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The Saturday Night Ghost Club

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A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of "Stranger Things" and "Stand by Me" about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls--a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place--Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the "Saturday Night Ghost Club." But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.

211 pages, Paperback

First published August 14, 2018

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About the author

Craig Davidson

29 books775 followers
Craig Davidson is a Canadian author of short stories and novels, who has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter

Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was raised in Calgary and St. Catharines.

His first short story collection, Rust and Bone, was published in September 2005 by Penguin Books Canada, and was a finalist for the 2006 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Stories in Rust and Bone have also been adapted into a play by Australian playwright Caleb Lewis and a film by French director Jacques Audiard.

Davidson also released a novel in 2007 named The Fighter. During the course of his research of the novel, Davidson went on a 16-week steroid cycle. To promote the release of the novel, Davidson participated in a fully sanctioned boxing match against Toronto poet Michael Knox at Florida Jack's Boxing Gym; for the novel's subsequent release in the United States, he organized a similar promotional boxing match against Jonathan Ames. Davidson lost both matches.

His 2013 novel Cataract City was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,023 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
October 2, 2023
Anyone else find it more difficult to review the books you love compared with those you don't?

It can't just be me. I struggle so much to find words to express my feelings, or experience, when I love a book.

There's only so many ways you can say, this book is amazing!

So, yeah, long story short, I'm still not able to actually write a review of The Saturday Night Ghost Club.

It's amazing. Read it.

Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
July 9, 2019

“This town’s full of sorrows, isn’t it?”

it sure is. this return to cataract city is nothing but heartpunches, one after another. it’s only about 250 pages, so it won’t take you long to read, but it will stick to you for longer than many thicker books, if you’ve ever been a human with human-feelings. it is lovely and sad and perfect, full of the growing pains of smalltown coming-of-age, where danger isn’t always easy to identify, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and with the 20/20 hindsight of nostalgic adulthood, the paths to this understanding, the moments of innocence lost, stand out.

As a boy, when I’d looked at the houses down my block, and all over Cataract City, I’d believed that the lives unfurling behind those doors were much the same as my own. Every boy and girl had good parents like my parents. Every child went to bed with a full belly, in a warm bed, knowing they were loved. That was the life every child was supposed to have, wasn’t it?

the city itself is my favorite kind of tumbledown neglect, which davidson describes so beautifully:

Nothing ever gets torn down in Cataract City. Buildings collapse like woolly mammoths sucked lamenting into a tar pit, and afterwards, the spot where that dilapidated house or shop stood remains barren. In most towns, things change. Vacant lots become parking lots, or gentrification hits and they become tapas restaurants and dog grooming salons. But where I come from those weedy lots become part of the scenery. People would miss them if they were gone.

it’s all just so AAAARRGGHHHH! about memory, family, regret, and uncovering the darker side of childish fancies, kind of like when you learn that playful “ring around the rosy” rhyme is really about people dying from plague and you gotta take a second to process this new information into your childhood, and it rattles around uncomfortably for a while in your psyche before you can move on.

this book is too short to say too much about, but you’d be a fool not to read it. i will leave you with one more quote before i fall onto the floor, gutted.

As you get older, the texture of your fear changes. You’re no longer afraid of the things you had absolute faith in as a child: that you’d die in convulsions from inhaling the gas from a shattered light bulb, that chewing apple pips brought on death by cyanide poisoning, or that a circus dwarf had actually bounced off a trampoline into the mouth of a hungry hippo*. You stop believing in the things my uncle believed in. Even if your mind wants to go there, it has lost the nimbleness needed to make the leap. That magic gets kicked out of you, churched out, shamed out - or worse, you steal it from yourself. It gets embarrassed out of you by the kids who run the same stretch of streets and grown-ups who say it’s time to put away childish things. By degrees, you kill your own magic. Before long your fears become adult ones: crushing debts and responsibilities, sick parents and sick kids, the possibility of dying unremembered or unloved. Fears of not being the person you were so certain you’d grow up to be.

*this will make more sense after you read the book. because you’re going to read the book.

when m. davidson offered me an arc of this book, i immediately accepted because big ♥, but i didn't realize it was connected to Cataract City, and now i am even MORE excited to dive in! thank you x 1,000!

a very high four! review to come!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,486 reviews79.1k followers
October 16, 2022
"But a secret can be hidden from everyone save its holder, and the brain is not only a storyteller, it is a truth-seeking organ."

Craig Davidson, or perhaps you know him by his pseudonym, Nick Cutter, has proven that a bloated page count does not always indicate a more meaningful story. The Saturday Night Ghost Club barely surpasses the limit for a novella's page count, and yet, I'm certain I'll be pondering the lessons in this story for months to come. Knowing that Cutter typically writes gory, frightening, horror stories, I wasn't sure what type of content this book would contain, but color me endeared to find that this little ball of 1980's nostalgia introduced us to a new side of the author.

