I found "Help for the Haunted" at Thrift Books and it sat on my "To Read" shelf for months before I finally got around to reading it. The title is great, isn't it. The cover is also great. And the blurbs on the front and back covers are great. Gillian Flynn, author of "Gone Girl," claims that it is "Dazzling...a novel both frightening and beautiful."
But I didn't like it. It wasn't beautiful, and it didn't dazzle me. Maybe if I'd ever read "Gone Girl" or any of Gilliam Flynn's other books I would have liked this one. Maybe it's just a matter of taste.
But it seems to me that this book, while really well structured and well written, with all those descriptive elements and occasional moments of "truth," which I've mentioned in other contexts, doesn't pass the test.
If any of my Dear Readers have read this, and liked it, please, please, please, let me know. Please correct me. Please show me the way. Because maybe I just didn't like it because of my own situation and the situations of people I know who are in some ways like the heroine/narrator of this book, so it kinda scares me and makes me back away from the story.
Because it's about a girl whose parents run a paranormal-"help-for-the-haunted" business, and the girl's sister, and some other girls who have been "helped" by these parents, and the parents of all these girls, and the religious beliefs and practices of these parents.
Like the Joanna Russ story "Souls," this one is narrated by a child, a "naif," someone who doesn't really know everything that's going on. Who are the Vikings here? And who is the Abbess? I don't know. Maybe that's why I don't like this book.
But, also, Dear Readers who have not yet read this book, I want you to know that it's good enough, it's satisfying enough, it's mysterious enough, that even though I couldn't make myself read the whole thing, I did read more than I wanted to. I just don't think this is what makes a book "good" in my strict judgment of literature. If you'd like to read it, I'll send it to you, and then I'd love to hear what you think of it. Maybe you can tell me, "You should have read the whole thing!" Or, "You're right, you would have liked it if it hadn't struck so close to home." Or, "Wow, Aunt Louise, it's probably just because your tastes have changed over the years, b/c I remember when you used to love books like that." Or, "Have you become a snob?" Or something like that.
Let me know, okay?