By: Courtney Alameda
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
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.
I haven’t read a good YA horror or ghost story in a while, which is disappointing as its one of favorite genres. I went into Courtney Alameda’s Shutter with fingers crossed that it would be enjoyable. Not only was it enjoyable, but I was hooked and I finished the book the day I started it. The mythology behind the story was great, and I loved the idea of an international organization led by the descendants of monster hunters from classics novels.
Micheline Helsing can see the auras of the undead – she’s a tetrachromat. With the help of her team members and her camera, she is able to exorcise ghosts that are wreaking havoc amongst the living. On top of the stress that comes with being the boss’s daughter, and the public scrutiny that comes with it, Micheline is dealing with the aftermath of losing her mother and younger brother. Mixed in with her grief is the assumption, not helped by her father, that she is somehow responsible for their deaths.
The plot was appropriately fast paced and the ticking clock behind the curse on Micheline and her team was palpable. The creatures the team faced were unique and their individual mythology was well thought out. Even though breaking the curse was the main focus of the story, there was a love story subplot between Micheline and Ryder. I liked, though, that this was never a driving force behind the plot nor did it overcome it. I also felt that the romance was not rushed and that there was significant chemistry between the two characters.
My main complaint lies with several of the supporting characters. I never understood Oliver’s relationship with his girlfriend, Gemma, and how it was maintained after she spread some apparently very nasty rumors about how Micheline dealt with the aftermath of her mother’s death. Another part I had some issues with was when Bianca, a person Micheline hardly knows, lifts Micheline’s gun and points it at her in an attempt to earn her approval and permission to join the team on one of their outings. I felt it was a rather stupid move for an otherwise intelligent character, who claims to know their way around a gun, to not only lift a weapon off a person who is already on edge and has additional weapons, but she points a loaded weapon at another person (which is extremely stupid and is first things you learn not to do when handling a gun).
Overall, I found Alameda’s debut to be quite entertaining. I have yet to hear anything about a true sequel to the book, but I could see where one could be easily added and I would definitely read it.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.