"Memory is another word for story, and nothing is more reliable."
-Ann-Marie MacDonald, Fall on Your Knees

This was SO much more than I expected it to be. The 206 page count may be small, but the narrative packs a mighty punch. Be reassured, friends who don't like horror and gory stories, because this one is not such a book. The focus of this story is more on the bittersweet aspect of coming of age, the perception of our surroundings, and how those perceptions change over time with life experience. I don't want to give anything away, but this was a story I devoured at the speed of light, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the warm fuzzies, and overall wide range of emotion, that this book brings out in the reader.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,080 reviews59k followers
August 23, 2019
The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson is a 2019 Penguin Books publication.

A stirring and bittersweet coming of age story!

Jake is a bit different from other kids his age. But, he’s nowhere near as eccentric as his lovable Uncle Calvin. Calvin owns an occult shop and has a hotline for UFO sightings or other paranormal occurrences. Naturally, he knows all about the local ghostly legends. So, when Jake makes a couple of new friends, Calvin invites them to join his ‘Saturday Night Ghost Club”.

Jake feels like he’s a part of a special group and enjoys spending time with Calvin. However, there is an underlying sense of unease as one begins to suspect there is more to Calvin’s ghost stories than a few good thrills and chills.

Jake narrates this story, as an adult, reciting his adventures through the eye lens of his twelve- year old self. Jakes occupation often urges him to ponder the many mysteries of the mind, especially where our memories are concerned.

When it comes to horror or the paranormal, ghost stories, which I hope are making a comeback, are always a favorite of mine. I also love the local legends each town seems to have, and here in my neck of the woods we have one famous enough to make it into a few ghost -story books.

So, I thought this part of the story was fun, because I may have gone on a few paranormal investigations myself in the early eighties- although I was little older than Jake. We usually ended up scaring ourselves to death more than anything else. So, this story does stir up one’s feelings of nostalgia.

Niagara Falls, though I've never been there, seems like an awesome setting for this short story, creating just the right tone and atmosphere for a good ghost story, while exposing a darker, secret part of the location we don’t typically consider.

I think many people can recall that time in our youth when a part of us desperately wanted to hold onto the innocence of our childhood, while simultaneously longing to prove our maturity, to understand the unspoken and still hidden mysteries of adulthood. It’s a wistful feeling, saying goodbye to one’s childhood as we step over the threshold and take our first tentative steps towards adulthood.

Jake, who has already taken a few lumps in life, learns a bit sooner, and in a more personal way, just how dark the world can be. The summer of his twelfth year understandably stands out in Jake's memory- so much so it most assuredly propelled him towards his ultimate career choice, as he devotes his life to learning and correcting the vast mystery and complexities of the human brain.

His recollections are vivid, and his tone is as introspective as it is retrospective. Although sadness and helplessness lie just underneath the surface, Jake's fond sentimentality often creeps into his voice as his recollections surge to life.

Because I was unfamiliar with this author, I had to do a little research to see what else he may have written. I was very surprised to learn the author also writes under the name “Nick Cutter’. Looking at those books, it is obvious this story certainly is not his usual style. Just goes to show how versatile he can be and how far he could take his talent, if he chooses to.

4 stars
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,861 followers
January 19, 2019
Thank you to Ruta at PRH Canada for sending me an early copy of this book per Craig's request.
Five stars? Why just five??
This book.
I honestly don't know how to review books I love this much because I don't want to spoil all the reader discovery for other people, so let me just calmly and collectively *try* to explain to you why this book is one you must have (I know a few of my friends have already ordered it from Amazon/Canada and they're the smart ones--they know) as soon as possible.
First, you can read Craig's book Cataract City if you want to get familiar with his literary style--that book is very Dennis LeHane meets Robert McCammon and I love it so, so much.
Secondly, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is EVERYTHING. It's EVERYTHING you want in a story. It's nostalgic, it's magical, it's supernatural, it's emotional wreckage on your heart--like you can take your heart out of your chest and slowly squeeze it for 275 pages worth of time and that's how this book *feels*. This book smells like your childhood, if your childhood had a smell and you took the essence of it and bottled it up and then sprinkled it out onto a page in the form of words.
Have you ever read any John Bellairs? Like the little boy Johnny Dixon who has this great relationship with his eccentric, old uncle and they happen to find themselves in the middle of some kind of haunted-mystery?? THAT! That!
But then, you know the best parts of a great coming of age tale, Like Boy's Life and The Body--the parts with boys being boys or boys noticing a girl for the first time and your heart just sings because it all feels so real and so familiar to the point of being this tangible feeling that lifts you up out of your real life and sucks you into the story and you just want to live in it forever and never want it to end??
This book.
I have no idea when this book will be available in the US or the UK. Craig doesn't even really know at this point. But I know people are getting it from Canada, so why wait? Go live your best bookish life, NOW and buy it and READ IT. Now. You won't regret it. I can't wait to read it again and again so hit me up for buddy reads.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
August 27, 2019
Hauntingly beautiful, wistful, & magical!

I do love me a good ghost story and pretty much anything in relation to things that go bump in the night then you can most definitely count me in.

THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB by CRAIG DAVIDSON was such a fabulous, short, memorable and bittersweet coming-of-age story that packed quite the punch in such a short amount of time. The book comes in at a whopping 246 pages which is brimming with so many wonderful attributes that definitely stirred up this readers emotions and memories.

