Thursday, September 26, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Title: Help for the Haunted
Author: John Searles
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: Sept. 17/2013
Adquired: Print ARC provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

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.


The fact that the lead character's last name was "Mason," sealed the deal for me way before I even read beyond the synopsis on the back. I guess I started my spooky/Halloween reads a week early, because after reading Help for the Haunted, ALL I want to do now is scare myself to death half an hour before bed. I.COULDN'T.PUT.THIS.BOOK.DOWN. I even brought it to work with me today, even though I already finished it. I just wanted it near that creepy? Probably. I don't care, I don't care about anything else right now but spilling my guts (ugh), about how fantastically disturbing this book was.

I met young Sylvie Mason at the beginning of Help for the Haunted, she's in the car, headed towards an old church, where her parents have apparently been summoned by her older sister, Rosie, who needs a ride home. Rose is the "bad" daughter, Sylvie, the good. On this cold winter night in Dundalk, Maryland, Sylvie could not have guessed that the last she would see her of parents, would be of their backs, walking into that old church, and never coming out.

FAST FORWARD almost a year, chapter 2, entitled "Things in the Basement." Can you handle that? The simplicity. Four words, four little words that preceded a chapter, and what I found within them-what I found within ALL of them-was a subtlety of terrifying proportions. There is always a lack of words when I've enjoyed a book this much, and I wish I could explain to you better just how satisfyingly creeped out I was by the tone John Searles set for this novel, right off the bat. It was like the beginning of the Exorcist, with the walking up to the house, and fog, and such..THAT feeling, of impending creepiness, of horror. Expect John Searles never actually goes ALL out with it, he leaves you there, teetering on the edge, KNOWING that there are things lurking on the edges of the darkness, but never actually shoving them in your face. It was an experience like no other, a true exploration of one's fears, and self-doubts.

Sylvie's character was frustratingly obedient, and at times, I wanted her to be pushed to the edge, just SHOVED. At the same time, I wanted to KILL for her. I wanted to teach her sister, Rose, a lesson in maturity, a swift KICK in the you know what. Rose was one of THE easiest characters to hate, EVERYTHING she did made me grind my teeth, everything she expected Sylvie to do, right along with her.

THE CONCLUSION...Oh...OH I can't even. Is it safe to say that we're all going to go out and buy finished copies of Help for the Haunted now? Because I sure as hell am, and will probably be re-reading it AGAIN closer to Halloween.

Recommended for Fans of: The Exorcist, Horror, Thriller, Mystery



John Searles is the author of the best-selling novels Boy Still Missing and Strange But True. John appears regularly as a book critic on NBC’s Today Show and has also appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, Live! With Regis & Kelly and CNN to discuss his favorite book selections. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast and other national publications. He lives in New York City. His new novel, Help for the Haunted, will be published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in September, 2013.

Contact Links


Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to Harper Collins for sending me a print ARC to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. AHHH!!! I'm creeped out and I haven't even read the book yet. I'm pretty sure that's the sign of a good book. :)

    So glad you loved it! Thanks for being on the tour!


Comment love is always appreciated! =)
I will always try my best to comment back!