Happy Tuesday dear readers!
I’ll probably be semi missing during this time, because times in the academy are becoming more and more frenetic. There’s a lot to do and the final runaway is approaching.
Anyway, here’s time for a review! I did this read with my dear Kal @Reader Voracious. You can find her review right here
Sadly, the book didn’t give much to discuss during the read but left us with a good bunch of questions. But I’ll explore the details in a bit 😉
TW: Gore, violence, death of beloved ones, abusive parent
Author: Courtney Alameda
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
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.
Shutter started reminding me of old mashup in which figures related to Bram Stoker and his characters in the novel Dracula, were all over the places. It was a time when I was very young but I was getting to see Van Helsing figure in a very nice historical punk, with monster vampires and cool weapons.
This book reminded me of those part but there was not punk genre, instead it became a horror urban fantasy.
While Shutter didn’t shine for other parts, one that was deeply good resided in the worldbuilding. At least at the start, before it got lost with the plot causing a series of huge plot holes or part that were not so well explained (and that’s where the impression of plot hole) come from.
So, the book immediately starts with action but the action is also fused to creating the world. There’s not much explanations behind the reasons why monster exist, but we can resume it with: evil exist, bad things happen and such.
The nice part was that there’s a structure to fight monsters, organized with the governments. No secret organization in sight, which was refreshing if we consider the huge number or those in urban fantasy and so, plus all the ridiculous cover ups or explanations used to cover the organization activity.
Ghosts, monsters, ghouls… there aren’t many and many types but they’re all ordered by class and level of danger, everyone has a spectral light that brand them. There are different ways to fight them, with glasses and photo cameras. Everything is very specific and well-studied, so kudos to Alameda for her world.
But… all the rest didn’t work much. One thing it really put me off in the story in the end was driven to forgive abusive figures, like Micheline’s father. Or how the most important moments, full of emotional charge, were kind of… washed away?
The book takes its time to move on and when it strikes for its end… it doesn’t reach the full potential. Neither does the plot. I would love to talk in details about why, the reason, but it would be a huge spoiler. I’ll just say that the entrance of a bigger enemy was very… not useful and resolved itself into a nothing. In fact, the end of the novel left so many things opened that it almost needed to sequel just to set down some stuff.
While I enjoyed the story for its action, world, general curiosity, the monsters and their goriness and creepiness, the characters didn’t shine to me.
Also, at a certain point during the progress of the story, some characters were totally lost and disappeared into the nothing. Or that Micheline had not a single female friendship and all the girls around her antagonized her and vice versa.
There was no chance to get affection to the other two female characters, that didn’t last long anyway, and neither I felt connection with the boys in Micheline’s crew. Especially with one, a chauvinist that every time he spoke it made me want to delete him from the story. What was their purpose? Because also, in terms of story plot, they didn’t have much layers, aside from being Micheline support. The girl’s POV really take the whole book, which was definitely good and interesting since Micheline struggle with grief and loss.
In the end, Shutter is definitely a good horror but the horror touch gets lost when the book fell into cliché related to the main villain, and didn’t add much on emotional layers when it comes to others characters aside from Micheline. Yet, if you want an action book, with monsters, ghosts, curses, action, exploration of grief and a good worldbuilding, you should give it a shot