I absolutely loved how irresistible, nostalgic, magical, and emotional this story was. The supernatural, ghost stories, and urban legends was so intriguing and I thought it ingenious in its relation to the whole story in general. I felt such warmth and love towards these characters and this book.

*Traveling Friends Read*

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: #coverlove I absolutely love the cover of this book and attributed solely to me needing to read this book.
Title: Intriguing, suspenseful, and absolutely loved how meaningfully the title plays so fittingly into storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, engaging, captivating, and readable.
Plot: Suspenseful, emotive, gripping, perfectly-paced, nostalgic, ghostly, magical, memorable, thought-provoking, held my attention fully and extremely entertaining.
Ending: A bittersweet and satisfying ending that filled me with such warmth and love.
Overall: An irresistible, unforgettable, enjoyable, entertaining, suspenseful, and fabulous read! It was an absolutely magical book brimming with pure nostalgia! Would highly recommend!

Review can also be found on Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading:
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,307 reviews28k followers
March 18, 2022
Closer to a 3.5
I really enjoyed this! It was a really beautiful thoughtful coming of age story about a boy named Jake and his Uncle Calvin, their relationship is really the center of this novel. I thought it would be a little more spooky, but there are definitely a few good spooky moments in this book! I had no idea this is the same author as The Troop just writing under a different pen name! That’s fascinating!

I really love the thoughtful quotes about childhood fears vs adult fears and how our fears change as we get older, like this one here: “Before long your fears become adult ones: crushing debts and responsibilities, sick parents and sick kids, the possibility of dying unremembered or unloved. Fears of not being the person you were so certain you’d grow up to be.”
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
837 reviews4,716 followers
September 20, 2019
Take a trip back in time with me. Let's stroll down memory lane to summertime in the 80s! Is there anything quite like that coming of age time where everything seems possible - including ghosts? This book was such a perfect fit for me and my nostalgia for the 80s. A group of misfit kids banding together for a summer adventure involving ghost hunting - count me in!

You will fall in love with Jake, Billy and Dove - trust me you won't be able to stop it. You will feel so much emotion for Uncle C (Calvin). Craig Davidson's writing is so vivid, so descriptive that you are pulled right into the story/memories. The story is dark, filled with magic and slightly haunted. It's written about that magical time in childhood when everything is on the cusp - when childhood remains rooted but that adult awareness is there, still just slightly out of reach.

This is a quick read and one that I would urge you not to miss if you grew up in the 80s and embrace the nostalgia - it packs an emotional punch that will stay with you!
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,203 reviews3,052 followers
July 23, 2019
Twelve year old ostracized Jake Baker is soft around the middle, last to be picked for any gym game and pretty much only has a friend when a kid moves to town in the summer and hangs around with him until school starts and the new kid then makes real friends with the other kids at school. But still, Jake is happy in in his own way, knowing he's on the outside, looking in, knowing to do his best not to be noticed but also knowing he's loved by his mom, dad, and Uncle Calvin. In fact Uncle Calvin is the person he spends the most time with. Calvin isn't like most adults and is in many ways, like a big kid. Calvin owns a store that deals with the supernatural, the scary, the occult and even has a special phone where he communicates with like minded people about super secret spooking happenings. Calvin's best friend is Len, who owns the video store next door and Len, Jake, and new to town siblings Billy and Dove Yellowbird start attending meetings of Calvin's "Saturday Night Ghost Club".

Jake and Billy really hit it off when Billy moves to town and Jake feels inklings of first love for Billy's fourteen year old sister Dove. Dove cares about Jake too but not in that way because she knows they are both too different and want different things in life. Still, Jake has friends, even if he knows they'll leave him behind once school starts. The story is narrated by Jake, as an adult, a successful neurosurgeon who can now look back on the summer of his twelfth year with both the wisdom of his medical training but also with the knowledge that many things about the human mind and brain cannot be explained. As the group attends the Saturday Night Ghost Club meetings, adult Jake lets us know that if only he'd been paying better attention, he would have realized things about Calvin and the ghost stories that he told, that made them even scarier and more horrible than they seemed on the surface, to his twelve year old self.

This is short bittersweet story. There is real hurt and sadness in the past but at the same time we are left with a family and friends that love and care for each other and the future looks good for these friends and family. This summer of Jake's twelfth year just shows part of what allows Jake to grow up to be the man he becomes, always a son and a nephew, even as he also becomes a husband and a father.

Thank you to Penguin Books/Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for this ARC.
Profile Image for Char.
1,682 reviews1,557 followers
June 27, 2023
3.5/5 stars!

We meet Jake as a brain surgeon, talking about memories and how our minds mold and shape them. It's an excellent framework for a coming of age story, set in Cataract City, (or Niagara Falls to the rest of us.) So let's get on with it, shall we?

As Jake struggles with school and the inevitable bully he meets brother and sister, Dove and Billy. They all become friends just in time for summer and the stage is set. Enter Uncle C and his weird curiosity shop and his Batphone. From which come calls originating from all over the country about weird and odd sights, happenings, hauntings and so forth. Uncle C and friends set out on Saturday nights to investigate local rumors and legends and everybody has a good time. Until they don't. What happens during these Saturday night outings? How did things go wrong? You'll have to read this to see.

