Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 15 July 2014
Format: Paperback, 400 pgs
Help for the Haunted is a story about an unusual family and secrets; as well as a girl's journey to finding the truth surrounding her family.
Sylvie Mason knew her family is unlike the others; after all her parents are known to help "haunted souls" to find peace. As much as the Mason family is unusual in some ways, they tried to lead life as normal as everyone is. Sylvie seems to be the perfect daughter in her parents' eyes, while Rose, the eldest daughter is the opposite. She couldn't be bothered with what their parents do, and she doesn't believe in them anyway.
One snowy night, the Masons received a phone call which altered all their lives. The parents are expecting to meet up with Rose, who ran away from home as an act of rebellion, but instead they ended up being murdered in an old church, the place which Rose had suggested to meet initially.
Sylvie was in their car sleeping then, but the gunshots shattered her dreams and led her to the church, searching for her parents. The murderer was eventually put behind bars, but still Sylvie was left with a dozen of questions not answered.
Rose became her legal guardian, but Sylvie's relationship with her remains cool, after what happened. And Sylvie needed to find Uncle Howie, who was her father's elder brother and she thought he might be able to give her some answers, even though he and her father were estranged.
As Sylvie delved deeper into the mystery of her parents' death, she learnt more about her family's past and that certain things are not what they seemed to be.
When I first started this book, I expected a story about ghosts and spirits, after all the title gave me that idea. However, as I find myself engrossed in Sylvie's lonely world I realised that this is more than a ghost story. This is a coming-of-age story written from Sylvie's perspective as she bravely seeks the truth, paranormal or not.
Author John Searles is a great storyteller as he cleverly crafted the plot line with tension and a tinge of creepiness. The characterisations are equally stunning, as I found myself engrossed in the relationships between Sylvie, Rose and the various characters who revolved around them. I think these relationships are a mystery itself. The conclusion to this book is both beautiful and poignant, which I'm sure will evoke various emotions in a reader. Highly recommended.