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The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson #BookReview

A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of “Stranger Things” and “Stand by Me” about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls–a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place–Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the “Saturday Night Ghost Club.” But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.

Title: The Saturday Night Ghost Club | Author: Craig Davidson | Publisher: Knopf Canada | Pub. Date: 14 August 2018 | Pages: 253 | ISBN: 9780735274822 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Spousal death | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased

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The Saturday Night Ghost Club Review

The Saturday Night Ghost Club was not quite what I was expecting, but I think in this case that definitely worked in its favour. I saw a few comparisons to King and McCammon, and while I can see the obvious links to classic coming-of-age horror, this book is entirely its own thing.

This novel is very much horror lite. If you’re going in as a Nick Cutter (Davidson’s alter ego) fan, it’s probably best to adjust expectations before starting. This book is light on the horror, but so, so heavy on the emotions. Davidson’s writing is incredibly raw and authentic, and it made all of the relationships in the novel feel very real to me. I tend to not be a huge fan of coming-of-age novels in general. It’s hard to strike a balance where the characters feel believable – often I find them to be either too naïve, painted through an adult lens, or else they feel unrealistically grown up and in some cases (looking at you, Mr. King) grossly sexualized. This novel gets it all the way right. I absolutely loved how the friendships between Jake, Billy, and Dove were handled. They felt so genuine that it honestly gave me a little bit of nostalgia for those days when friendships formed so easily and crushes were so innocent but real. The emotion that this book manages to pack into its short length is staggering, and I may have had to put the book down for a second to have a bit of a cry at one point.

I’ve been trying to make an effort this year to read more Canadian genre fiction, and it makes my heart happy when I get a book by a Canadian author that just FEELS Canadian. The setting of this book, Niagara Falls, is so integral to the story that it almost becomes a character in itself. The descriptions of places I’ve visited, the local legends, the very essence of the city are steeped into every page and it really added to the nostalgia for me. But at the same time, Davidson manages to capture scenes and experiences that are universal, so that this book could have been set anywhere and would have evoked those same feelings.

This was the perfect book for a quick last-hurrah-of-summer read. It has the spooky vibe of a ghost story told around a campfire, and an incredible cast of characters all with deeply human and poignant stories to tell. Absolutely recommend this novel!

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews

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