Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Help for the HauntedIt begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. 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 than the rest, 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.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.

As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family's past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years.

This was a very entertaining book, a great literary read with a touch of mystery to keep readers turning the pages.

The book’s structure, I think, was cleverly done, with chapters moving backwards and forwards in time. This gives us access to certain events while keeping some other ones hidden, creating in this way even more tension in the narrative. This technique also doesn’t allow us to become too complacent with the storyline, which works very well in a novel like this where suspense is a key element.

The main character, Sylvie, is nicely written, as is her sister Rose. I also enjoyed how their parents were presented. Since they are seen through Sylvie’s eyes, we don’t really know if they are accurately represented. We start getting little clues from other characters, but they don’t really come to life until late in the story, adding to the tension.

The writing itself is clear, with a unique voice that I found refreshing in a suspenseful novel such as this one. The topic is not necessarily the most groundbreaking, but the way it is handled makes all the difference.

I do recommend this one to all lovers of  literary novels that have a touch of psychological mystery.


Anonymous said...

Great review - I'm sold!

Blogger10 said...

Great review! I am reading this for a TLC Book Tour later this month, and your comments make me more excited to get into it. I do love psychological thrillers...