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Help for the Haunted

( 97 )

Overview

When young Sylvie Mason and her mother and father are lured to an old church on the outskirts of town, she has no idea that the night will end with her parents' murders. As the narrative weaves back and forth through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, Sylvie searches for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years.

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Help for the Haunted

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Overview

When young Sylvie Mason and her mother and father are lured to an old church on the outskirts of town, she has no idea that the night will end with her parents' murders. As the narrative weaves back and forth through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, Sylvie searches for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years.

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Editorial Reviews

Chris Bohjalian
“Wonderful...A coming of age tale that is poignant and touching...and will scare the living hell out of you. I loved every page of this novel: I loved the sisters and the story and the page-turning mystery. I just may never go downstairs into my basement again.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Searles expertly manages his cleverly conceived plotline as he alternately withholds and doles out key information in tantalizing fashion... Superlative storytelling.”
Jodi Picoult
“I was completely consumed by Help for the Haunted; I read it in one sitting. I just can’t decide what I loved the most: its perfectly pitched teenage narrator; the ghost story that kept me riveted; the thriller that made me say, Oh, just one more chapter.”
Gillian Flynn
“A dazzling, dark portrait of a troubled family beset by the supernatural. Searles ratchets up the tension with every passing chapter, and delivers authentic and well-earned scares—all written through the lens of a lonely teenager searching for answers. The result is a novel both frightening and beautiful.”
Sara Gruen
“A quickly paced and boldly rendered ghost story, Searles’s dark novel about a young girl haunted by the murder of her parents had me up reading all night. And checking the doors. I found it impossible to put down.”
Robert Goolrick
“This is edge-of-your-seat reading of a very high quality, and, be warned, it is seriously spine-tingling.”
Khaled Hosseini
“A rich and tense suspense story that serves up plenty of genuine thrills but also moves the reader with elegant insights into the enigma that is Family.”
Miami Herald
“A poignant story of a family, of parents navigating an odd and dangerous career, of daughters shaken by doubt and loss and grief — and the gulf that widens between them all...A compelling mystery.”
New York Newsday
“Involves both classic horror elements (a malevolent rag doll, a stolen diary, a hatchet, a scary basement) and contemporary ones (a prescription for Vicodin). Searles controls the plot with a sure hand and wraps up the situation on Butter Lane in a satisfying and believable way.”
Washington Post
“[Searles] has crafted a strange, spooky world that is absolutely believable. Sweet, precocious, desperate Sylvie is a memorable young striver in the tradition of Scout Finch, and HELP FOR THE HAUNTED is an exceptional piece of storytelling.”
Columbus Dispatch
“Moving and elegantly constructed...both a suspenseful page turner and a provocative look at what it means to be haunted.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“John Searles wrapped a ghost story inside a mystery, and the result is a worthy thriller...HELP FOR THE HAUNTED’s alternating chapters are cleverly split in time to reveal what came before and after a deadly tragedy at the heart of this captivating story.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A masterful genre mash-up that’s part paranormal thriller, part coming-of-age story, part crime fiction, Searles’ eerie novel about a young girl uncovering the mystery of her parents’ murders builds to a stunning and poignant conclusion.”
USA Today
“The family demons are more troubling than the supernatural ones in John Searles’ new novel...Sylvie’s flashbacks and exploration of her mom and dad’s relationship will haunt readers’ hearts after they turn the final page.”
New York Daily News
“[Searles] has a distinct talent for fashioning chilling, thrilling novels.”
Charlotte Observer
“Searles is a top-notch storyteller. He sets a mood of unease that builds up to a sense of dread... It’s hard to stop reading.”
Boston Globe
“The perfect Halloween read for those with a taste for haunted basements, creepy always-smiling dolls, and weirdly dysfunctional families...Searles brings the torture of adolescence, the scourge of notoriety, and the pain of being young and different vividly to the page.”
NPR
“Full of terror, totally compelling, believable, and ghostly chilling...The horror that stocks this page-turner is so adroitly grounded in things ordinary and real that the reader almost suspends disbelief and comes to think that maybe there are malevolent spirits out there.”
Statesman Journal (Oregon)
“Creepy, disturbing and compelling, with well-drawn characters, this is gothic suspense at its finest.”
Chicago Magazine
“[HELP FOR THE HAUNTED] is no simple ghost story...As the story zips back and forth through time, it’s rarely clear what’s real and what’s not, though one thing is for sure: The “literal” bedevilment the Masons cast from other houses is nothing compared to what’s in their own.”
