Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: Shutter

Title: Shutter
Author: Courtney Alameda
Series: Standalone
Released: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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.

I remember starting Shutter with a certain amount of skepticism, cynical soul that I am. In my own defense, good YA horrors are few and far between – mostly they’re just creepy enough to justify the label and not a bit more. But Courtney Alameda proved me wrong in no time at all. By page 30, I was gripping my poor Kindle tightly, disgusted, terrified and oddly thrilled all at the same time. In all honesty, I haven’t read a YA horror so scary and exciting since The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman.

Shutter is exactly what I want all my YA books to be: exciting, different and most importantly, romantic. It has all the right ingredients, but they’re put together in an entirely new way which makes it one of the best books I’ve read in a good long while. Alameda combined (mostly) excellent characterization with an incredible sense of pacing to give us a truly memorable read.

The basis of Alameda’s worldbuilding is a biological rarity – tetrachromacy – to which she gave paranormal properties. Micheline Helsing, descendant of the Van Helsing, is a tetrachromat, which allows her to see and classify ghosts better than anyone else. Her family has always fought against the dead and Micheline carried on the tradition and obligation even after losing half her family to ghosts. She and her father are the only remaining members of the Helsing family and they are both members of the Helsing Corps, an agency that defends the cities from the supernatural.

For the most part, Alameda’s characterization is superb. Micheline and her crew are excellently developed, each with a very distinct personality. Their group dynamic is also very interesting, as is Micheline’s relationship with Ryder. However, Micheline’s relationship with her father was somewhat exaggerated and his complete blindness to her needs seemed entirely too unrealistic. As the main antagonist of the story, at least emotionally, Micheline’s father came across as completely self-absorbed, utterly mean and perhaps even two-dimensional. His character brought a very strong emotional layer, but didn’t otherwise contribute.

One minor thing aside, Shutter was practically flawless. The entire experience was reminiscent of Anna Dressed in Blood – the surprise, the horror, the excellent writing, and the creepiness of the story, which happens to be Alameda’s special talent.

Shutter seems to be a standalone, which I usually support, but in this case I feel that there’s room for more and I hope she’ll decide to go back to these characters. The sooner the better.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I adored this too, easily one of my favorite YA books of the year. Almost every review I've read has mentioned that they hope Courtney turns this into a series, so I hope she's listening!

  2. I keep looking at this one, wanting it yet hesitant to spend the money. Then I read awesome reviews like yours! I'm done waiting and thinking about it. Heading over to get it now!

  3. I have this on my TBR! This review has made me even more eager to get to it.Thanks for sharing!

  4. I adored Shutter too and I wasn't expecting to either! I loved the world building and history about the Helsings and the entire crew!
    And like you Maja, I am truly hoping that Courtney will write a sequel, and she said it's not out of the picture, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

  5. I have seen some stellar reviews of this around, so shame on me that I haven't picked it up yet. I will remedy this soon. I love different in the young-adult landscape :) And if it makes me grip my Kindle for dear life by page 30, that much better! Brilliant review.

  6. I don't read enough YA Horror or none at all really. I don't think ive had a book that has really ever made me grip me book or kindle with anti caption and fear. This sounds so intriguing and captivating. I need something like this. Great review, Maja!

  7. I've heard good and bad about this one. One of these days I'll pick it up off my shelf.

  8. Okay I definitely need to pick up a copy of this. So many people have loved it and I am so in the mood for something different and scary!
    Great review Maja!

  9. I do NOT do scary so this isn't for me. But that's amazing that you found a YA horror that really did a good job at freaking you out!

  10. ... but... but that is why I like YA horror. So a wimp like me can handle it. :) I've been dealing better with reading horror so I might have to try this one. Oh and what I like about a standalone is that is can become a series if warranted. So perhaps if the author wills it... :D

  11. I didn't expect romantic to be a word associated with this book, but I'll bite. I'm also looking for a fantastic YA horror read, so I'm glad this one fits the bill. :) Great review, Maja!

  12. I loved this book, but I also felt like it could have been more than a stand-alone. Even a Novella to help with that ending would be great!


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