I have not read any Halloween brand spooky books this month and I’m so disappointed in myself for that. But better late than never, I picked up The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson looking for some scares. Although I didn’t get what I was expecting at all, this is still quite a ride of a story.
The novel follows Jake, now an adult and a neurosurgeon, as he reminisces about the summer spent ghost hunting with his Uncle Calvin. His eccentric uncle takes Jake, his friend Billy, and Cal’s best friend, Lex, on several tours of the Niagara region looking for the sad, the spooky, and the haunted. But, as always, things aren’t always as they seem.
Normally I am not a fan of books that heavily mention exact locations of things. I find it takes my out of the story a lot of the time (especially in American novels) but in Canadian stories it comes across as “overly Canadian” and kind of lame. However, I am so familiar with the tourist trap strips of Niagara Falls and the neighbouring areas, that I felt comforted and at home with all the street names and locations. It made it feel like home and added to the tone and the context of the story, especially since I’ve been twelve and bored and hot and stuck in Niagara Falls on more than one summer camp trip.
Here’s where this review might get a little spoilery so stop here if I’ve already got you wanting to read the book.
Although the gang of misfits do visit one or two truly haunted locations, what they are really doing is seeing how a brain injury has effected a man who doesn’t even remember getting hurt in the first place. A la 50 First Dates, the townspeople who know what happened to Calvin pretend it never did for his own well-being and that’s what Jake is bearing witness to on that fateful summer when he was twelve.
I went into this book really hoping for ghosts and demons to fill the need of something scary in October, but what I got was a story about how people care for each other and I almost thing that’s the better way for this book to have gone. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the Strangers Things comparison being marketed in regards to Davidson’s novel, but I would completely agree with the strong Stand By Me vibes that it gives off.
A wonderful story with one of the best covers I’ve seen this year.
Happy Halloween, everyone.