Ahoy there me mateys! For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. So today I bring ye a historical fiction.
So ummm this book was nothing like I imagined it would be from either the cover or the blurb. Here be the cover:
The blurb states that this is a coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Niagara Falls. A young boy, Jake Baker (age 12), and his new friends participate in his Uncle Calvin’s “Saturday Night Ghost Club” where they go around town exploring local spooky legends. However the summer brings real truths to light. It also deals with “haunting mutability of memory and storytelling.”
And aye, this is certainly a coming-of-age tale but it is such a sad one in the scheme of things. There be many good things here. I loved Jake and his newfound friendships. I loved the idea of finally getting back at bullies. I love that Jake has lovely caring parents. I love Uncle Calvin’s odd duck ways. I love Jake’s viewpoints of Dove. I love the betamax store owner, Lex. The writing itself is absolutely excellent and it is what kept me reading because I wanted to know the resolution of the story.
Really me problem with it stems from the expectations that it would be light-hearted and poignant in the missing of a bygone summer. There were those elements there for sure but lots of darkness too. I should have known given that the first chapter is about brain surgery. It did throw me and I almost didn’t read the book. But the next chapter started in the vein that I thought the whole book would be like.
This did not turn into the happy Halloween read I originally wanted (and kinda still do). Instead it was a beautiful look at family tragedies, love, friendship, how experiences shape future identity, and aye, memory. It really does showcase the end of boyhood and the entrance into the beginnings of being an adult. It ends on a hopeful note but the sadness underneath still peaks through. I can’t say that I loved this book. I can say that I am very glad I read it and that me heart is always going to feel a bit bruised whenever I think on this book. Arrrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
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 light-hearted 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 is a note-perfect novel that poignantly examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become, and establishes Craig Davidson as a remarkable literary talent.
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