Help For The Haunted: A Novel

Paperback | July 15, 2014

byJohn Searles

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John Searles’s Help for the Haunted is an unforgettable story of a most unusual family, their deep secrets, their harrowing tragedy, and ultimately, a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery.

Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence.

A year later, Sylvie is living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened to their parents. Now, the inquisitive teenager pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night—and to the truth about her family’s past and the secrets that have haunted them for years.

Capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works with the compelling quirkiness of John Irving’s beloved novels, Help for the Haunted is that rare story that brings to life a richly imagined and wholly original world.

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From the Publisher

John Searles’s Help for the Haunted is an unforgettable story of a most unusual family, their deep secrets, their harrowing tragedy, and ultimately, a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery.Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winte...

From the Jacket

A Boston Globe Best Crime Novel of the YearAn Entertainment Weekly Top Ten "Must List"Winner of the American Library Association's Alex AwardPublishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist starred reviewsSylvie Mason's parents have an unusual occupation: helping "haunted souls" find peace. After receiving a phone call late one snowy n...

John Searles is the author of the bestsellersBoy Still MissingandStrange but True. He appears as a book critic on NBC'sToday Show, and his essays have been published in theNew York TimesandWashington Post. He has a master's degree in creative writing from New York University and lives in New York City.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.9 inPublished:July 15, 2014Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060779640

ISBN - 13:9780060779641

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Customer Reviews of Help For The Haunted: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Help for the haunted This book is exceptional, very well written, I had a hard time putting it down . I highly recommend it!
Date published: 2015-03-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I liked this book a lot! Interesting topic and just creepy enough to keep you invested in the storyline. If you enjoy the paranormal, you will find this entertaining.The ending is also quite good.
Date published: 2014-10-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hard to put down Interesting read! Really liked the book :)
Date published: 2014-10-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable An interesting story; well written, it moved along at a steady pace which held my interest. It provided a good mystery as well as a solid character study. I would recommend this book.
Date published: 2014-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thriller Keeps You Guessing Til the End Oh my!  This book had me spellbound.  I was glued to my seat reading late into the night with this one!  Just because of the title I thought at first it was going to be a ghost story but no, no, no this is an intense psychological suspense which held me in its grip right until the very end.  I just couldn't believe who the killer ended up being, I was so shocked but then part of me was like, "Oh, wow!  That makes so much sense."  There had been clues and when I had finished I immediately had an impulse to start all over again to see if I could find them.  Now that I knew what to look for, LOL.  I don't often feel like re-reading a mystery.  I just loved everything about it: the setting, the characters, the doll, the paranormal topic.  I have read sooo many books this year but this is one of my favourites of the year, especially, for a mystery; it deals with so many unique topics and it stays creepy from beginning to end.  Loved it!  Wonder if Searles' other books are anywhere near this good?
Date published: 2013-12-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read Sylvie and Rose Mason live in a suburban neighbourhood where theirs is the only occupied house.  They are outcasts at school because of the strange occupation of their parents and their basement is filled with trophies of successful ghost hunts.  Not quite the normal family life.  Sylvie seems to coping but Rose is more rebellious and runs away.  On a stormy winter’s night Sylvester and Rosie Mason receive a phone call from their daughter asking them to meet her in an old abandoned church in town.  Despite the weather they make the drive and while Sylvie waits in the car her parents enter the church.  When they do not emerge Sylvie goes in to investigate to find her parents murdered and she gets only a glimpse of the murderer.  Sylvie thinks she recognizes the culprit as a man her parents had at one time tried to “help” but as the investigation goes forth family secrets start to come out and more than she ever suspected, Sylvie realizes her family is definitely not what she always believed. I read this book at the end of October when I wanted a good spooky Halloween read and I picked up this book thinking it was a ghost story.  Nope!  Then I thought is might be a scary story about a possessed doll.  Wrong again!  Hmm – the teasers and promos I had read about the book seem to have been slightly misleading as the book is about neither of those things, but this book is a good thriller with just a hint of the paranormal tossed in.  So, it wasn’t what I was expecting but it sure wasn’t disappointing.  
Date published: 2013-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Creepy, ominous page-turner ...will keep you guessing until the end.
Date published: 2013-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Help for the Haunted Great book with surprising ending.
Date published: 2013-10-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very different read for me John Searles is an author I hadn't read before. Help for the Haunted is his third novel. The back cover blurb was more than enough to have me interested in the book. "... a most unusual family their deep secrets, their harrowing tragedy, and, ultimately, a daughter's discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery." Searles has achieved something that is getting harder and harder to do with this reader - he surprised me, he kept me on my toes and kept me guessing. His premise is unusual and his delivery of his tale kept me riveted. Rose and Sylvester Mason have an unusual profession - they help those who need help ridding themselves, their family or their dwellings of haunted, possessed or dispossessed souls. Their children Sylvie and her older sister, also named Rose, are aware of but not really part of the work. Until the night Rose and Sylvester are killed - by someone their parents had tried to help. A year later, Sylvie lives with her sister Rose as her guardian in the family home. Sylvie begins to question the case against her parents. Did she really see the killer? Searles moves the story from past to present, letting us be a silent witness to Sylvie's attempt to make sense of her life - and find the truth. Sylvie is such an engaging narrator. The reader just wants to protect her, to warn her, to shield her from the inevitable results her searching will bring. The other characters made me wary - everyone else seemed to have their own agendas and secrets - from sister Rose, to the neighbour, the local priest, the reporter and more.... The search kept me off kilter. I suspected everyone - and everything. For Searles spins his story so that we are never quite sure of what is real and what is otherworldly. What is in the basement? "I saw it: the yellowy glow from the basement window. After all those months of darkness, whatever it was down there had turned on the light once more." Who is the strange girl who lived with them for a summer? What is Rose trying to hide from Sylvie? Who keeps dropping off food on their front stoop? Searles slowly but surely drops hints and unexplained clues, ensuring I read 'just one more chapter' until far too late one night. The reader has to notice those bread crumbs and follow them through to the unexpected and original finale. Help for the Haunted was a completely different read for me - one I really enjoyed.
Date published: 2013-10-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Eerie... Story Description: HarperCollins|September 9, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-06-077963-4 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. My Review: I found Help for the Haunted a bit too drawn out and long. I kept thinking the author just kept adding information just to make the book long enough to call it a novel. The story was eerie enough and sort of had you looking around the room and a times I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down into our basement alone again. Although the storyline was good, this just wasn’t my cup of tea. One thing the book did for me was to ensure I never have “dolls” in my house. Can’t tell you why but you’ll understand once you read the story.
Date published: 2013-09-24

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Editorial Reviews

“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.”