Written By: John Searles
Published By: William Morrow September 2013
Length: 368 pages
Source: E galley via Edelweiss from publisher, and print galley from Book-alicious Mama
It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation: helping “haunted souls” find peace. And yet something in Sylvie senses that this call is different from the others, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church’s red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunfire.
Capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works and the quirky tenderness of John Irving’s novels, Help for the Haunted is told in the captivating voice of a young heroine who is determined to discover the truth about what happened on that winter night.
This book is as much a creepy tale of family secrets and demons as it is a coming of age tale. Sylvie Mason is a young girl, looking for answers, dealing with a sister who seems to create more questions than answers. What feels most sad is that Sylvie seems to have no one to be her savior, to look after her, be strong and grow up. The reader knows early on that her sister Rose will not be that person.
The eerie images of the work her parents did, the questions of just what is in the basement and the over sized doll kept me up nights, wanting to read more, a bit afraid to keep reading. Just the kind of feeling we all need from time to time. Sylvie’s search does lead her to answers and secrets…perhaps ones she didn’t want.
I enjoyed this book, it had been a while since I’d read a tale of this type of demon hunting and saving people. Some have likened it to the movie The Conjuring, and I can see the similarities, and enjoyed both. I’d rate this book between a 3.5 and 4 stars, I enjoyed it and would recommend Help for the Haunted to those who enjoy a chilling tale of family secrets and dark senses. This was the first book I’ve read from John Searles but I’ve admired his work with Cosmopolitan Magazine and the Today Show for years.