About Help for the Haunted
• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (September 17, 2013)
It begins with a call one snowy February night. 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 from the others, 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.
As the story weaves back and forth through the years leading up to that night and the months following, the ever-inquisitive Sylvie searches for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years.
Capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works and the quirky tenderness of John Irving’s novels, Help for the Haunted is told in the captivating voice of a young heroine who is determined to discover the truth about what happened on that winter night.
Praise for Help for the Haunted
“A truly creepy, smart psychological thriller that will keep readers turning pages until the very end. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)
“Part ghost story, part coming-of-age story, John Searles’ Help for the Haunted is 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.” — Gillian Flynn
“Searles expertly manages his cleverly conceived plotline as he alternately withholds and doles out key information in tantalizing fashion. Amid the fascinating cast of characters, including her ne’er-do-well uncle, a kindhearted school counselor, and the specter of her supportive mother, is the unforgettable Sylvie. Somewhat geeky and blind to her own family’s dynamics, Sylvie manages to figure out the hows and whys behind the catastrophic event that changed her life forever. Superlative storytelling.” — Booklist (starred review)
“A bold, suspenseful, all-consuming ghost story.” — Publishers Weekly
“John Searles has given us something wonderful with Help for the Haunted: 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.” — Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of Midwives and The Light in the Ruins
“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. John Searles has drawn a delicate portrait of the gap between what we know to be true, and what we desperately want to believe. In fact the only flaw I can find is that I’ve finished the novel — and that it’s going to be awfully hard for my next reading choice to measure up.” — Jodi Picoult, New York Times-bestselling author of Lone Wolf and The Storyteller
“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.” — Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
“Help for the Haunted grabs you by the throat in the opening chapter, and shakes you to the core, just as it sweeps up Sylvie, its young heroine who has to sift madly though a thousand twists and turns to try to tell the paranormal from the mundane in order to solve the unusual circumstances of her parents’ murder and her own part in it. This is edge-of-your-seat reading of a very high quality, and, be warned, it is seriously spine-tingling.” — Robert Goolrick, bestselling author of A Reliable Wife
About John Searles
John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He frequently appears as a book critic on NBC’s Today show and CBS’s The Early Show. He is the Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City and can be found on Facebook and also on Twitter: @searlesbooks.
John’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, September 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, September 18th: Girls Just Reading
Friday, September 20th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, September 23rd: Book-alicious Mama
Tuesday, September 24th: Alison’s Book Marks
Wednesday, September 25th: The Well-Read Redhead
Thursday, September 26th: BoundbyWords
Friday, September 27th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, September 30th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, October 1st: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, October 2nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Wednesday, October 2nd: Book Snob
Thursday, October 3rd: Lectus
Monday, October 7th: From the TBR Pile
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