Help for The Haunted has been on my kindle for over a year. I think I found it on BookBub for $1.99. I’d been meaning to read it for some time, and I decided to finally start because I’m interested in writing a ghost story, and I thought might benefit from reading what looked to be a promising novel.
I wasn’t disappointed. It takes place in 1980s New England, where Sylvie is trying to come to terms with her parent’s murder. Sylvie’s mother was “gifted” – she could pray for haunted souls and somehow bring them peace. Sylvie’s father also worked in the paranormal, and together they provided “help for the haunted.” But shortly before they’re murdered, a book is released about them that calls their integrity into question. Plus, they’re having HUGE trouble with their older daughter, Rose, and the dad of one of the girls they supposedly helped is very bitter towards them.
So Sylvie thinks she knows what happened. Then, she realizes how little she knows, but she also gets that she is the only one who can find out. Sylvie narrates this story, and her character is merely middle-school age. Yet Sylvie is very wise – “special” – like her mother was, and she comes to question not just her upbringing, but everything she once believed to be true. This is a ghost story for sure, but it’s one that questions whether or not ghosts exist.
I liked this story, and I thought the twist at the end was well done. I did think the pacing was pretty slow; the chapters were very long and it took a while to get to the exciting part. The build-up was drawn out, so it’s a good thing that there was payoff at the end.
Sylvie was a great character, and John Searle’s writing is quite skilled. If you’re looking for a creepy, sometimes disturbing, sometimes uplifting story, try Help for The Haunted.