When I was younger, I’m pretty sure I saw a ghost creeping up the stairs in the house we lived in. I wasn’t by myself, my best friend at the time, R, saw it too and we promptly screamed, ran into my bedroom and hid from “The Shadow Man”. “The Shadow Man” lurked at top of the staircase, just past the reach of the dining room light, waiting for unsuspecting children to venture up the steps where he would snatch them and disappear with them… or so I was convinced. Not long after that we moved, because that was what we just did back in those days, and we were on to another house in another neighbourhood. A while back, when we were talking about ghosts, my mother recalled that house and how things would go missing one minute, like potholders in the kitchen, and reappear the next. Maybe there wasn’t a “Shadow Man” but it seems as if something weird was actually going on in that particular house.
While reading “The Haunting Season” I was reminded of “The Shadow Man” and, as you’d expect, became thoroughly creeped out… so much so that I had to put the book down for the evening and come back to it the next day. I don’t spook very easily, all things considered, so that definitely says something about Michelle Muto’s tale of a haunted house in Savannah and four teenagers’ experiences with the paranormal during their time at Siler House.
Let me back up and explain a bit more about the teens, Jess, Gage, Bryan and Allison. They’ve all got special… gifts. (I don’t like to say “powers” because that sounds way too superhero-ish.) Jess can see spirits, Allison can see (and be possessed by) demons, Gage is a necromancer of sorts and Bryan can make things vanish into the ether. They’ve all got interesting traits and backstories and they’re all at Siler House for a reason. I won’t ruin the plotline but let’s just say it’s pretty nefarious as is the facilitator for their trip, Dr Brandt.
I thought the attraction and relationship between Jess and Gage was a bit quick but then again, they’re teens and they’re in a confined space with scary stuff going on around them. I suppose you find comfort and distraction where you can and I honestly don’t blame them!
I would liked to have seen more from Allison as each chapter is predominantly told from a slanted view from either Jess or Gage. I think Allison’s perspective could have made the novel even creepier, as she’s constantly alluding to seeing demons and that “they’re not alone” and the like. Allison creeped me out in general so seeing things from her point of view could have been really interesting.
The gore was fantastic. I’m a huge fan of blood and guts (I adore cheesy slasher flicks, for goodness’ sake) and “The Haunting Season” definitely delivered on that front. Riley’s story was suitably gruesome and only got better with Jess’s vision in the woods. Just brilliant and a 10 out of 10 on the stomach churning scale.
With lots of creaks and groans and bumps in the night, “The Haunting Season” is guaranteed to appeal to horror fiction fans and to people who just want a cracking scary read.