Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shutter by Courtney Alameda - Ashley's Review

*I received a copy of this book as an eARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Feiwel & Friends on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Shutter
Author: Courtney Alameda
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015

Synopsis: Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline 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.


Review: I am always on the hunt for a good horror book. Paranormal books are usually either hit or miss for me, but if it's a horror book and not a romance, I'll definitely give it a try. Courtney Alameda's Shutter is actually some of both, although definitely more horror than romance, and I loved pretty much every minute of it! 

One of my favorite things in any sort of book is when there's a little bit of history or mythology tucked in around the main story. In this case, we have the Van Helsing lineage. The Helsings have built an empire on hunting ghosts, ghouls, and other sorts of undead creatures, and are known far and wide. I loved that little bit of a connection to the real world, because it made everything that happens in Shutter seem like something that could possibly actually happen. I mean, I know there aren't ghosts and undead monsters roaming around (at least I hope not...), but Alameda did such a good job constructing a world where all of that felt so real that it seemed like they've always been real in our world too. 

And speaking of those monsters, Alameda's descriptions of them are just absolutely terrifying. I made the mistake of reading this book at night, and spent the next week wishing I had read it in the middle of the day. I could never go into something like Micheline and her crew, hunting the monsters they do. Corporeal or spiritual, those are things I would never want to run across. The deaths and corpses are all described in gruesome detail, and even though it was kind of gross, I think it added so much to my understanding of the world Micheline lives in and the monsters she deals with. 

Micheline is a really fantastic heroine. She is strong-willed and independant, a natural leader, but she still relies heavily on her friends. She makes some poor choices, but Jude, Ryder, and Oliver all have her back and help to protect her. Even dealing with the soulchain, they never really give up on finding a way out of it or on each other. Jude was probably my favorite - he's hilarious and you could pretty much always count on him to break up a serious moment with some ridiculous or sarcastic comment. But I also really loved Ryder and his relationship with Micheline. There's definitely a romance brewing there, but it's not overwhelming and doesn't take over the main story. It's just nice to see things play out the way they do. 

There's also quite a bit of science in this book - ghosts and the tech Micheline uses are explained using energies and the like, and how the quartz-lens even works, and so many other things that add a whole extra dimension to the whole paranormal aspect. Overall, this was just a really fantastic, well-written book that has likeable characters, terrifying monsters, and some of the best world-building I've ever seen in a horror book. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of the Anna Dressed in Blood series. 5/5!


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