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Review: The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

I love scary stories, I love haunted house stories and reading a scary haunted house story on Halloween night with minimal lighting is almost as good as the candy I was handing out neighborhood kids!  Ms. Muto has a gift for drawing you into her books to the point where you can smell the sawdust of renovations layered over a patina of age and abandonment.

Silar house is located in Savannah – the most haunted city in the U.S. – and has stood empty for decades after the tragic murder of the original owner’s twin daughters.  Stories of unusual paranormal activity around the property had discouraged potential buyers as the house fell into disrepair.  Finally, a builder buys the property with visions of turning it into a haunted Bed and Breakfast.  As the renovations near completion the house is rented out to a paranormal researched (Dr. Brandt) who invites four teens, each with a history of paranormal abilities, to spend a month in the house testing it for paranormal activities.

The story builds slowly, introducing each character as they arrive to begin the experiment.  The house, although the renovations are nearly complete, is frightening in its very existence, surrounded by woods, guarded by a fence with a gate that bears an electronic lock and the grave site of the two murdered girls.  The grave site itself is fenced and gated to protect the monument that has life-size statues of the twins.  Add an older housekeeper who is related to the Silars and has a habit of appearing unexpectedly and you have a brilliant recipe for a haunted read.

The characters (including the house) are well drawn and you can identify with their fear of the house as well as of their abilities.  The story follows these four young adults as they cope with their fears and eventually band together to solve the mystery of Silar house.

I highly recommend this to older young adults as well as older adults.  Ms. Muto’s writing is sophisticated enough to keep both groups of readers engaged in the story and its outcome.  If you are looking for something to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, this is the book for you.  I’d suggest a fire, some candles and hot chocolate (spiked if you’re old enough) to enhance the atmosphere as you lose yourself in this story.  Well done Michelle!

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