BOOK REVIEW – Shutter by Courtney AlamedaShutter by Courtney Alameda
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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. 


Trust me, I would have loved for my first book in 2016 to be a winner… Sadly it wasn’t, and I never managed to enjoy Shutter, mostly because *whispers* I was drawn into the 4 levels of dooooom (no, it’s not really a thing, I do know that, shhh)

How much as I wanted to like it, from the start I felt that something was off with the writing. Perhaps because whole pages read like textbooks.

Welcome to REAPER 101!

”High-powered quartz lenses allowed me to capture light effectively, as quartz conducted a ghost’s electricity and had a high sensivity to fast-moving violet light. Most ghosts succumbed in a few photographs, their energy whittled down shot by shot and sealed into film’s silver halide trap.
Helsing Research and Development optimized my flashes to slam ghosts with flares of ionized light, which broke down the electrons in the air and turned my camera into a lightning rod for ghostly energy. Lastly, my monopod steadied my had and became a melee weapon in a pinch –“

… And so on. Can I mention that she is stalking a ghost at this point? All these scientific speeches were so freaking specific that they made me lose sight of what was important: the PLOT, and urged me to get my hands on a thesaurus.

Not to mention that this wordy and over specific writing emphasizes the lack of dialogues and their fakeness when the characters finally decide to talk together. I mean, who in the word uses a word like unpalatable in a conversation? At 16? One might argue that they aren’t our usual teenagers, and I sure can’t deny that. Yet it bothered me, because in my opinion the (relative) lack of dialogues always weakens the characters dynamics.

More I read and more I realize that I have personal peeves that can completely spoil my reading experience. An invasion of metaphors is one of them, and it doesn’t mean that Courtney Alameda’s writing isn’t good, because I’m sure some readers will read the quotes below and love them. I’m not one of those readers.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the occasional metaphor but GOD they were EVERYWHERE.

The writing didn’t flow, and some sentences let me frowning at my book helplessly :

“Anger rasped in the squared breaths he took, the ones for shooting and fighting and not losing your head; it deepened the shadows under his eyes and throbbed in his jugular”


“Large sprinklers dotted the ceiling like daisies with razor-sharp petals, the same apparatuses I’d seen on the ceilings of Seward Memorial’s Ninth Circle. Those devices sprouted nerve gas in case the necros escaped their pens… but why would they be needed in an evacuation tunnel?”

I don’t know. You lost me at petals. Then at apparatuses (really?).

Definitely too much purple prose for me to enjoy reading.

Ah, Micheline. Micheline Micheline Micheline. I don’t hate you, but it’s allllll about you now isn’t it? Indeed I had a hard time standing how self-absorbed she was. Her safety. The future. The boys’ safety. Her fault, her problems, her her her. For a girl who’s supposed to be badass, she spends loads of time whining. Her friend Oliver shares a great relationship with his father? So unfair, given that hers is an abusive asshole. She drowns in guilt every time a member of her team is injured? It doesn’t prevent her from lying to them and hiding important information about their enemies.

I’ll pass over the fact that she sees every other woman as weak (and Jude’s comments about punching like a girl serve her well) or as a sexual distraction for her precious boys (god forbid the guys develop feelings – I really liked the fact that Bianca resisted and surprised her, by the way) but did she need to dismiss everything that didn’t involve fighting kills? Medics are useful too, you know.

Sorry guys, it does seem as if I hated her, yet I really didn’t – she annoyed me more than everything else, but I can’t deny that she was brave and strong-minded. Her inner pep-talk and other self-absorbed monologues just gritted my nerves, I presume.

As for the other characters, I won’t lie and hide the fact that Ryden made my heart beat faster in the beginning. Loyal, protective, not an asshole, what more could one want in a love interest?

His own personality, perhaps? Given the fact that the guy doesn’t talk (I kid, I kid…almost), more I read and more blurred he became : yes, he loves Micheline (this is obvious from the start), yet what does he like doing in his spare time? What does he think of all these events? What does he freaking do except acting like a bodyguard for Micheline? His whole characterization is centered on his relationship with her and in the end I feel as if I don’t know him. He has no layers. The only things I know about him are,
1) He loves rules and Micheline.
2) He was adopted (sort of) by Micheline’s father for training.
3) He thinks Jude is gross with his dating. Oh, that, he has a strong opinion about how his friend should live his sex life, that he does. *roll eyes*

You sense my frustration? You’re freaking right. And don’t get me started about her father. *slaps the asshole*

Shutter is by no means a bad book, though. Indeed I found the plot really interesting and most of my frustration lay in the fact that I wanted to know what would happen but couldn’t handle the writing and the characters. Courtney Alamedaa manages to successfully mix classic horror tropes and her take on the Helsing/Dracula myth was really well-done. Trust me, it’s rare that I find myself captivated by a plot when a book isn’t working for me, that’s why I couldn’t rate Shutter lower . If it wasn’t for the info-dumping, the metaphors and the stiff writing, I’m pretty sure that I would have overlooked my annoyance with the characters.

Sadly I was disappointed in the climax which didn’t live up to the expectations carefully built in spite of my other peeves. I would love to state that Shutter was unpredictable, but unfortunately if it was in the beginning, it didn’t last. Yes, it was well-wrapped, but not surprising at all and quite the easy road.

► Oh well. My first book in 2016 has come and gone. Still 250 books in my kindle waiting for me to read them (no, I feel no fear *high-pitched voice* At all)

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