While I'm gone on my trip, I've got a few book reviews lined up for you so you won't totally be without your Sara fix. It's OK, I'll be back. AND, Matt assures me we can bring my laptop because it has the camera card reader thingie so if the hotel in Mitchell isn't a total piece of shit, I'll be able to give you some kind of an update.
I know, you're just as excited as I am!
But to kick it off, let's start with a review.
Help for the Haunted - John Searles
It 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.
I'll be straight up- this would be kind of a fascinating book for book clubs. This wasn't a book I rushed through, it wasn't one that I could not put down. In fact, it took me well over a week to read it because it didn't pull me in enough to pull an all-nighter. The only thing that really kept me going was every time I thought ugh, I've had it, the author would drop another clue. Something really weird that made you think that maybe it's not at all what it seems.
I feel terrible for Sylvie. It's clear her sister has some serious angst issues. Her sister is the classic rebellious teenager who has issues with what her parents due for a living. That happens to be helping people rid themselves of ghosts, demons, haunted things that linger in this realm that really need to go wherever dead things go. They do conferences and drag their girls around. Sylvie wants to believe that her parents are just really devout Christian's doing the Lord's work. Until Sylvie is with her parents when they are killed in the middle of the night and she sees their bodies. She's hounded by detectives to provide information and though she's named someone, she isn't actually sure. She also doesn't believe her sister and with good reason.
Overall? Decent book. It isn't gripping. I don't know if I'd even call it a thriller because I didn't feel that, "I can't wait to find out who did it" feeling you get with a good thriller. It was a mystery and when we find out what transpired in the church in the middle of the night, I wasn't really shocked? No, I shouldn't say that. I was a little shocked because it came out of the blue. So much so that honestly, it felt like a zinger thrown in for the sake of having this momentous ending but it doesn't work because you never saw it coming because it's a character introduced at the end. Which, I don't know. It just felt like the author wasn't totally sure where he was going to go, but he had to go somewhere and let's give them a jolt at the end for added measure.
I will say this would make an interesting book club read because there can be a lot of discussion on not just the parent's profession, but how they parented their children. The really cool thing is that the author, John Searles, has a goal to chat with a book club in EVERY state about Help for the Haunted. If your book club signs up to do this, could win a tote bag of books for every member in the group. If you are interested in that, sign your book club up HERE.