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Help for the Haunted: A Novel Audiobook, by John Searles Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: John Searles Narrator: Emma Galvin Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2013 ISBN: 9780062190550
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “I was completely consumed by Help for the Haunted; I read it in one sitting. I just can’t decide what I loved the most: its perfectly pitched teenage narrator; the ghost story that kept me riveted; the thriller that made me say, ‘Oh, just one more chapter.’”

    Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “A quickly paced and boldly rendered ghost story, Searles’ dark novel about a young girl haunted by the murder of her parents had me up reading all night. And checking the doors. I found it impossible to put down.” 

    Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Wonderful.…A coming of age tale that is poignant and touching…and will scare the living hell out of you. I loved every page of this novel: I loved the sisters and the story and the page-turning mystery. I just may never go downstairs into my basement again.” 

    Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author

  • “The chills deliver, but the depth of the story is what really sets this book apart.”, editorial review

  • “Disturbingly engrossing.”


  • “A masterful genre mash-up that’s part paranormal thriller, part coming-of-age story, part crime fiction, Searles’ eerie novel about a young girl uncovering the mystery of her parents’ murders builds to a stunning and poignant conclusion.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “The family demons are more troubling than the supernatural ones in John Searles’ new novel...Sylvie’s flashbacks and exploration of her mom and dad’s relationship will haunt readers’ hearts after they turn the final page.”

    USA Today

  • “[Searles] has crafted a strange, spooky world that is absolutely believable. Sweet, precocious, desperate Sylvie is a memorable young striver in the tradition of Scout Finch, and Help for the Haunted is an exceptional piece of storytelling.”

    Washington Post

  • “A poignant story of a family, of parents navigating an odd and dangerous career, of daughters shaken by doubt and loss and grief—and the gulf that widens between them all...A compelling mystery.”

    Miami Herald

  • “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

  • “Full of terror, totally compelling, believable, and ghostly chilling...The horror that stocks this page-turner is so adroitly grounded in things ordinary and real that the reader almost suspends disbelief and comes to think that maybe there are malevolent spirits out there.”


  • “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

  • “Involves both classic horror elements (a malevolent rag doll, a stolen diary, a hatchet, a scary basement) and contemporary ones (a prescription for Vicodin). Searles controls the plot with a sure hand and wraps up the situation on Butter Lane in a satisfying and believable way.”

    New York Newsday

  • “[Help for the Haunted] is no simple ghost story...As the story zips back and forth through time, it’s rarely clear what’s real and what’s not, though one thing is for sure: the ‘literal’ bedevilment the Masons cast from other houses is nothing compared to what’s in their own.”

    Chicago Magazine

  • “Searles expertly manages his cleverly conceived plotline as he alternately withholds and doles out key information in tantalizing fashion. Amid the fascinating cast of characters, including her ne’er-do-well uncle, a kindhearted school counselor, and the specter of her supportive mother, is the unforgettable Sylvie. Somewhat geeky and blind to her own family’s dynamics, Sylvie manages to figure out the hows and whys behind the catastrophic event that changed her life forever. Superlative storytelling.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Sylvie is the younger of two daughters of devout parents who dedicate their lives to assisting people who are haunted by ghosts or demons. When her parents are murdered, Sylvie identifies a suspect, but is he really the murderer? Emma Galvin adopts the flat tone of a teenager who is telling a tale she would rather not have anything to do with. Interspersed are reminiscences of her mother, which are filled with warmth; her rebellious sister; and her father, whose arrogance drove them all. As the trial approaches, Sylvie questions her identification of the suspect, and Galvin’s voice dramatizes her indecision while building a quiet undercurrent of suspense.”


  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2013
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • Winner of the 2014 YALSA Alex Award
  • A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Young Adults
  • A 2013 School Library Journal Best Book
  • A September 2013 LibraryReads Pick

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About the Author

John Searles is the author of the bestselling novels Boy Still Missing and Strange But True. He appears regularly as a book critic on NBC’s Today Show and has also appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, Live! With Regis & Kelly, and on CNN to discuss his favorite book selections. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, and other national publications. He lives in New York City. 

About the Narrator

Emma Galvin won the 2011 Audie Award for best fiction narration, was a finalist for the Audie Award in 2012, and won six AudioFile Earphones Awards for her narrations. A graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, her film appearances include My Suicidal Sweetheart, A Perfect Fit, and The Big Bad Swim. She has performed in several regional theater productions, including Love Punky, The Power of Birds, and The Realm.