Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Jess, who talks to ghosts, quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects. One is a girl possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who really knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead.
The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. In order to escape, Jess and the others will have to open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that has welcomed them all.
I fell in love with Michelle Muto’s writing from the time I read the first chapter of The Book of Lost Souls, a fun YA paranormal book with a hint of romance, plenty of humor and a really nasty bad guy thrown into the mix. She broke my heart – almost literally – in her New YA paranormal book, Don’t Fear the Reaper, which begins when a grief stricken teen commits suicide. Neither book could have prepared me for The Haunting Season. It was terrifying, raw and gritty. I knew it was going to be scary, I had been warned, but this one still took me by surprise. In a very good, all be it very scary way. *shivers*
There are several reasons why this book got to me. Not just because of the obvious horror supplied by the ghosts but more by the internal horror that each one of these young characters were dealing with. Lots of adults read a YA or New YA book and want to reach into the book and give the characters a ‘time out’. I’m the opposite. More often than not I find myself wanting to shake some sense into the adults. Let’s just say that The Haunting Season brought the ‘Mom’ out in me in a big way. I wanted to not only give the adults in this book a piece of my mind but I wanted to give each one of the kids in The Haunting Season a huge hug and try to erase all the hurt and doubt that had been laid on them. That’s nothing new though. Michelle Muto isn’t the only author who has brought out the protective ‘Mom’ gene in me, but I have to say she’s really, really good at it. In this case she was almost too good.
Jess, Bryan, Allison and Gage were all gifted in their own way. Jess was the only one of the group that wasn’t terrified by that gift. She was actually upset that it had seemed to left her. Her reasoning was grief driven, but it was real. Bryan’s gift scares him because he doesn’t really understand it and it’s physically draining to use. Allison’s has tormented her in ways that she can’t explain or escape. Gage’s gift is as scary as it is heart breaking because the one time he really wanted to use it, it failed him. The really sad part is that none of these kids really have a support system. Their parents either deny their gifts, hold them over their head or in Allison’s case, just want her gone. They’re brought together to use their gifts as one to find out the secrets of the Siler house. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that the house has it’s own agenda and it’s not a good one.
Beyond the horror, grief and pain the characters experience, the bond between them grew in the short time they were together. Granted, it wasn’t immediate, especially where Allison was concerned, but once they embraced it, there was no breaking it. Speaking of ‘bonds’ *blush* Michelle didn’t hold back in one particular scene between Gage and Jess. It was pretty much as intense as the rest of the experiences in The Haunting Season and I loved it.
For all of the above reasons, including some pretty graphic violent moments, this book is not for younger teens. The kids in this book are 17 and older and that’s about as young as the audience should be. If you like horror with a twist of psychological terror, you’ll enjoy The Haunting Season. Just a suggestion – I’d read it with the lights on and if at all possible not in an 100+ year old house. And yes, this is the voice of experience. *shivers*