I realize that I am one of the few people who didn't give this book 5 stars. This is why in two words: BOY'S LIFE. It was written by Robert McCammon and it's my favorite book of all time. I just couldn't help but compare the two, and BOY'S LIFE always came out ahead. But it's not just the comparison, it's the fact that there is a paragraph in this book that even uses some of the same phrases from my favorite quote of all time. That bothered me. It bothered me a lot.

That said, I did enjoy this tale. I found it not only to be nostalgic, as all good coming of age tales are, but I also found it to be poignant and sad. I did enjoy where the story took me, though I did guess, (for the most part), the dark secret that was revealed. I would have liked to have learned more about some of the characters, especially Dove, who had some secrets of her own. But this book was so short, I didn't feel that I got to know the characters as much as I would have liked.

Perhaps BOY'S LIFE has ruined all coming of age tales for me? Then again, I'm not sure of that, because I have enjoyed a few of them from independent authors lately and they all scored higher than this one for me. Perhaps it was only the similarities between this novel and my favorite book that disallowed me from becoming fully invested? Yeah, that's the reason I'm going with. Either way, this was a fun, (though poignant), quick read, and I enjoyed it!


*Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,486 reviews7,781 followers
January 9, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“What follows is an account, as I choose to remember it, of my twelfth year on this planet – the summer of the Saturday Night Ghost Club.”

When I received this from my Book Fairy, it was like . . . .

A new selection from an author who has never failed me? What could possibly go wrong? Well, allow me to take you on a journey that will hopefully eventually get to the point . . . but since it’s me maybe it won’t.

Many years ago I came across a free book written by someone I had never heard of and I thought it was the bees knees. A few months later I read . . . well pretty much the same book, but a more well known version written by a more famous author. I overlooked it because hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right? Then it happened again . . . . and again. Yes, the writing was good, but the concepts/storylines/characters took “inspired by” to a level I wasn’t comfortable with so I washed my hands of that person.

So what does that have to do with Craig Davidson? He’s too gooooooooooooooooooood to have to resort to riffing on others’ old work. Dude is so good he writes under THREE names (that I’m aware of – hell he could write under a dozen more for all I know). His stuff is the original, envelope pushing type of book other people borrow from in order to attempt to write their own, less than, pieces. And the Saturday Night Ghost Club? It’s basically this kid . . .

(That part gets a pass because pretty much every coming of age story about a male human child could be this kid.)

Telling this guy’s story . . . .

Remember him? Uncle Red? Even my friend Trudi (who loved this book and who called dibs ages ago on being the Annie Wilkes to Cutter/Davidson/Lestewka) said the same thing in her review.

There just wasn’t much to this story – either in substance or page count. The characters felt hollow and future Jake’s profession made it glaringly obvious what Uncle C’s problem was/what everything was leading up to – not to mention I cared absolutely ZERO PERCENT about the inserts regarding his patients and their brain issues. Oh, and the “big reveal????”


While some things were awesomely reminiscent of true urban legends spread throughout my youth – like KFC having to drop the term “chicken” due to creating some sort of mutant that was pretty much only breasts and legs . . . .

Other things that I would usually dismiss ended up really getting under my skin – like a teenage girl in the 1980s taking medicine for depression/bi-polar disorder (her diagnosis is not disclosed). Sorry, in the ‘80s puberty would have been blamed for this child’s mood swings.

So there it is. Sucks that I suck, but I do and so does this rating : (
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
674 reviews4,302 followers
May 5, 2020
“That magic gets kicked out of you, churched out, shamed out — or worse, you steal it from yourself.”

In 1980s Niagra Falls, 12-year-old Jake Baker and a pair of siblings who are new to town spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

A check-list for some of the things I love in books:
- Beautiful writing where I want to highlight almost every single page
- Nostalgic coming-of-age stories
- Ghost stories/urban legends
- Kids getting up to mischief on their summer holidays

So already this book is ticking a lot of boxes! There are also loveable characters, with a special shout-out to Uncle Calvin. When you’re young there is nothing more cool than an older relative who is just a little bit different. I mean, if I had an uncle who was obsessed with urban legends and ghost stories AND he owned an amazing oddities store called The Occulatorium, I’m pretty sure I’d have wanted to hang out with him all the time too!

There are so many passages where Davidson discusses memory and the brain in the most highlighter-worthy way. It’s a really beautiful book to read, the only reason I didn’t give it a full five stars was because I didn’t feel the emotional connection I had been expecting... but that’s really nothing to do with the book itself! However I will also point out that if you’re thinking this is a horror book, don’t go in expecting that! It’s very light on the horror.

