3rd March, 2020

Review: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson (Penguin)

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 lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined.

I started this book with certain assumptions and ended up getting something quite different. From the plot synopsis I had expected certain Stand By Me meets Stranger Things vibes, and was a bit surprised when the story went in a somewhat other direction. 

Essentially, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a tale of friendship and the vivid imagination of children. When Uncle Calvin tells Jake and his friends horrid tales of murder and mayhem, the chilly excitement and fear in the kids becomes more than palpable. This is an element I thoroughly enjoyed as it brought with ittons of warm fuzzy feelings. If you are (like me) a kid of the 80s, you will find yourself in this little book over and over again. Staying out till the streetlamps came on? Riding your bike anywhere and everywhere without anybody caring much? Finding secret hideaways in places that would nowadays be deemed too dangerous? This is exactly the atmosphere Davidson's novel depicts, and it is glorious! 

What I didn't expect when I picked up the book where the scenes in the present in which Jake details some of his experiences as a brain surgeon. And it was one of these passages that actually brought me to tears for the first time while reading the story. I cried a few more times but there is that one case of a little girl that simply broke my heart.  

It is hard to describe the book in detail without giving too much away, but it is a wonderfully whimsical read that may bring back fond memories but that will also make you think about life, choices, the different kinds of trauma that everyone experiences at some point and our individual reactions to these. The book can be read in one sitting with its 200 pages (maybe on a Saturday night?) and it will give you both goosebumps and a warm feeling of nostalgia.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

© Copyright The Constant Reader

All texts and photographs are mine, unless indicated otherwise.