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Shudder by Courtney Alameda

October 23, 2015

ShutterMicheline 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.

Geez, this was a slightly terrifying book.

Scary stories aren’t usually my thing, The Shades of London series being closer to my level of creepy. But, Shutter was October’s book club pick, so I dived in without even reading the synopsis. And promptly proceeded to curl up into a tiny ball while reading on public transit. Because this is Shades of London kicked up a couple notches.

Micheline Helsing has had to face some pretty gruesome things in her life, and in Shutter we get to face them with her. But while they made me cover my eyes and curl up in the fetal position, they’ve only made her more determined. She’s a character who has to think fast on her feet and while she doesn’t always make the right choices, she’s not going lie down and give up. She is a fighter until the last. Needless to say, she’s a character I grew fond of (but she’d probably beat me up for admitting it).

My favourite thing about Shutter, however, was its references to Dracula. Which I coincidentally happened to be in the middle of reading when I started Shutter. It was a really interesting, and, dare I say, enriching experience to be reading the original classic side by side with the Alameda’s story of the characters descendants. I have yet to finish Dracula but I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the story parallels with Micheline’s adventures.

This would have worked great as a standalone book, but I have a feeling it’s going to be the start of a series. And yes, I will be reading the next book. At least this time I’ll know what I’m getting myself into.

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