Overall a beautifully haunting book. Craig Davidson is one fantastic writer! I would DEFINITELY recommend! 4 stars.
Profile Image for Sydney Books.
263 reviews6,094 followers
July 30, 2023
This was so different than I expected but I loved it 🥹
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,809 reviews801 followers
September 15, 2019
Wow. Just wow. This book is just absolutely stunning. No words I use will accurately describe how great it is but I’m going to give it a try. This story has absolutely everything you could ever want from a story. It’s magical and bittersweet and nostalgic and just the right amount of creepy. It just hits you right in the sweet spot and makes you forget the world around you while you’re between its pages. I’ve read Davidson’s work as Cutter before and it doesn’t matter which name he writes under, the man is a genius and knows how to write one hell of a flawless story!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
July 20, 2019
There's a tremendous sense of nostalgia that pervades every page of Craig Davidson's The Saturday Night Ghost Club . Not only does the book take place in the 1980s, but the storytelling seems to hearken back to a simpler time, when we were far less aware of the horrors that could take place in our very own communities, horrors which didn't involve monsters or ghosts or creatures from another dimension.

"Looking back, I am struck by how precious little it takes to convince an unwilling outsider and the new kid in town to agree to any plan, even one that involved following a gangly middle-aged man into haunted territories."

Jake Baker grew up in Niagara Falls in the 1980s. The town, which came alive in the summer thanks to tourism but was fairly deserted in the winter, was one of those places where not much happened, where people had to live to pursue a better life, and everything—and nearly everyone—had seen better days. A loner who was often bullied by his peers, Jake spent a lot of time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but somewhat goofy and eccentric man who owned a shop in town specializing in the occult and the mysteries of the beyond.

It was Uncle Calvin who helped Jake wrangle the monsters hiding in his closet, let him watch scary movies (at least until his parents found out), educated him on the existence of ghosts and other shadowy creatures, and taught him that there were mysteries in this world that didn't have easy answers. The summer Jake was 12 years old, he became friends with Billy, the new boy in town, and Dove, his erratic, mesmerizing older sister, and Calvin welcomed all of them into "The Saturday Night Ghost Club," a group determined to look into some of the more mysterious stories of their town.

But the more they start looking into these mysteries, the more Jake becomes confused by Calvin's behavior and his lengthy disappearances. He learns what it is like to have a friend you can depend on, and he is drawn to Dove and her brave yet uneven mood swings and actions. And then Jake learns that behind many mysteries there are real truths, truths we may not be ready to bear the burden of knowing, yet we must all the same.

"The brain is the seat of memory, and memory is a tricky thing. At base level, memories are stories—and sometimes those stories we tell allow us to carry on. Sometimes stories are the best we can hope for. They help us to simply get by, while deeper levels of our consciousness slip bandages on the wounds that hold the power to wreck us. So we tell ourselves that the people we love closed their eyes and slipped painlessly away from us. That our personal failures are the product of external forces rather than unfixable weaknesses....Tell yourself these stories long enough and you will discover they have a magical way of becoming facts."

Although The Saturday Night Ghost Club delves briefly into matters of the occult, ghost stories, and the like, at its heart, this is a coming-of-age book about a boy who learns perhaps earlier than he needs to about the horrors that both defy explanation but are, at the same time, very real. This is a book about the bonds of friendship, about understanding fellow misfits, and how people who are truly good at heart may have their own battles to fight.

I thought the book started a bit slowly but once it shifted away from the ghost stories and the occult and focused on relationships and the real stories, it grabbed my heart completely. Davidson did a terrific job telling this story and it felt very true to its time and place, yet at the same time when the chapters shifted to look into the future, those felt very real as well.

While the book is compared to Stranger Things and Stand By Me , I would only make that comparison in terms of their stories about friendship. And while reading The Saturday Night Ghost Club , I was reminded of my favorite quote from Stand By Me : "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?"

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,185 reviews30.5k followers
July 8, 2019
A nostalgic 80s coming-of-age? I was all in! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a slim novel filled to brim with the most nostalgic, relatable story of coming-of-age. Set during the 80s, this made the story an even better match for me.

Niagara Falls is magical, slightly dark, and a bit haunted; this is where Jake Baker grows up, mostly with his uncle Calvin. His eccentric uncle is a conspiracy theorist.

Jake is turning twelve during this particular summer, and he decides to initiate himself and two friends into the “Saturday Night Ghost Club.”

I don’t want to give away any of the charm of this most memorable book. You will love Jake and his friends. You will love the story of their summer spent finding themselves. The messages are poignant, and the writing silky smooth.

It’s been compared to Stand By Me, and I completely get it. It reminds me a touch of that, but in an even more relatable way. I strongly recommend this solid, heart-rending novel for anyone who yearns for perfect storytelling.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Ginger.
790 reviews377 followers
August 5, 2019
Okay, this review is overdue! I’m doing one on The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson since this is the first book that I’ve read of his and this book was fantastic!

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is set during the 80’s and is definitely a coming-to-age story. Jake Baker is 12, not popular and spends most of his time with his eccentric Uncle Calvin. Jake has his share of bullies until one day, a new teenage girl, Dove Yellowbird defends him. After that moment, Jake’s life starts to change slowly in a more positive and open way.

During that Summer, Dove’s younger brother, Billy goes to Uncle Calvin’s shop called the Occultorium. The Occultorium is a curio and occult shop that has anything weird, supernatural and different for sale.
Billy and Jake end up starting a lifelong friendship. Uncle Calvin or known as Uncle C ends up starting the “Saturday Night Ghost Club” between Jake, Billy, Uncle C and his friend that owns a video shop next door. Every Saturday, they go on treks throughout the Niagara Falls area to find ghost hauntings and tragic places that death occurred.

