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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing
It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, fourteen-year-old 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...
Published 3 months ago by Linby

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as creepy as I would have liked...
3.5 Stars for this one. I had high hopes for this novel, reading other reviews it was pitched as a creepy supernatural thriller of sorts. I was ready to be creeped out and scared, mesmerised and thrilled. It didn't happen, sorry to say, it just didn't have one scary thing in it at all.

The book is well written, the characters are well developed, the plot had so...
Published 5 months ago by Maxine (Booklover Catlady)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing, 23 Sep 2014
By 
Linby "linby" (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Kindle Edition)
It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, fourteen-year-old 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 searched for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years . . .

I’ve never read any books by John Searles, but I was attracted to the book by the quote on the cover from Gillian Flynn – the author of “Gone Girl”, which I absolutely loved reading.
This is a difficult review to write, because I am not one for giving out spoilers on books, and so much of what I want to write could give the game away.
It’s true to say the book is a part psychological thriller and part a story of the paranormal, I must admit to being a little scared of reading this book at night. The author writes to great effect – letting your mind run wild on its own, as he hints at what’s happening, rather than penning outlandish tales of the paranormal. The quality of the writing is superb, I so love a book when you just make no effort to read it, it’s like you’re really there. Searle’s writing just flows, you feel for his characters and I even got a little protective over some of them. Unusually for a thriller the author really takes time to give the characters dimension.
The story is told back and forth through the years, a style which is so often over used by author’s these days. However, in this case it actually added value to the story. Once you got used to the style and where the book was going it was as easy to go the past as continue into the future.
I had a few theories of my own about how this book would end. I’ve read a lot of books where I have been disappointed to have guessed the ending – not so with this book. It kept me guessing right to the end, and I was actually gasping out loud as the story unfolded towards the end of the book – always the sign of a good book for me!

So, if you like Gone Girl I would give this a read. I’ll definitely be looking for more books by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, good-written, suspenseful and emotional mystery story that could be fully recommended, 9 Feb 2014
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Hardcover)
"Help for the Haunted" by John Searles is an exciting thriller/mystery book that will stay in your memory.

The story main characters are Sylvie Mason and her family that has very unusual profession - they're helping haunted souls who seek for their peace.
When one night family will receive phone call from Sylvie's sister and sets off to the local church, while Sylvie was waiting outside shortly afterwards they will be murdered in an extremely brutal manner. Sylvie will be trying to solve the mystery of their killing, but she will also learn about some long time ago hidden secrets that haunted them all...

The book plot doesn't proceed linear, it's moving forward and backwards in time prior to their killing while Sylvie is gradually picking up small pieces of puzzle to be able to uncover what really happened that night in church and what exactly caused it...

The story pace is good, and filled with twists and turns that are expected in books of this genre.
Although the book theme is odd, its characters seems realistic, they are as complex as people are all around.
Especially that can be said about Sylvie who is believable teenager and not like some others teens we encounter in modern literature.

This was the first book I read from John Searles and I like his literary style.
He's elegant in his writing style and scenes he created with his words manage to scare reader succeeding in creation of creepy atmosphere.
By introducing special kind of psychological turns he presented himself as skillful storyteller, and not just one of the many similar authors in thriller/mystery genre.

Although in some moments his style reminded me of Stephen King, John Searles's book is original, good-written, suspenseful and emotional mystery story that could be fully recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and beautifully written; hard to categorise, 19 Jan 2014
By 
Joanne Sheppard (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Kindle Edition)
I don't believe in ghosts, the Devil or demonic possession but I find people who do - or rather, people who make a living out of them - endlessly fascinating. Help For The Haunted by John Searles is the story of Sylvester and Rose Mason, who make their living performing exorcisms and delivering lectures on the subject, and their daughters.

