I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Shutter by Courtney Alameda
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Ghosties, Horror, Paranormal
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Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat -- a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.
Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.
“Hand for a hand, and tooth for a tooth –
Chain down the souls of Abraham’s youth.
Eye for an eye, and life for a life –
Down stabs vengeance, swift as a knife.”
Shutter brings to life a world where the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage continue the family tradition of battling the supernatural. Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat, someone that possesses the ability to see the ghostlight of the undead. Being able to see them allows her to use modified analog SLR camera to capture the ghostly energy with each flash. Most ghosts could be captured by this method with a couple of photographs, however, their latest assignment refuses to go down so easy. When it infects Micheline and each member of her team with a Soulchain, finding out how to destroy it is more imperative than ever after they learn they have a mere 7 days before the Soulchains take their lives.
Alameda has created a most impressive world in her debut novel. The concept is an amalgamation of Ghostbusters and the video game Fatal Frame with the historical fiction addition of the Helsing and Stoker families that allied in the late 1800s to defeat Dracula. It would have been easy for this combination to go wrong but Alameda makes it all seem quite ideal. The concept behind Micheline’s weapon was impeccably detailed backed by an immense amount of obvious research. It was all fully fleshed out and inevitably sounded completely logical, however it reached a point where I found myself getting lost in the details. Normally I would say that too much detail vs. not enough would be preferable but that wasn’t the case here. An explanation that was spread throughout the story would have been more desirable than the near info-dump in the books beginning. There was a point where so much time was spent on the detailing that I lost focus on the story itself and actually put the book on hold only to come back to it later.
Being a huge fan of horror novels I had some high expectations going in (but mostly because, holy crap that cover.) Alas, I was, for the most part, left disappointed. Although the proper elements were all in place and excellent use of description was used effectively, it didn’t ever truly frighten me. Nonetheless, this was still an action packed page-turner even if the mystery itself was easily foreseeable. Two things I did not foresee: 1. the inclusion of a Romeo & Juliet style romance (“My father’s rules kept us imprisoned in adjacent cells; we were able to reach through the bars, but we couldn’t ever by truly, madly, inseparably together.”) and 2. it’s fairly clear that this is the start of a new series. I’m not absolutely certain, but there were enough loose ends left that could definitely lead to the continuation of this tale. I can’t say I’m against this idea though. I think with all the world-building details out of the way this could be a solid supernatural series that I would definitely be willing to pick up again.
Mild on horror, mild on romance but definitely an entertaining thrill ride of a story.