Help for the Haunted

Help for the Haunted by John SearlesTitle: Help for the Haunted

Author: John Searles. He’s the author of two previous suspense novels, including Strange But True.

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Readers: Production coordinator Joanna, event planner Kathy, freelance writer Piper,  small-business owner Samantha and librarian Mary Liz.

Summary: 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.

Our Take: A ghost story light on the ghost and heavy on the character development. A teenage protagonist we loved. A family story about a very strange family that anyone can relate to.

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A Demon Lies Within

Title: A Demon Lies Within

Author: Tony Hubbard. This is his first novel.

Genre: Horror

Readers: Professor Michal, editor Kristina, victim advocate MJ and prosecutor Rochelle.

Summary: Following his murder, Andrew McMurray finds himself transported to the depths of hell. There he is indoctrinated as an apprentice to a demon master, Sonneillon. Exposing Andrew to the dark reaches of his evil powers, Sonneillon demonstrates a demons’ ability to posses, torment and control the thoughts and actions of the living. Andrew’s ultimate goal following his apprenticeship? Revenge on his wife, Katelyn and young son, Joshua, both of whom he holds responsible for his murder.

As Katelyn rebuilds her life, following her husbands’ death, she meets Michael Gordon, a recent escapee from Corporate America, who has his own troubled, tragic past. As their relationship grows, they realize they share something more than their burgeoning love for one another — the powers of hell have deeply impacted their pasts. Evil continues to insinuate itself into the pair’s lives, bringing with it haunting and unspeakable horrors.

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The Burn Palace

Title: The Burn Palace

Author: Stephen Dobyns, author of several previous psychological mysteries, including The Church of Dead Girls.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Literary Fiction

Readers: Retiree Nancy, stay-at-home mom Krysta, and teachers madriscoll and Ninian.

Summary: At two-thirty in the morning at the local hospital in the small town of Brewster, Rhode Island, Alice Alessio — also known as Nurse Spandex — is given the surprise of her life. Coming back from a secret tryst with a doctor, she peeks in to check on the newborn baby she was supposed to be watching, and finds a huge, writhing red-and-yellow snake in the bassinet instead. So begins the series of strange and disturbing events that start to plague this sleepy little community and confound the police. Woody Potter, the detective on the case, simply can’t put it all together — what is the thread that ties a missing baby, a dead insurance investigator, and a local Wiccan sect together? Why do all roads seem to lead to the town yoga center (known to all as the You-You)? And what exactly is going on with Carl Krause, the local man who works at the funeral home, who has taken to growling at his neighbors?

An epic, twisted portrait of small-town America, The Burn Palace captivates with dozens of richly rendered multidimensional characters and a plot that keeps you guessing all the way to the end. It is the literary equivalent of Richard Russo crossed with Stephen King.

Should You Read It?: Our readers all enjoyed this thrill ride filled with eerie atmosphere. But as Krysta notes, this may not be for the faint of heart. A fun read for literature lovers who don’t normally read genre fiction. A strong choice for genre-lovers, too.

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Little Wolves

Title: Little Wolves

Author: Thomas Maltman. He is the author of a previous book, the historical novel The Night Birds.

Genre: Mystery and maybe a little Horror

Readers: Project manager Andrea, administrative coordinator Cyn, retiree Sulyn and dispatcher Melanie.

Summary: Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery; a page-turning literary triumph.

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The Other

BookThe Other  (This is a re-release of the novel, originally written in 1971.)

Author: Thomas Tryon, former actor. Author of other novels including Lady and Night Magic, mostly out-of-print. New Afterword by Dan Chaon.

Genre: Horror, Literary Fiction.

Reviewers: Administrator Cyn, bookseller Pam, writer & editor Kristina, stay-at-home mom Shawna  and prosecutor Rochelle.

Publisher Summary: Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each other’s thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. Holland is bold and mischievous, a bad influence, while Niles is kind and eager to please, the sort of boy who makes parents proud. The Perrys live in the bucolic New England town their family settled centuries ago, and as it happens, the extended clan has gathered at its ancestral farm this summer to mourn the death of the twins’ father in a most unfortunate accident. Mrs. Perry still hasn’t recovered from the shock of her husband’s gruesome end and stays sequestered in her room, leaving her sons to roam free. As the summer goes on, though, and Holland’s pranks become increasingly sinister, Niles finds he can no longer make excuses for his brother’s actions.

Thomas Tryon’s best-selling novel about a homegrown monster is an eerie examination of the darkness that dwells within everyone. It is a landmark of psychological horror that is a worthy descendent of the books of James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith.

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