This book had Stand By Me or Stranger Things vibes and I loved it! Craig Davidson’s writing was wonderful and vivid. It had a touch of Ray Bradbury to the writing and I enjoyed this very much.
I just found out that Davidson's pen name is Nick Cutter and I have been meaning to read his horror books for some time. Guess I need to move them up the to-be-read list!

I recommend this book if you like supernatural and coming-to-age stories! It was sad at times, atmospheric, a bit creepy and wonderful!
Profile Image for Brandon Baker.
Author 14 books4,631 followers
June 7, 2022
Just beautiful. One of the best coming of age stories I’ve ever read. It’s at times creepy, thrilling, and melancholy, but very sweet and whimsical throughout. It also had a slight cosmic aspect that I really, really loved.

I’ve read all of the author’s books written under his pseudonyms Nick Cutter and Patrick Lestewka, and now I’m gonna inhale everything he’s written under his real name. He is truly one of the most versatile writers I’ve ever discovered, and is easily one of my all time favorite authors!!
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,456 followers
July 20, 2018
Like the derelict buildings that were never torn down, the abandoned shopping carts that rusted away to atoms, and all the other monuments to the city’s general apathy, the car in the oxbow had become an accepted part of the scenery. ~The Saturday Night Ghost Club
I’m calling it right here and right now - Craig Davidson’s new novel is destined to become a coming-of-age classic with the emotional heft and weight of To Kill A Mockingbird and Dandelion Wine. Ever since Cataract City, Davidson has proven his capacity to write from the point of view of children during that pivotal final season before innocence is lost and childish things are put away. There is a realism that’s laced with grit and heartache even as the sharp edges are softened by the dual lenses of nostalgia and selective memory. This is King’s best writing when he’s writing about the same thing -- The Body and The Losers’ Club. And this is definitely one book you won't want to miss – so add it to your reading list right now.

My first introduction to Jake’s eccentric Uncle Calvin – or Uncle C for short – immediately made me think of Gary Busey playing goofy, egregiously irresponsible Uncle Red in the movie Silver Bullet (and here’s where I am going to put in a plug for the podcast We Hate Movies because their Silver Bullet episode is one of the funniest goddamn things I’ve ever listened to in my entire life). But my intent using this comparison isn’t to turn you off Davidson’s Uncle C or make him the butt of a bad joke – while he has many of the traits that make Busey’s character so memorable and so easy to make fun of, Uncle C is more than just the archetype of everyone’s “fun uncle” – he is written with so much sensitivity and hidden depths you won’t see the tsunami of feels bearing down on you ready to drown you and leave you gasping for oxygen until it’s too late.

Like any coming-of-age story worth its weight, this one has teeth and will take a bite out of you. It lingers on the bittersweet pain of first love, fitting in and finding your tribe, and the inexplicable and confusing terrors lurking in the dark corners of the world of grown-ups. It is a meditation on memory, how we form memories, shape them, and re-shape them. How the human need to make sense of our lives never stops, never leaves us, the one constant we take right to the grave.

The writing is also guh! gorgeous and like Brandon I want to quote the entire book to you. But I think that’s usually frowned upon – doubly so for an ARC. Seriously though, passages like this had me swooning and reading the words aloud:
The quality of light in our part of the world was such that, just before night fell, the horizon lit up with an almost otherworldly glow. I never discovered why that was…probably the final rays of sunlight reflecting off the river basin caused this fleeting incandescence. But as a kid I thought it must be because of the sun itself—that unfeeling ball of gas—didn’t want to leave, and so it lingered, clawing up the ragged hub of the earth in order to shed the last of its light over us.”
And this:
Imagine trying to hold the tail of a comet as it blazes across the heavens. It’s burning your hands, eating you up, but there’s no malice in it; a comet can’t possibly know or care about you. You will sacrifice all you are or ever will be for that comet because it suffuses every inch of your skin with a sweet itch you cannot scratch, and through its grace you discover velocities you never dreamt possible.
The last time writing this good had me feeling this way was The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel.

Read that book, and most definitely read The Saturday Night Ghost Club.

Available August 14th.

Review copy received through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Tooter.
442 reviews184 followers
September 21, 2018
This is only my second Craig Davidson book which is great because that means I have so many more to read. The thing about Craig Davidson is that his writing is so buttery and beautiful that you find yourself wanting to highlight so many passages but you end up highlighting none because you can't narrow it down to just a few. He's that good.
Profile Image for Ron.
394 reviews97 followers
October 31, 2019
I am charmed by certain books for their unabashed look back at childhood, whether it be one summer that set a new course for a 12 year old, or simply the remembering of that one period in life with wistful affection. For Jake it is both, and more, because it is a summer with a new friend in town and the first real crush in this boy's life, not the fleeting kind for a passing pretty face, but the meaningful one for the girl who confuses your young heart. "Imagine trying to hold the tail of a comet as it blazes across the heavens" , Jake's words for his friend's older sister. It is also, this summer, a time when you still believe magic and childish fear exist. Because as you get older, ”you're no longer afraid of the things you had absolute faith in as a child.” , the things his uncle still believed in. Uncle C. is the one adult in his life who holds on to that childlike magic belief, that ghosts can be found if you look in the right place, that the stories told around a campfire are not all made by the imagination. So it is his Uncle Cal who creates the Saturday Night Ghost Club, weekly visits to places where that childhood magic and fear meet as one. By the end of this book, I was touched not only by the nostalgia of those times, but also by what the familial and friendship bonds mean to a boy, and though we grow the memories of those times remain. They are a part of us.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
529 reviews284 followers
June 24, 2020
Reality never changes. Only our recollections of it do. Whenever a moment passes, we pass along with it into the realm of memory. And in that realm, geometries change. Contours shift, shades lighten, objectives dissolve. Memory becomes what we need it to be.

