the car to sleep. Just a little while later, Sylvie is woken up by a strange noise. Nine months later Sylvie is the key witness against Albert Lynch, the man everyone believes killed Rose and Sylvester Mason. But Sylvie isn't all that certain what she saw that night and she's already lied to protect her own sister. 

I get chills even thinking about Help For the Haunted. This is one freaking amazingly creepy book! The narrative skips back and forth between Sylvie's present and what she sees as the beginning of the whole thing, carrying the reader through the Mason's story from just a few years before the murders to the event in question.

Sylvie is not only a character you can sympathize with, but because she's a child there's also an innocence to her narration. She's charming in a way and you feel you can trust her but as the story plays out it's clear that she's hiding something from the reader, something that she's not going to reveal until close to the very end. It could be a secret, it could be something she's not yet recognized as being relevant to the mystery she's trying to unravel, or it could just be something she doesn't yet want to face (I won't tell!). I mean, you're halfway through the book before the story about Penny, the doll, becomes clear even though mention of the dolls left in their driveway happens almost at the very beginning of the book. (Oh, that doll!)

In terms of tension and pacing, this is the kind of book you want to gobble up in one sitting but the atmosphere and build are the kind I actually prefer to savor. There's a quiet sort of dreadful eeriness and atmosphere to the story. Searles sort of lulls you into an uncomfortable state of ease even though you know something is coming soon. Readers, Help For the Haunted is truly a book to lose yourself in.

I don't want to give too much away, after all there is a mystery at the heart of the story and the true pleasure comes in watching it unfold. Help For the Haunted is definitely going down on my favorites list this year. It's one that I highly recommend if you're looking for something incredibly creepy this fall!

Rating: 5/5

To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on John Searles you can like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I'm so glad that I read your review--otherwise I might have picked up this book in my store and been dismayed by how fascinatingly creepy it is. I mean, it sounds good, but it's so far from my comfort zone in reading that I probably never will. Still, I appreciate your review!

Shannon @ River City Reading said...

I can't resist all the great reviews of this book! It's nothing I would ever usually pick up, but I'm totally being won over.

Becky LeJeune said...

Haha! It is definitely sort of deceptively creepy. The premise sounded like it was a possibility but I don't think I expected it to deliver quite that much in the scare department!

It's so well written, too. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely considering it. An all around fabulous book!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being on the tour.