Review: The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

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.

Title: The Haunting Season
Author: Michelle Muto
Publication date: December 21, 2012

Jess, Allison, Gage, and Bryan have signed up to be part of a research study on the paranormal. Each of them has a special gift related to the subject and each of them is there for a different reason. Jess, the main character, is naive about ghosts, thinking that all of them are good. Has she never seen a ghost hunting show? You would think that for someone so interested in the subject, she would seek out all the information she could find. Her main ghost has been her grandmother, but since her father died about a year ago she hasn’t seen any ghosts at all. Jess wants desperately to see ghosts again, especially her father.

Allison, on the other hand, has only experienced demons, so she thinks all ghosts are bad. Allison is weird, but anyone who has been possessed by a demon probably would seem a little weird. She really, really, doesn’t want to be at Siler House but she doesn’t have a choice. Her family has sent her there and doesn’t want her back. She doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

I had a little trouble keeping Gage and Bryan straight and I’m still not sure which gift each of them had. I didn’t care enough about either of them to try to remember it. The final inhabitants of the house — the living ones, anyway — are Dr. Brandt and Mrs. Hirsch. Brandt is the researcher who becomes increasingly more disturbed as their stay goes on, and Mrs. Hirsch is the sullen housekeeper. Actually, I’m not sure what her reason for being there is. There are maids that came in to do the actual cleaning. Her main role seems to be skulking about the house, clutching her pendant, and being disapproving of pretty much everything involving the group.

Siler House is creepy, something Jess notices on arrival. It feels like the house is watching her, but Jess is too excited about the research study to pay much attention to that. Allison is much more creeped out and much more worried. It’s not long before Jess meets two ghosts, twin girls who died at the house a hundred years earlier and are buried in the yard.

There’s another, too: Riley. Riley is, according to Allison, a demon. He inhabits, for lack of a better word, the mirrors in Siler House and he can travel from mirror to mirror, which is pretty creepy! They end up covering up all the mirrors just to prevent him from spying on them and to avoid having to see him.

There’s a bit of romance that I could have done without because I didn’t feel like it was very believable. Maybe that’s related to my lack of interest in the male half of the couple. The single love scene veers towards new adult territory (and the characters are high school graduates/college students) but the rest of the book seems solidly YA. When I think of NA, I think of romance being the main plot and that isn’t the case with The Haunting Season.

As Allison has predicted, the house starts to get to everyone, especially Dr. Brandt, ending in a terrifying night with the group trying to escape and being prevented from doing so. The ending disappointed me a bit, not the climax of the ghostly business but the aftermath that wraps everything up. It’s not a bad outcome, but it’s not the one I would have chosen.

The Haunting Season has been on my radar for several years and I’m glad I finally made it a priority to read it. I didn’t love it they way I hoped, but it was entertaining. There were parts I wanted to be fleshed out more (ghost hunting) and parts I wanted less of (romance, Mrs. Hirsch).

3 1/2 stars