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Help for the Haunted

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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  12,939 ratings  ·  1,802 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 362 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by William Morrow
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,939 ratings  ·  1,802 reviews


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Delee
Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.
Ed Warren

I didn't know a lot about HELP FOR THE HAUNTED going in-except that it had very high ratings on Goodreads...but I somehow had the feeling- after reading the description, that the parents of the main character were based on The Warrens- involved in such cases as "The Lutz's
...more
Clarice
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Biblioblond
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was extremely intrigued by the premise of this novel; I thought it would make for a perfect spooky book to read around Halloween. In the end, I struggled through it only to be bitterly disappointed by an implausible conclusion. The beginning was spooky and well written enough to hook me but then after that the moments of interest were few and far between (the doll moving around, the wooden horses being broken as well as the descriptions of Abigail). Although I liked the main character of Sylvi ...more
Mandy
Apr 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really expected more from this story.. it left me with more questions than answers. Halfway through I realized that I wasn't going to enjoy it and that I felt like it was going nowhere. The ending for me started to get better and I wish the author had elaborated more on Rose and her distorted life. I wouldn't recommend this one and I am sorry I wasted my time on it.
Robin
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Creepy, disturbing, and compelling, with gothic overtones and well-drawn characters. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to older teens. Definitely one of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It would also make a terrific movie.
Ruth Turner
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was just an okay read for me.

My interest was caught at the beginning, but the more I read the less it intrigued me.

It's well written and the characters are interesting, but I found the story dragged at times.

The ending was disappointing and seemed contrived, almost as though the author didn't quite know how to end it.

I finished the last page and it was kind of...Huh?...So that's it? Disappointing.
Wanda
I read this book to fill the “Haunted Houses” square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo card.

As in any good ghost story, there is a lot of ambiguity in this tale of family strife and striving. Can Sylvie’s father see ghosts or not? What are her mother’s capabilities? Are they helping people or just fooling their clients and themselves?

Sylvie is a typical “good kid.” She is co-operative, obedient, studious—even when she doesn’t want to be any of those things. And her sister Rose is the typical “bad kid.”
...more
Allie
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding, suspenseful, unique. One of the best books I've read this year.

Full review:

I loved this book so much. I had a hard time tearing myself away and wish I had had the sense to start this on a weekend so I didn't have to! Searles has created a thoroughly sympathetic heroine in Sylvie. Her (his) voice is authentic and believable as a teenager in a very unusual home situation. Every element of the plot is revealed in exactly the right place. The characters are all complex and how I felt ab
...more
Brittany Mclain
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I love a good suspense story. But I don't know if I am just desensitized or this book was just that boring because I trudged through the whole thing waiting for it to get good and when I flipped the last page I wish I had spent my previous two evenings doing something else. Well written, good character development but I definitely never felt the need to double check the door locks or felt nervous venturing into the basement later that night as the author blurbs all suggested. Very meh.
Neil
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Help for the Haunted is an extraordinary book that defies categorization. It revolves around the murder of Sylvie Mason's parents and with an elegant construction takes place both in the present and through a series of flashbacks that bit by bit reveal all the mysteries surrounding the Masons and their lives.

The first person narrative voice of Sylvie is marvellously realized as an intelligent, sensitive and deeply troubled teenage girl, not surprising considering her upbringing and the fact tha
...more
Ami
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the story and the main character. The narrative--a teenage girl struggling to deal with the death of her parents, who were sort of ghost hunters/conductors of exorcisms/spirit guides. The book actually isn't very clear what the parents do, which is my biggest complaint. Sometimes the parents are just praying over people who have demons inside. Sometimes they are retrieving haunted items? There are definitely some encounters with angry ghosts? I wanted more descriptions of what the pare ...more
Karin Slaughter
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In addition to being adorable, John is a really engaging and skillful writer. I have always been a fan but this latest one was a real treasure to read. The quality of the writing is just amazing. Some of the phrases still stick with me, which is always what you want with a good book.

Also, of note, I recently found out that John's dad was a long-haul truck driver, and John used to ride along with him and read books, which makes me respect John even more because I get really car sick and would've
...more
Donnelle
Oct 14, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is pretty much impossible to fit under the umbrella of just one genre, as it is alternately a paranormal quasi-thriller (that both debunks and lightly supports some aspects of the goings-on in the mystical realm); a murder mystery; a character study of a young girl finding answers and her way in the world; a cautionary tale of what can happen when one has too much or too little faith; a story where one person's short-sighted, selfish vision for the future has disastrous consequences; a ...more
Yodamom
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio, did-not-finish
I got to 40 % and just couldn't go on. It is not a bad story I just did not connect to the characters in anyway. I also did not care for the back and forth in timelines. I found my mind drifting while listening to it.
Rebecca McNutt
Eerie and terrifying, Help for the Haunted is a compelling mystery that proves sometimes monsters are the people you least suspect.
Carol
Jul 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Do you believe in haunted souls? No? You might just change your mind after reading this eerie, tension filled account of the Masons. Somewhat evangelistic, The Masons are out to save tortured beings much to the perplexity of one daughter and the questioning of the other. Sylvie, the daughter who wants to believe and hope, life is shattered one icy evening when she is dragged along with her parents to church where a reconciliation is to take place between her parents and her sister Rose. A gunsho ...more
Mauoijenn
Interesting story plot but I couldn't help shake loose the feeling of The Ghost Whisperer while reading it. Of course its different in a couple of ways and the characters are very well developed. I felt it got a little muddled in the last fourth of the book but it ended quite like I thought it would.
Diane
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The genius of Help For The Haunted is that Searles successfully combines so many genres. He gives you a heroine to care about and empathize with, some scares and chills along the way, a dysfunctional family with a secret, all the while trying to solve a murder mystery. The solution to the mystery is surprising, and I doubt that many people will have figured it out before the big reveal.