People
“Disturbingly engrossing.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Heart-thumping...nearly impossible to put down.”
Publishers Weekly
Readers of this unsettling coming-of-age story from Searles (Strange but True) may feel the need to whistle past the graveyard by the end. Nothing has been the same for Sylvie Mason since the cold winter’s night when her parents went to a deserted church, not in their self-proclaimed capacity as the saviors of haunted souls, but to meet their runaway older daughter, Rose. Left asleep in the car, Sylvie is awakened by the sound of the gunshots that ended her parents’ lives. Nearly a year later, her grief is still fresh. Schoolmates taunt her, and though Rose has assumed legal responsibility for Sylvie, the older Mason girl fails to properly feed, clothe, or otherwise nurture her younger sister, all the while behaving erratically. Sylvie continues to lie to the police about Rose’s whereabouts that fatal night, even as the trial of a man arrested for the crimes approaches. Her current existence, her parents’ “gifts” and vagabond lifestyle, and strange goings-on in the Masons’ basement unfold in nonlinear fashion, keeping the reader on edge while Sylvie bravely uncovers her family’s many secrets. Agent: Joanna Pulcini, Joanna Pulcini Literary Management. (Sept.)
People
“Disturbingly engrossing.”
Library Journal
"No one makes eye contact or talks to me unless it is to taunt me about my parents and the things that happened to them—the thing that almost happened to me too…." Sylvie Mason and her sister, Rose, are left to fend for themselves after a fateful night that claims their parents' lives. A mysterious phone call is all it took to send her parents out in a blizzard, to a church from which they never returned. All that remains are questions, and Sylvie is determined to find out the truth even if it means going down to the scariest, darkest place in her house: the basement. VERDICT Searles (Boy Still Missing; Strange But True), has written a truly creepy, smart psychological thriller that will keep readers turning pages until the very end. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/13.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Searles (Boy Still Missing, 2001, etc.) turns in another coming-of-age tale, about a young female protaganist and centered around a possibly occult murder mystery. Sylvie Mason's parents are--or were--"demonologists." Devoutly Christian, her dad zealously worked the lecture circuit while her mom had the talent to soothe the haunted humans who came to them for help. When they are both murdered in a church on a snowy night, 14-year-old Sylvie is the sole witness but doesn't fully remember what happened. In the custody of Rose, her spiteful, rebellious older sister, Sylvie struggles to reconcile her bleak new life with her slightly less-bleak former life. Then, she was always the "good daughter" despite being bullied by Rose and kept in the dark about her parents' career. Now, nearly a year later, she is ostracized by her peers, and the fate of the murder suspect rests in her unsure hands. Searles successfully jumps back and forth in time to let these stories unfold, sewing clues and strange details along the way, the creepiest being a doll named Penny that may be possessed. Slowly, Sylvie breaks out of her good-girl mold to uncover greater truths about her sister, herself and what happened the night of the killing. But for all the time spent uncovering their history, her parents remain murky set pieces, their paranormal abilities and activities never wholly understood. Other pieces of the narrative veer toward overexplanation, but some moments are deftly eerie, and Searles has a knack for building tension; the "haunted" of the title refers as much to Sylvie and her circumstances as to things otherworldly. A somber, well-paced journey, wrapped in a mystery, that will keep readers guessing until the revealing conclusion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062253736
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/17/2013
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 1,457,993
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Searles is the author of the bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He appears as a book critic on NBC's Today Show, and his essays have been published in the New York Times and Washington Post. He has a master's degree in creative writing from New York University and lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 97 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(49)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 97 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

    None

    A great psychological thriller. I couldn't put it down. I didn't have it all figured out at the end which was nice. The story was told through the eyes of a teenage girl but this was not a children's story.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    LOVE

    I got an advanced readers copy of this back in July, and I've been waiting since then to write a review! I couldn't put this book down. It had me at the edge of my seat (and bed sometimes) wanting to find out what would happen next.
    Help for the Haunted is one of the best psychological thrillers I've read in a while. I highly reccomend it.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013

    Good read, suspenseful!

