9780060779641

HELP FOR THE HAUNTED

John Searles

John Searles’s Help for the Haunted is an unforgettable story of a most unusual family, their deep secrets, their harrowing tragedy, and ultimately, a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery.

Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night,

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John Searles’s Help for the Haunted is an unforgettable story of a most unusual family, their deep secrets, their harrowing tragedy, and ultimately, a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery.

Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence.

A year later, Sylvie is living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened to their parents. Now, the inquisitive teenager pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night—and to the truth about her family’s past and the secrets that have haunted them for years.

Capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works with the compelling quirkiness of John Irving’s beloved novels, Help for the Haunted is that rare story that brings to life a richly imagined and wholly original world.

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Paperback

Price: $14.99

ISBN: 9780060779641

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About John Searles

John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He frequently appears as a book critic on NBC's Today show and CBS's The Early Show. He is the Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City.

Praise

“John Searles wrapped a ghost story inside a mystery, and the result is a worthy thriller…Help for the Haunted’s alternating chapters are cleverly split in time to reveal what came before and after a deadly tragedy at the heart of this captivating story.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The perfect Halloween read for those with a taste for haunted basements, creepy always-smiling dolls, and weirdly dysfunctional families…Searles brings the torture of adolescence, the scourge of notoriety, and the pain of being young and different vividly to the page.”—Boston Globe

“A dazzling, dark portrait of a troubled family beset by the supernatural. Searles ratchets up the tension with every passing chapter, and delivers authentic and well-earned scares–all written through the lens of a lonely teenager searching for answers. The result is a novel both frightening and beautiful.”Gillian Flynn

“Creepy, disturbing and compelling, with well-drawn characters, this is gothic suspense at its finest.”Statesman Journal (Oregon)

Discussion Questions

After her parents' death, Sylvie learns from Father Coffey that her family was driven out of the

church by rumors and gossip. But the Masons were very devout. How does the tension between their

faith and their unusual activities play out? In what ways do the intersections of these two forces make

sense?

When speaking in Ocala, Sylvester says he investigates “the otherness” of the world we live in.

What, exactly, do you think this means? Are demons and spirits the only manifestations of “otherness”

we encounter in the novel? Are there any kinds of “otherness” that the Masons are not interested in

confronting?

When Sylvester drags Rose out of their hotel in Ocala – once she has returned from her evening with Uncle Howie – what do you think

he says to her?

In the theater, Howie recounts for Sylvie how he admitted to Sylvester the truth about the “globules.” Why do you think Sylvester

reacted the way he did, with silence? How do you explain the other encounters he had that weren't Howie's tricks? Why were the ghosts

so important to him?

Why are the horses Howie gave her so significant to Sylvie? What do you think they represent, and why is she so upset when they

break?

Of the Entwistles, Sylvie's mother says, “What they were doing, I believe, was sharing with us a kind of truth they had created for

themselves…There are times when it is easier to fool yourself than swallow some jagged piece of reality.” What are some other examples

in the book of characters fooling themselves?

With her father gone, there are many different men that Sylvie turns to for guidance: Sam Heekin, Detective Rummel, Derreck, Arnold

Boshoff, Father Coffeey, Lloyd, and Uncle Howie. What role do they each play in her life?

Sylvie's mom and her dad have very different reactions when Abigail begins to take Rose's place in their household. Why is this? And

what does Abigail represent for each of them?

Derreck says to Sylvie, “It's not the end of the world if you don't always know all the answers.” We eventually learn who killed the

Masons but, at the end of the book, what questions are we still left with? What are some answers that Sylvie is still looking for?