The elder daughter, Rose Jr, is named after her mother and the younger child, Sylvie, who narrates the story, after her father. That may give you some idea of what sort of people the Masons are: it's clear that they expect their daughters to share their beliefs and values, no matter how inflexible they might be. This hasn't necessarily been a problem for kind, studious Sylvie, but the rift between the rest of the family and Rose, whose behaviour is not only challenging but at times borders on the sociopathic, has been growing painfully by the day.

One night, the errant Rose calls home late at night to arrange a desperate meeting with her parents at their former church, setting in motion a series of events which leads to their deaths before the altar.

What follows is hard to categorise. There are elements of supernatural horror, of psychological thriller, of murder mystery, of family drama and of a coming-of-age novel as 14-year-old Sylvie tries to make sense not just of her parents' murders but of the strange family life they led in the years preceding them, and of her parents' dangerous and sinister work. What's real and what isn't? Who is leaving mysterious packages of food on the doorstep for Sylvie and her sister? What is the significance of the old ragdoll locked in a rabbit hutch in the basement?

Sylvie is a perfect mix of resourcefulness and vulnerability, with that characteristic combination of intelligence and naivety so often seen in exceptionally bright teenagers. Torn by conflicting loyalties and neglected both by social services and by manipulative, unpredictable Rose, who at barely 19 is now her legal guardian, Sylvie is in a horribly difficult situation, and it's hard not to want to reach into the pages of the book and give her a hug. Being generally eager to please and grieving for her parents, the memory of whom she is understandably reluctant to sully with her investigations, Sylvie isn't naturally tough or feisty, which makes her quiet determination all the more admirable.

John Searles also does a fine job with the character of Rose. She's callous, disruptive and spiteful, yet far from two-dimensional, and the more we learn about her the more we can understand her. The supporting characters are gratifyingly complex, particularly the Mason parents themselves, who we visit in flashback throughout the book, Sylvester's troubled brother Howie and journalist Sam Heekin, author of a controversial book about the Masons and their work. Murder suspect Albert Lynch and his 'haunted' daughter Abigail are also fascinating, if not a little a disturbing.

It's the ending that stops Help For The Haunted being a five-star read for me. It's certainly gripping, and in a way, oddly satisfying, but it's also rather rushed and appears to have an irksome plot-hole (I don't know if John Searles has ever experienced an injury that entails being slumped on the floor with a leg bent out at an unnatural angle, but if he has, I'd like to see how the hell he achieved what he makes his afflicted character do next).

Despite this, Help For The Haunted is a compelling, sometimes unsettling and often moving read that questions how much any of us really know about the people closest to us.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Adored this. SO addictive., 5 Oct 2014
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Paperback)
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 background and events leading up to the time that everything changes. It is truly compelling throughout and highly addictive – as Sylvie struggles to make sense of her life and the lives of those around her you will be enthralled, immersed into their world and barely able to look away. Often horrifying, definitely upon occasion very creepy and yet with an elegance and depth to it that will resonate, this is absolutely one of the best books I have read this year.

Sylvie provides our eyes and ears – she is the “good” daughter, the one who is accepting and who never causes trouble. She has a love/hate relationship with her sister Rose, who is a completely fascinating character, not so willing to forgive or understand and who has her own inner demons to fight..as such I found her enthralling and often eminently dislikeable yet more fragile than she cares to admit. Extremely well drawn both, they provide the anchor around which all else flows, in a tale that is at turns enchanting and alarming.

I kind of don’t want to give anything else away. How they cope, what happens, where and why – these are all things to discover as things unfold…at its heart it is the tale of one family, the author simply allowing his characters to speak, and the reader to draw their own conclusions. An intelligent and very appealing novel, with some surprising twists and turns, a complete tale which lends itself well to allowing the readers imagination to have full flow, I’m very sorry to say goodbye to this one. And without doubt I shall be reading more from this author. Preferably VERY soon.

