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The Haunter (Sam the Spectator Book 1)

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  21 reviews
2018 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

2019 IAN Book of the Year Finalist

A teen goth attempts to use her secret ghost-seeing powers to save her town from a restless spirit in the first book of the Sam the Spectator series--a spooky and humorous supernatural mystery set in 1990s West Texas.

Samantha Winters is not like the other girls in Bluebonnet, Texas. There's the combat boots
Kindle Edition, 286 pages
Published October 2nd 2018
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Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Haunter is an immensely fun read! The book made me feel like I was right there in the '90s as I read what Sam and her friends got up to in small town Texas. Sam is a cool, smart protagonist and I loved being in her head for the 276 pages. It's a novel that packs so much heart and empathy into it that I wasn't expecting in a book about ghosts and while I don't normally read a lot of spooky fiction this one had me turning the pages because I needed to know how it was all going to work out. Com ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-2019
ummm there's a part where two teens make out to "here is the house" by depeche mode, so obviously this book was made for me. really though this book was just FUN. I like paranormal stories but I don't like tooooo much action, and this was seriously the perfect blend of small town details, teen goth angst & ghosts. Not to mention I think it finally got me out of a long reading slump. I will definitely be reading the next book! ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It’s so very unlike any I’ve read - it’s fresh, laugh out loud funny, and just well written. The characters are well developed and relatable - we all had the freaks, geeks, bullies, popular kids, and theatre kids in our formative years. Kendra brings those familiar characters together in a way that left me wanting more. To be honest, when I die I now want to come back as a ghost that resembles Uncle John...but maybe just not in West Texas.
Brandon Gutermuth
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Sharp witted, quirky, joyful, funny, and spooky all in one novel. Kendra Alvey has pulled off quite a feat with this beautifully written and engaging novel. Sam the Spectator is a wonderful protagonist and I can’t wait to see where her next adventure takes her!
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lemme tell ya that while the synopsis had me intrigued (I mean, who can say no to 90s nostalgia and a goth teen from a small town who can see ghosts?) I was in no way prepared for how much I was going to love this book.

I’ve been known to devour a book with gusto when it was Harry Potter or something else as universally acclaimed. The Haunter is 100% on that level. I could not put it down. I was waking up early, staying up late, and even taking extra time on my lunch breaks at work because I. Cou
Christie Insley
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Haunter is a thoroughly riveting, entertaining read from start to finish! I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep, so I started reading The Haunter and next thing I knew I was 120 pages in and it was time to get ready for work. Sam is such an engaging, unique, yet totally relatable character, and Alvey has somehow managed to provide a fresh take on an otherwise admittedly over-mined genre. The world she creates is so thoroughly fleshed out and fun, once I started ...more
Elizabeth Green
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE HAUNTER introduces us to Sam, an original -- and reluctantly ass-kicking -- female protagonist from a long-ago era: the 1990s. Sam is smart, sardonic, and sarcastic. Oh, and she can see ghosts. (Like, all the time.) With Alvey's sharp wit and gift for capturing the natural quirks of dusty, small town dialogue, we get a perfect portrait of a seriously unusual West Texas town. If you love '90s pop culture nostalgia, music, mix tapes, and theater dorks -- coupled with serious scares you weren't ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kendra Alvey’s debut novel is a gem. If you’re a fan of YA lit, loved the 90s, appreciate colorful characters, or enjoy anything remotely supernatural, this is your book. I became totally immersed in this world and didn’t want to leave it. It’s rare to read a book that is dripping with wit AND heart. I especially enjoyed Sam, the strong female lead. Sam is relatable in a way that’s refreshing — she’s a bad ass while also being a vulnerable and innocent teen. Oh, and don’t get me started on how a ...more
Monte Means
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kendra Alvey's debut novel, "The Haunter," had me hooked from the get-go, and now that I'm finished I am eagerly awaiting book two! Alvey does an excellent job of creating a vivid, fleshed-out world that I can't wait to visit again. Think small town West Texas, blistering summer heat, copious consumption of Dr. Pepper, pickup trucks & gun racks, boy crushes, an evil preacher, a favorite uncle who is dead but far from gone, and mix tapes to die for. The book is a fun ride of humor, teen angst, 90 ...more
Shira Selkovits
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Extremely fun and nostalgic YA fiction that truly anyone will enjoy. I love the world that Kendra created, the rules about that world, and the characters within it. This truly captures what it feels like to be 16 in the 90s - the music, straddling différent friend groups, the young love, it’s all perfect. There were several times I LOLd!

