Book Review: The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

16141351Title: The Haunting Season

Author: Michelle Muto

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4,5 stars

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Be careful what you let in…

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.

The Haunting Season is the second book I’ve read by Michelle Muto. I really enjoyed the first book, Don’t Fear The Reaper, so I was eager to start reading this one. It’s not in the same series – The Haunting Season is a stand-alone.

The plot is original, even though it vaguely reminded me of The Haunting. A bunch of teenagers are chosen as test subjects to live in a supposed haunted mansion for a month. In The Haunting, the premise was the same, but the execution is very different. Here we have teenagers, two boys and two girls, and each come with their unique sets of gifts. Now these gifts bothered me. I know it brought them together, but the ‘gifts’ in some cases weren’t gifts at all. Main character Jess can talk to ghosts. Or at least she could, before her Dad passed away. She’s desperate to talk to his ghost, but her gift fails her.

Allison was once possessed by a demon and she’s frightened to let the demons in for another round. She was, by far, my favorite character. I wouldn’t have minded if the book was entirely about her, and Jess was a secondary character instead. Allison was, naturally, frightened at first, as she’s the only one who senses the truth about Siler House from the get-go. The others think she’s losing it, and Jess even gets angry at her once or twice, while I kept having this nagging feeling Allison was right and the rest of them were all big, BIG, fools. I didn’t like the way Jess treated Allison. Admittedly, she acts a little weird and probably a little creepy, but Jess was prone to overreacting and jumping to conclusions about her roommate.

The two boys are mostly meh. Gage can raise the dead. Or at least, he could raise his brother’s dog from the dead, but he hasn’t been able to use his ability ever since. It didn’t work on his brother, and his parents will always blame him for that. The background story was interesting enough, but his character fell a little flat for me. Both boys did. They’re both interested in Jess because she looks ‘hot’ but never go beyond that. Bryan, the other guy, is convinced Gage will get her in the end because he looks better than Bryan does. All right, well, what’s with all the superficialness? I know teenage boys may tend to be a bit superficial, but I doubt that’s all there is about them. I enjoyed Gage as a seperate character, but not in a relationship with Jess. In my opinion, it didn’t work. Even Bryan would’ve been a better chocie. He seemed to fit better with her. Bryan can make things vanish. Once, he made his Dad disappear.

While all characters have a background story defining them, and each had a distinct personality, I had trouble understanding some of their decisions. What I thought was great though was how Siler House had a personality of its own as well. The house was foreboding and threatening, even if the characters couldn’t see it, and it was a great example of a haunted house.

I thought the story itself was great. It was scary, but not too scary because the group isn’t exactly defenseless against the ghosts. It did build up a bit fast though. It went from glimpse of a ghost to full-out scarefest. I like slower build ups in haunted house stories, but here it worked.

I wouldn’t mind reading a prequel for this book, detailing Allison’s struggle with the demons. (Please, please, please?) I really liked her, and she was, in my opinion, the most interesting character.

That said, there aren’t so many well-written haunted house stories for young adults out there. The Haunting Season is a great choice if you’re looking for a book in that genre, but also if you’re more into general paranormal thrillers, the book is an excellent read. I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to more books by the author.

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