Shame Book Review: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

March 19, 2018 Book Reviews 4

I received this book for free from AudioBook Reviewer in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shame Book Review: Shutter by Courtney AlamedaShutter by Courtney Alameda
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 3rd 2015
Pages: 384
Source: AudioBook Reviewer
One StarOne StarOne Star

Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

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.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week. 

Reading Challenges: Blogger Shame, Mt. TBR


Oh, this so belongs in the Shame category! I am seriously hanging my head for this one.

Have you ever promised a review to someone, especially someone that you work with, and then just kind of forget to review those books? I’ve had this book since sometime in 2016. I have to say, normally I am on the ball when it comes to reading for tours and such, but I completely dropped that ball with three books. This is the first of those three.

Micheline and her team are a group of ghost hunters. They have been trained since they were young teens, to attack and remove paranormal entities. At the beginning of the story Micheline decides to dive in and catch this new ghost on her own. The idea is there, she doesn’t want it killing anymore, but the technique is not. She rushes in purposefully, knowing full well she’s leaving her team behind, even though they’ve been trained to do the opposite. It’s frustrating because when it goes wrong she blames herself and starts whining about it.

I think one reason this one is so late, is because the narrator sounded whiny as well. I wound up purchasing the book through Amazon so I did not have to hear the narration. The problem with that was the fact that the main character was whiny, not the narrator. The first portion of the book was extremely difficult to get through. Every time she whined about something else, I just wanted to close my Kindle! It drove me crazy. Especially since it was all her own doing.

Admittedly, the girl is going through a lot but in the first few pages I didn’t know that. Still, it drove me nuts just trying to get past her constant worry. Much like Bella Swan. It’s a weird comparison, but this is exactly how Micheline Helsing acts in the first few chapters. If this were just Kindle Unlimited, and not something for another website, I probably would have put off reading it even longer!

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, but I wasn’t sure if I apologized for the soulchains or for the lines drawn between us. Ryder answered with a look – I expected it to ache, but the worry in his eyes drowned me instead. He touched the corner of my mouth with his thumb. His lips parted, and I hoped for words that could put the breath back in me. It’s going to be okay. I needed to hear it, if only from him.

This is page 60. Ok, again, Micheline is going through quite a bit, and the backstory is starting to come out, although it’s slow. I think the second biggest reason the first part failed, for me, is that there is a lot of explanation about how to capture these entity’s. Too much information. Later in the book Micheline has a succinct explanation that was much better, easier to understand, and easier to read than the first half of the book.

That said, once I got to Night two, I started getting more interested. There are still some cliche moments, like all the times she says

Desperate times, desperate measures

People, please stop using this line! It is over rated. It drives me nuts. The explanation of the desperation should be the story itself, not in a one liner. There again, getting better though. Micheline is starting to come into her own and is willing to risk her own skin to save her friends. This is where her strength really shows. It takes nearly half the book to get there, but once she does, not only is the plot getting better, but her characterization, and the girl I thought was in there, is surfacing. She is kick ass. Still vulnerable, like all characters are to a point, but not so vulnerable that she’s going around whining about it, even when it is completely acceptable to do so!

The other characters had decent characterization but the blended too easily together. I needed something a bit more to make their voices shine. There are four guys on her main team and they are all contaminated with this soulchain. I would imagine they would all react differently, but for the most part, they blindly follow Micheline. They are also sort of ordered to do so, but still, having a chain of command does not mean you cannot fully voice your opinion on how screwed up a situation is. I think having their voices heard, even a little bit more, would have gone a long way into creating a memory of these guys and what they would do for Micheline.

What I loved was as Micheline digs deeper into this mystery ghost, Courtney Alameda’s imagination shines! The horrorific portions of this, and what Micheline’s team is up against, is fantastically imaginative and on the edge of horror. Much like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. It’s unique in the ability of catching the ghosts, but also in the ghosts themselves. They come up with a myriad of ways to freak the team out, and in turn will freak out many readers!

As a lover of horror, this doesn’t quite hit the horrific mark as much as I would like, but I had some moments where I was cheering. Not only for Micheline but also just for the imagination of all of this.

In short: I’m glad I finally got to this. It was an interesting story. A bit long winded at points, but that is before it really gets going. Once it does, it’s a great ride!


Rating Report
3 / 5
Character Development
3 / 5
Writing Style
3 / 5
Personal enjoyment
3 / 5
5 / 5
Overall: 3.4 / 5


A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

One StarOne StarOne Star

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

4 Responses to “Shame Book Review: Shutter by Courtney Alameda”

  1. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I’ve heard some good things about this book but like you, don’t think I could deal with a whiny narrator. I don’t do well with whiners in general 🙂 I just grabbed Pitch Black, which is the this author’s latest book. I hope to read them both eventually.

    • Christina

      It wound up being good, so I’m glad I finally stuck with it. But ugh. That character. The poor narrator didn’t have much to work with!

  2. chucklesthescot

    I must admit that I never missed a book review deadline. As soon as I receive a review book it’s next on the reading list, though I don’t review many for authors at the moment!

    • Christina

      That’s the problem with this one, it didn’t really have a deadline. Just read whenever I got the chance. Yeah, right! I won’t talk about my Netgalley though. Oh, the missed deadlines there! Keep up that fabulous work. I am working on not missing any deadlines.

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