Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

 Published September 17, 2013
from William Morrow
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 enjoyed this a lot, but I couldn't help but consider some of the messages in the book. I can't mention most of them because I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll try to stick to general ideas.

I felt that a lot of mistakes were made by the parents that you see through Sylvie's flashbacks. Sylvie's sister Rose is supposed to be taking care of her but is doing a terrible job; She's too selfish to care for anyone but herself (though she doesn't exactly do a great job of that either). But most of Rose's issues go back to how she is raised and the choices her parents (mostly her father) made.

Sylvie goes looking for answers about her parents because it is her testimony that will play a big part in the conviction of who the police think killed her parents. What she finds out will forever change what she thought she knew about them, but she also finds out a lot about herself along the way.

Help for the Haunted is a great story and I didn't want to put the book down- full of mystery and wonderfully written.

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