    Good read, suspenseful!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    Just the right amount of creepy - a true page-turner!

    A decade ago I read "BOY STILL MISSING", and "STRANGE BUT TRUE", both authored by John Searles. Both were compelling reads because they combined interesting character studies with masterfully presented, suspenseful storylines. The same is true in "HELP FOR THE HAUNTED", but taken to a higher level. I often felt as though I hung suspended between chapters - thinking about something disturbing that I had just read, as I confronted a new disturbing scene in the next chapter - and that made for an exciting, page-turning, stay-up-till-the-middle-of-the-night adventure. You'll never look at a Raggedy Ann doll the same way, ever, and you just might fall in love with Sylvie.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2013

    Not what I was expecting! Better actually. I found if very suspe

    Not what I was expecting! Better actually. I found if very suspenseful. The story is told by a young girl and it is easy to get caught up in her life as she explores the mystery of her parents and their supernatural career. I would recommend it!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2013

    I really liked this book. It is amazing how you wanted the stor

    I really liked this book. It is amazing how you wanted the story to go one way, just for it to go another. Very well written. Can't wait to read more from this author.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Loved it!

    Perfect read for October! Strong characters, original story, great writing....what more can you wish for.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    A hauntingly engaging read

    I read this book in 5 days (with a full time job)! This book grabbed by by the arm, pulled me in, and I could not put it down. The characters are interesting. The plot is suspensful, seems clear and then throws in a loop or two changing your view of the story. John Searles is a master!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2013

    Excellent!

    This is the best book I have read since Gone Girl. I couldn't put it down. I am now going to read Searle's other works. If you like psychological thrillers, this is the perfect read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Great ride

    Lots of energy in this book. The plot twists through several hairpins but never slows down. Highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Sibling rivalry

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    Sibling rivalry, family issues and mystery made for a fantastically creepy book!  Told through the voice of a 14 year old, Sylvie is dealing with the loss of both her parents and she was there when they were killed.  While the present story is being told as they try to bring the killer to justice, a parallel story is being told from Sylvie's childhood up to the killing to provide the reader with all of the insight to this family.  

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    &smile &smile

    *watches*

    2 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2014

    Good book

    The title caught my eye. I'm glad it did. It grabbed my attention from the start. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    Good read!

    Mystery wrapped in the paranormal with childhood questions and the perceptions of the parents expectations of both. I liked this book a lot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2014

    Loved it

    I really loved this book and will definately read more by this author. I had some goose bumps in parts of it and loved the thriller aspects of it also. Read it in a day! Really a great coming of age read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2014

    Loved the sample.

    I wanted to check out the reader reviews before I made the decision to purchase this book. Half the reviews weren't reviews at all but a bunch of ( hopefully) teenage brainless twits using this space for their juvenile dating BS. Grow some brains and actually read some books and stay off review sites while you decide if he likes her or she likes him or if you all want to put your thumbs up your bums. Based on how much I enjoyed the sample, I think I will purchase this book. Spare us from stupid idiots.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2014

    Amazing Read

    You get so wrapped up in these characters....I started it at 3 am and didn't stop until 4 pm.....this is a book that will keep you guessing until the end....please read this book.....you'll be happy you did!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2014

    Unique and interesting

    Not predictable at all with a unique and interesting story line. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2014

    Wonderful book

    This book has a wonderful and compelling storyline. There are a few moments where I feel I was supposed to infer something that I missed. It may just be lack of sleep due to parenting a young teething child, or I wasn't reading close enough. Other than that I found it to be an entertaining and fast paced read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2014

    Interesting Characters........

    It was a fairly good read. The only thing I would say is that Mr. & Mrs. Mason were to coincidently like the real people Ed & Lorraine Warren. The doll Penny is just like the Annabelle doll that the Warren's keep in there basement, as well as all the other relics both the Mason's & the Warren's similarly had. It just felt like the author took real people, and created a ficticious story about them. Granted the story was mainly about the two daughters, but felt that it just followed to closely with the real people and no acknowledgement was made.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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