I am not a sentimental person. Nostalgia usually does nothing but depress me. The Saturday Night Ghost Club is all about the nostalgia of Jake growing up in Niagara Falls and hanging out with his superstitious uncle and a few buddies. They visit a few haunts, hear a few stories, and that’s about it. Not really what I was expecting. I wanted more exploration of the local folktales and ghost stories and less coming-of-age-with-my-eccentric-uncle-dragging-me-places. It’s more about the uncle than anything else. Niagara Falls is a major tourist area, but the town feels very unpopulated. We see the main characters and no one else. And there are a few major incidents that take place in the book that don’t seem to affect the characters in any meaningful way—they just happen and the plot moves on.

This book is about growing up and having your illusions shattered—that sad reality we all must face eventually. The book is fine, but I don’t think it brings anything special to the genre. Many readers seem to enjoy this book, but I don’t think I’m a big Craig Davidson/Nick Cutter fan.

I do have a complaint that I’ll discuss in the spoiler section below...


Uncle C owns an occult shop and likes to believe in ghost stories and all that. We learn at the end of the book that the uncle suffered a major loss and then suffered major brain damage in a car accident. His personality changes after the accident and he goes from logical to superstitious and starts delving into the occult. I don’t like that Uncle C is depicted as a little crazy for believing what he believes after suffering brain damage. I think believers in the occult are just as sane as other religious-minded folks. It’s just a different belief system. If Uncle C suffered brain damage and suddenly became eccentric and a follower of Christ, I don’t think he would have been depicted in such a “crazy” manner. I didn’t care for the way the occult was looked down upon, when no other belief system was put down. It makes it seem like you have to be crazy to believe in the occult, when believing in the old bearded man in the sky can easily be seen in the same way. Just some thoughts that irked me while I read the book.
Profile Image for Mindi.
864 reviews272 followers
September 6, 2018
Have you ever read a book that you loved so much that you feel as if any review you wrote could never even begin to do it justice, so you feel stuck and unable to articulate anything? That's how I feel right now.

This is my first book by Craig Davidson, but I've read all three of the books by his alter ego Nick Cutter. Davidson does not write like Cutter. It's almost as if he becomes a different person when he writes under that name. So essentially, I was not prepared for this book.

The story alternates between young Jake and adult Jake who grows up to become a neurosurgeon. Adult Jake's stories about the brain and his patients are both interesting and sad, but the reader has no idea just how important those stories are. The majority of the novel takes place during a single summer when Jake is young and hangs out with his cool Uncle Calvin at his Occultorium shop. Jake doesn't really have any friends, so he hangs out with his Uncle C who believes in all manner of ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. One day Jake meets the Yellowbird siblings, Billy and Dove, and they become fast friends. Jake and Billy start to hang out more at the Occultorium, and one night the Saturday Night Ghost Club is born. Uncle Calvin, his friend Lex, and the boys visit sites around town that Calvin claims are haunted. As adult Jake recalls these meetings of the club he talks about memory and how much it changes as we grow older. Jake's memories of those nights are special to him, and the reader finds out in a gut punch why Jake remembers that summer so vividly.

This book will make you feel all of the things. And it will leave you a blubbering mess by the end. This book shot me straight back to my childhood and the books that I loved to read as kid. It's nostalgic and sweet and absolutely heartbreaking. This one is special. Read it.
Profile Image for Levi Walls.
138 reviews44 followers
September 11, 2018
Haunting, tragic, beautiful.

I'll leave it at that, and end with the author's words as I can't say it any more eloquently:

That magic gets kicked out of you, churched out, shamed out—or worse, you steal it from yourself. It gets embarrassed out of you by the kids who run the same stretch of streets and grown-ups who say it’s time to put away childish things. By degrees, you kill your own magic. Before long your fears become adult ones: crushing debts and responsibilities, sick parents and sick kids, the possibility of dying unremembered or unloved. Fears of not being the person you were so certain you’d grow up to be....
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,753 reviews701 followers
December 13, 2019
This a little slice of life, coming of age story about a young boy, his new best friend, his first crush and his adventures with his quirky uncle who creates something he calls "The Saturday Night Ghost Club". I figured out the end way before the big reveal which tells me I am either getting smarter (not likely) or that I've probably read too many books like this one and that the clues were very obvious. It was still a fabulous tale written with a lot of heart. Bittersweet and slightly creepy. Give it a go, if you stumble across it.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,215 reviews3,217 followers
July 13, 2018
4.0 Stars
This is such a wonderful coming of age story filled with nostalgia and beautiful imagery. Davidson is an incredibly talented author with some mad writing chops! While reading, I found myself constantly highlighting passages in this novel.

