Title: Help for the Haunted
Author: John Searles
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Random HouseEdition: eGalley
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Help for the Haunted begins with nine year-old Sylvie Mason overhearing a phone call that her parents received one snowy, February night. At first she doesn't think too much the phone ringing late into the night, since her parents received lots of phone calls at odd hours ever since they placed an ad claiming an ability to save "haunted souls". Sylvie is whisked off from her bed by her parents on this cold, snowy night, so they can meet with Rose, Sylvie's older, runaway sister. The meeting place is an old church, and Sylvie is told to stay in the car while the parents go inside hoping to talk with Rose.
Something feels creepy and just plain wrong for Sylvie but she stays in the car as she was told. Nodding off in the car she wakes to the sound of gunshots. He parents shot and killed, but by who? From that point on, nothing is ever the same for Sylvie. Teased by classmates, her mess-up sister Rose as her guardian, things go from bad to worst at times. Sylvie, however, is resilient and determined to uncover secrets about her parents that may have lead to their death.
This was such a terrific story from the get-go. I loved the way the story unfolded, the creepiness surrounding the mysteriousness of the basement of the family home, a place the parents warned the girls to stay away from. There are so many layers to uncover, and nothing is as it first appears to be. Sylvie is bright, very sensitive and makes for a sympathetic narrator. She does a fabulous job describing the stranger aspects of her childhood, what her parents did for a living, and rehashing the incident at the church in the middle that changed her life forever. Everything is revealed in very small doses, making the reader want to finish the book without interruption. I had a few small issues with this story, but I was still very happy I got to read this novel. A perfect read for a cool evening by the fire, and don't you just love that title?
Well done -- be sure to read it.