Sylvie is an intriguing young heroine; she belongs up there with Stephen King’s Carrie, Roald Dahl’s Matilda an
...more
Cynthia
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Best supernatural thriller I’ve read in 2013

I loved this book! I’m intrigued with the supernatural yet so often it can come across as just plain silly. Not so in “Help for the Haunted” and not only is this a fascinating tale well told but the ending is amazing. Searles kept me guessing throughout most of the book yet he still gave ample hints about the resolution to chew on along the way. Sylvie Mason is born into a supernatural family in that both her parents earn their living by helping people
...more
Lisa
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
...even though three stars seems a wee bit generous.

Just the facts, man: John Searles writes prose well. But he tends to rehash the same ideas and events, and drags out the story too much. He also needlessly bounces around in time, and that just doesn't make for a very cohesive read. And here's my biggest beef: plot holes the size of craters. Massive, moon-surface-like plot holes. You can't miss them. They are fantastic in size.

I had the audio, and one of my very favorite narrators, Emma Galvin,
...more
Liz Barnsley
I absolutely adored this beautifully written, haunting and evocative novel about two sisters and their strange childhood and coming of age, growing up in a house with parents who are not by any means normal and whose career lends itself to some strange and sometimes scary goings on…

Exquisitely constructed, the story opens on that fateful night at the old church, then moves backwards and forwards in time telling the tale of Sylvie and Rose as they grow up and slowly but surely revealing the backg
...more
Dan Radovich
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
John Searles has created a masterpiece of contemporary fiction with HELP FOR THE HAUNTED. The hair on the nape of your neck begins to bristle and stand stiff early on in this new work and it does not lay flat and straight once you finish reading. Sylvie is a fantastic narrator, a beautifully written fleshed out young girl. Every character fits perfectly into the story. Every plotline is woven smoothly into the story which is filled with Searles' wit as well as wonderful creepiness. Excellent dem ...more
Crystal Craig
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-print, 2014
I was expecting more and something different from John Searles', Help for the Haunted. With it's interesting title and nice cover art, I was surprised when I finished that the book wasn't more scary. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading about young Sylvie and Rose Mason. Sylvie was a delight and Rose was often quit comical. I am looking forward to reading more by this author.
Annie Danstrom
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This new novel by an already beloved author is wonderful. Creepy, funny with fantastic characters, I love this book!
H. Dair Brown
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
On the back of this book there are blurbs from Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Jodi Picoult (Second Glance), Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), Chris Bohjalian (The Light in the Ruins), and Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife). I've read books by each of these authors and really enjoyed the experience (Goolrick and Gruen, in particular), so I was sold!

Fortunately for me, I didn't read what they actually said about the book.* I recommend you don't either. Some of the reviews there are misleading as to wh
...more
Valentina
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a very entertaining book, a great literary read with a touch of mystery to keep readers turning the pages.
The book’s structure, I think, was cleverly done, with chapters moving backwards and forwards in time. This gives us access to certain events while keeping some other ones hidden, creating in this way even more tension in the narrative. This technique also doesn’t allow us to become too complacent with the storyline, which works very well in a novel like this where suspense is a key
...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
"You know the truth already. What I will say is this: each of us is born into this life with a light inside of us. Some, like yours, burn brighter than others. You don't see that yet, but I do. What's most important is to never let that light go out, because when you do, it means you've lost yourself to the darkness. It means you've lost your hope. And hope is what makes this world a beautiful place."

And that is exactly the advice that Sylvie Mason has to hold onto. When she was nine years old,
...more
Diane
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-favorite-read
Help for the Haunted begins with nine year-old Sylvie Mason overhearing a phone call that her parents received one snowy, February night. At first she doesn't think too much the phone ringing late into the night, since her parents received lots of phone calls at odd hours ever since they placed an ad claiming an ability to save "haunted souls". Sylvie is whisked off from her bed by her parents on this cold, snowy night, so they can meet with Rose, Sylvie's older, runaway sister. The meeting plac ...more
Laura
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I so wanted this to be a four star book (or even a five) but I just couldn't round up.

"Help for the Haunted" is the title of a classified ad that Sylvie's father placed in a newspaper when he decided that he could, in fact, help those haunted by people and items - not necessarily performing exorcisms, but helping remove the haunted thing from the lives of the living. His wife was actually the more sensitive of the two, able to help people meditate to find a sense of peace that overcame their fea
...more
Mary Kubica
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a terrific book. I have never read one quite like this (a ghost story!), and thoroughly enjoyed it. I absolutely loved the character of Sylvie, as well as many of the other truly unique characters in the novel. The telling of the story itself was quite distinct as well, and I couldn't wait to get to the end and discover the truth of what happened that night in the church. I'm looking forward to reading much more by John Searles!
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330 followers
John Searles is the author of the best-selling novels Boy Still Missing and Strange But True. John appears regularly as a book critic on NBC’s Today Show and has also appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, Live! With Regis & Kelly and CNN to discuss his favorite book selections. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast and other national publication ...more
“There are times when it's easier to fool yourself than swallow some jagged piece of reality.” 17 likes
“Most people, they are afraid to believe in ghosts. Me, i'm afraid not to believe. Because, well, what then? If there really is nothing else- nowhere to go after this, no way to linger on this plane to finish unsettled business it we must, then that means each moment, each breath, each passing second, is as ethereal as the wind. It means all we do here on earth- the going and coming, the loving and hating- it is all for naught. So, no. Ghosts don't scare me. But no ghosts- that terrifies me.” 7 likes
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