My favorite passage:

“Hey,” I said
“Hey,” he said
Why was everything he said so perfect?

Can’t wait for book 2.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Adorable. I discovered this author and her books by accident, when one of her Tweets (probably shared by someone else and showing up in my feed) was so brilliant I had to look up who she was and follow her. Which I did. And that very day there was a sale on 2 of her e-books, so I bought them because .99 each really? I didn't even own a Kindle (just my stupid phone). Well, here comes the pandemic so I get a Kindle because I can't get actual books from the library. Magic: I've got Kendra Alvey all ...more
Amy K.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining YA so-not-urban supernatural fantasy delightfully set in a fully realized 1993. Though that's just a little past my prime teen years, I can definitely relate to the fish-out-of-water experiences of the main character, Sam, and enjoyed the many pop culture touchstones. The story itself is a little unevenly paced, but Sam is such a quirky, engaging, down-to-earth character and the cast of supporting characters is likewise so engaging that I didn't mind that I could occasion ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I will admit, I don't normally read YA novels but I'm trying to expand my reading repertoire in 2019, and I know Kendra to be a great writer, so I was eager to try this. I'm so glad I did. It's one of the most inventive stories I've ever read and such a fun, easy read. I also loved all of the 90s music references, many of which took me back to my own high school & college mixtape making days. If you like ghost stories with heart and humor, give this a try. And I promise you don't need to be a "y ...more
Ms. Kay renee
This book was fine.

I grew up in the 90s, but nostalgia isn't strong enough to make me love a book. I do think the author relied on that a bit too much.

I did like the main protagonist and her sordid lot of close friends, but the rest of the characters were not well-developed. I could have overlooked that, had the plot been more compelling. But I found myself wanting more from action and a stronger story line.

Though the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, I have no interest in reading the next on
Picked this up on Amazon because I saw people I liked retweeting the author's announcement that the sequel was coming out this month. I decided, since people I liked were boosting it, that I would give the first in the series a shot and see whether to continue from there. This was fun, moved fairly quickly, and I am compelled to pick up the sequel soon. I really liked Sam as a narrator. The voice felt very true to my experience being a disaffected young woman with no girlfriends and an affection ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a fun read! Alvey has created a vivid ghost story, set against the 90’s west Texas landscape. The characters are rich, relatable and the story is compelling. Once I read it, I shared it with my 12 year old nephew who thought it was awesome. I greatly enjoyed this story, and am eager to read more from Alvey!
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing debut novel! I can't wait to see what happens next in the series (and am slightly regretting reading this book while there is only one out so far).
I couldn't put this book down, I loved the music references and the characters made me want to know more about them as soon as they were introduced.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book that brought me back to the 90’s only with ghosts which is honestly better than my own teen years! Fun characters, great writing. Can’t wait to dive into book 2!
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great little book that takes place in West Texas! If you haven’t listened to the Haunter mixtape on Spotify, you’re totally missing out.
gj indieBRAG
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We are proud to announce that THE HAUNTER by Kendra Alvey is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, ecb
THE HAUNTER is a quirky, voicey, and super fun read—perfect for Halloween month and beyond! I recommend this to everyone who loves YA, ghosts, the 90s, and strong female characters (and who doesn't?)!!
Leslie Vaughan
rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2018
rated it it was ok
Mar 11, 2019
Stephanie Brown
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Jan 19, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Oct 15, 2018
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Nov 10, 2020
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Nov 09, 2018
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Nov 11, 2018
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Nov 15, 2018
Martha Teller
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May 19, 2020
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Kendra Alvey is an author, a yogi, and a mutt mom. She's part goth on her mother's side.

Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, xoJane, Marie Claire, Hello Giggles, Thought Catalog, BeatCrave, Life With Dogs, ScreenCrave, The Impersonals, and several anthologies.

Kendra is from Midland, Texas originally but now resides in Los Angeles with her husband, artist/director Tim Parson

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