Author: Courtney Alameda
Genres [according to Goodreads]:
Fiction > Young Adult
Fantasy> Paranormal > Ghosts
Fantasy> Paranormal > Vampires
Published/Publisher: February 3rd 2015/Feiwel & Friends
Format Read In: eBook
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
My Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]:
“Helsing didn’t lose to the dead. I’d never botched an exorcism. The cross might be inked under my skin, but I had the family name stamped on my soul. In my failure to stop the entity, I’d put the city at risk and let everyone down: my crew, the corps, the victims, the survivors. My family, my father.” – Micheline Helsing; Shutter, C. Alameda
What I Liked
Wow! What a book! Exciting roller coaster from start to finish. Excellent pacing, with enough momentum to keep me interested. Excellent diction, too. I feel like my vocabulary has greatly increased after reading all the wonderful descriptions of settings and scenes. Everything is so well written and easy to follow, even during action shots, and the descriptions of the wounds inflicted on the characters feels so real. Not to mention the description of the hideous monsters! Honestly, it’s the stuff of nightmares and that’s PERFECT. The use of camera shutters to capture ghostlight was very clever (though it definitely had me googling camera parts and what happens when a picture is taken)!
I also enjoyed the characters a lot. For me, the strength of a novel comes from the strength of it’s characters and how well the author can make me care about them. And I found myself caring a lot for Micheline and her boys (my heart stopped when they went looking for Oliver and found him possessed). It was really heart-wrenching to hear about her past and how it had effected her and her father, and it was nice to see some focus on the strong platonic love she had for Oliver and Jude and not just on her romantic feelings with Ryder as well as, of course, her familial love for her brothers and mother. I like seeing the day saved through matters other than ‘true love’.
It was interesting to see the protagonists fail so much during a novel, when authors tend to have them fail once, spectacularly, before having them win, but it isn’t until the last part of the book that Micheline even makes the right choice, which is a great way of keeping me on the edge of my seat.
The ending was really great, too! Having Micheline’s beloved mother be the weapon for the main villain, and a terrifyingly real weapon at that, was pretty nerve-wrecking to me, with the previous chapters filled with loving memories of their time together when her mother, and brothers, was alive. Way to play with my emotions, Alameda! And I really liked Luca’s handmaidens; not quite sure why though (maybe ’cause they reminded me of the nurses from Silent Hill???).
The world-building was great and very intricate without loading up so many details. At times I was quite lost when the different entities and technologies were explained, but I could appreciate the complexity of the world of Helsing Corps nonetheless. I haven’t read Dracula (it’s on my list) but I am a sucker for the tellings of the descendants of the legendary vampire hunter, so that definitely kept my attention, especially when we also get to focus on the descendants of the Harker’s and Stoker (I really liked the concept of Stoker not only being the author but also being a member of Helsing’s original troupe).
What I Didn’t Like
I’m about to start nitpicking, folks. Not a huge fan of the “badass gunslinger girl hates girly things and criticizes/is baffled by said girly things” trope because it’s rather boring, though it’s at least not riddled across the book. Then again, not many named female characters to begin with, who actually engage in the action, for Micheline to huff at. Didn’t totally care about the romance or how ~forbidden~ it was. Also, getting real tired of PoC being called exotic and compared to food, and of white characters wishing they had the ~pretty~ features of their PoC companions; unfortunately, diversity in the books lacks substantially (only two are named: Ryder and Bianca). It doesn’t appear anyone is LGBT+ either, or diverts away from The Usual features.
What I Hope to See in the Coming Books in the Series
I’m not sure if there will be a sequel though it’s been hinted in the book, but if there is one, I’d like to see more of Bianca (who is effortlessly set up to be a strong and intelligent fighter in the short slips of her we see) and her relationship with Jude (it’s becoming a thing of mine to adore side pairings rather than the main pairings, which is introducing me to a world of pain). I hope we get to see more of the world outside of America and what the other sections are like, and we get to know more about the Drakes. Of course, more diversity wouldn’t hurt, and learning more about Luca, where he came from, if he’s really Dracula and more about this Draconic cult.