This is the kind of literary fiction that will appeal appeal also to genre readers, like myself. While not at all scary, this story has many elements a classic horror story, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Well constructed and tightly written, this short piece of fiction was the perfect length and a joy to read. I highly recommend this gorgeous piece of Canadian literature to a wide range of readers..

I received a copy from the publisher.
Profile Image for Carol.
2,601 reviews81 followers
January 9, 2023
It really isn't a ghost story as the title would have you believe and that in itself was a bit of a disappointment. It's a moving tale about loss, haunting, and regret. It's also a beautiful coming of age story which, in many ways, is a bit like The Body by Stephen King, though more lighthearted and wistful. The ending is profoundly touching and sad, but also hopeful. At the same time, we have a love affair with the weird and the strange. So, without any overtly supernatural events, what is the "ghost club"? Narrator Jake Baker tells us about the summer he turned twelve, during which he becomes a charter member of the Saturday Night Ghost Club. It was founded by his kindly eccentric uncle, Calvin. Calvin is a little bit older than middle-aged, and he is obsessed with the supernatural. He runs an odd little shop called the "Occultorium", which specializes in the weird, the strange, and the bizarre. He feeds on conspiracy theories like a child would on cotton candy. He is, for the most part, harmless. A man who loves to tell the children stories of the bizarre and the supernatural. Throughout the story, Jake notices that his parents, while not leery of Uncle Calvin, seem to be guarded about his past, and his actions...so it's best the Ghost Club remains a secret. We learn that Uncle Calvin believes their small town of Cataract City is a very haunted place. Over the summer he takes Jake and two other kids in town on expeditions to explore these haunted places. Uncle Calvin become stranger as the summer goes on. He has terrible nightmares...draws strange and disturbing pictures in his sleep. Are these "haunted places" the cause and exactly what is the purpose of the Ghost Club"? The ending is profoundly touching and sad, but also hopeful.
Profile Image for Brandon.
914 reviews235 followers
July 18, 2018
"Reality never changes.  Only our recollections of it do.  Whenever a moment passes, we pass along with it into the realm of memory.  And in that realm, geometries change.  Contours shift, shades lighten, objectivities dissolve.  Memory becomes what we need it to be."

Neurosurgeon Jake Breaker recalls a summer spent in Niagara Falls many years ago when along with two of his friends and his eccentric Uncle C, they formed the Saturday Night Ghost Club - a ragtag group of misfits who explored the urban myths of Cataract City.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a remarkable novel.  Although it is set in the heart of the 1980s, it doesn’t resemble the current trend of mining nostalgia for a quick buck - characters aren’t quipping quotes from sci-fi movies or talking about the next great 8-bit video game on the horizon.  Instead, this story focuses on memory and the power of the human mind to re-shape our own past for better or for worse - how the events of your life will shape and define you, even if you remember them differently than they happened.

As much as I loved Cataract City - and I would probably still consider that my favorite of Davidson’s books to date - The Saturday Night Ghost Club makes a strong case as his best written work.  There are some passages and quotes within that absolutely blew me away.  I fell hard for this story.  There is some deep heartbreak on display here with characters who will stick with me for years to come.  This isn’t a novel you let wash over you; it isn’t a beach read.  It’s a story you find pieces of yourself in; similarities of the small town you grew up in and those who aged around you.  The best comparison I can make would be to some of Stephen King’s more introspective work like The Body (Stand By Me), an author whom Davidson credits in his acknowledgements as someone who shaped his style early on in his life.

If I had it my way, I would just fill this review with passage after passage, but I feel I would just end up copy/pasting the entire novel which I don’t believe I’m allowed to do.  The Saturday Night Ghost Club further establishes Craig as one of my favorite authors - this is not one you should miss. 
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
740 reviews230 followers
September 10, 2018
I was skeptical when going into this book. Despite the excellent reviews it has gotten, it had two strikes against it, for me: Craig Davidson is the author behind the Nick Cutter name, and I am not a Cutter fan. As well, I am more than burned out on the ‘80s nostalgia trope that is so big in horror right now.

And to this book’s credit, the ‘voice’ sounds nothing like Cutter — and the ‘80s setting is perfectly written without coming across as cloying or overdone. This doesn’t feel like an attempt to cash in on Stranger Things hype. This relatively short work (my hardcover comes in at 245 pages) is just . . . lovely. Everything is done well, and there’s something on display for all readers: supernatural, hints of creepiness, well written prose, likable characters, surprising twists. The Saturday Night Ghost Club is an efficient, well-made book that hits all the marks it should.

What knocked down my rating from five stars to four is this book does mirror McCammon’s Boy’s Life just a little too closely at times . . . Peter Straub’s Shadowland, too. But unlike those weighty novels, this story is downright breezy, able to be read in a few sittings. So for it’s few faults, at least it does its job and gets out of the way.

This is an excellent autumnal read and it deserves all the praise it is getting. I don’t know when it will be available in the States, or the UK, but it is available from Canada. Check it out!
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