**Source: Publisher review copy + now I've purchased a finished copy!**
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as creepy as I would have liked..., 17 July 2014
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Kindle Edition)
3.5 Stars for this one. I had high hopes for this novel, reading other reviews it was pitched as a creepy supernatural thriller of sorts. I was ready to be creeped out and scared, mesmerised and thrilled. It didn't happen, sorry to say, it just didn't have one scary thing in it at all.

The book is well written, the characters are well developed, the plot had so much promise, but it was like it built up, built up then just plateaued for me. What's it about? Sylvie witnesses her parents being killed, she and her sister Rose continue to live together and the book swings back and forth from past to present.

Rose is a very interesting character, her and Sylvie are like polar opposites as sisters, light and shade, dark and light, Yin and Yang. One is fire, the other is water, there are some interesting family dynamics through the book for sure, and secrets that pop up here and there.

Sylvie's parents are helpers of haunted souls, essentially Christians who pray for those who are afflicted by bad things. But it was not creepy one bit, no nail biting moments, there should have been, I wanted to insert them myself, it would have been such a great read if it was.

But the story meanders and tells the tale of her parents lifestyle, their "fame", the impact it has on the family, how they met, etc. But I was baffled, the book is brilliantly penned but seemed to lack gumption and the chill factor it should of had.

I liked it, but I did not LOVE it, it was one of those books where I kept waiting for something to happen. The ending is interesting, possibly almost not plausible but hey, this is fiction, authors can write what they want.

I don't understand the reviews that state this book is creepy, a supernatural book that sends chills down the spine. Maybe I am just thick skinned, but nothing in this was doing that for me, it might for you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting., 18 July 2014
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Kindle Edition)
I received a copy of Help for the Haunted from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I picked this one up originally expecting it to be a paranormal story and that's what it seemed to be at the start. As I got into it though it turned out to be more of a light murder mystery than paranormal.

I found it very slow and while it wasn't a bad story, the whole time I was reading I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. The characters felt a little flat to me, the only character in the book that had depth was Sylvie who the story revolved around.

To be honest I was disappointed, I read reviews that said it was creepy, disturbing and full of suspense, it was none of that for me. I found myself picking up other books instead and then having to almost force myself to pick this one back up just to finish it. It just wasn't holding my attention and the story felt like it wasn't going anywhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller Keeps You Guessing Til the End, 14 Dec 2013
By 
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Kindle Edition)
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?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A completely different read for me, 2 Oct 2013
By 
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Hardcover)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yes its kind of about the Warren's, but..., 25 July 2014
By 
Mr. A. Douglas "Adam Douglas" (Ipswich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Kindle Edition)
I absolutely loved this book. I don't really want to spoil it for anyone - but I think to me it was just pitched in the right place. It felt like the writer kind of has a good idea of what is haunting the haunted, but isnt 100% sure there might not be more to it...

If you a fan of Ed and Lorraine Warren you will probably hate the book for its portrayal of them. If you are a Skeptic with a capital S, you will probably hate the book for being too gentle. I personally found it a balanced and subtle portrayal.

The ending maybe a bit contrived, and may seem to come out of nowhere... but so do real endings as well I expect. The central character is also brilliantly and sympathetically drawn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I've just finished this book and loved it., 8 Dec 2014
This review is from: Help for the Haunted (Paperback)
`Help For The Haunted' by John Searles.
I loved this book. You delve into the world of Sylvie who is the `Good Daughter' her sister turns, not only into a difficult teenager fighting against her parents life choices but also a teenager, that through no fault of her own can't accept her parent's beliefs.
The chapters alternate between past and present. Through the eyes of Sylvie, each chapter gives you a little more information. This is a psychotically thriller about a dysfunctional family and the consequences that derive from that dysfunction.
I would recommend this book to readers who like to be kept guessing whilst perched at the end of their seat, to be finally brought into the light of knowing with an unexpected and harrowing revelation.
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Help for the Haunted
Help for the Haunted by John Searles
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