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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. 

384 pages, Hardcover

First published February 3, 2015

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About the author

Courtney Alameda

14 books592 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 753 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,470 reviews9,633 followers
June 10, 2017
Well that was a nice little creeptastic ride =)

I mean, it's not a really huge horror book but it's a nice scary book!

Micheline Helsing, Oliver Stoker, < --- yes, part of the families and Ryder and Jude are a part of The Helsing Corps.

They got a call there was some cray going on over at the hospital and no one else could get there for an hour. Soooooooooooooooo, Micheline takes matters into her own hands and has her and the team show up. They are not supposed to just do stuff like that unless told and yeah, she got reamed by her dad. And it turns out some funky ghost, evil thing puts a curse on her and the gang. I keep saying gang and now I want to watch Scooby-Doo, but I digress.

Anyway, said ghost doesn't go quietly into the night when zapped with the special camera. Nope, it puts a curse on them all and they have so many days to break the curse or dieeeeeeeeeeee!

I love scary stories and thought this was great with the spin from the Helsing and Stoker parts along with a few others you can read about yourself.

Oh and lord, I don't want to look at mirrors anymore. They always creep me out anyway from all of the scary movies. Lol

As usual, there are some revelations and a good ole fight and some sad stuff thrown in too.

I think fans of horror will like this book. If your into major gore and hardcore horror, it's probably not for you =) Happy Reading!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
841 reviews3,774 followers
February 15, 2021

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" THE FUCK?

"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)

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,115 followers
November 11, 2014

The Helsing Corps only showed up when someone didn't stay dead.

Do you hear that? Those are the sounds of my tears dropping, because shit just got serious, and I am overwhelmed with emotions over the fact that YA does know how to write a horror-filled, action-packed book. I nearly gave up! Hallelujah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

If you liked Fatal Frame, you would like this. Even though I only played 15 minutes of that game, it was enough to permanently scar my brain for the rest of my life. Everything was going so well with the slow prologue, and then a ghost appeared from out of nowhere and I threw my Playstation controller at the TV and ran out of the room like shrieking like a baby (I am not kidding. My little brother can attest to this...). While this book may not have been as scary as that (intense, more like) it has ghosts and scenes that would likely give you goosebumps all the same. Ghosts here mean business. And by business, I mean gouged eyes... dismembered hands... torn and scattered teeth... y'know, the usual shady stuff.

Don't you just wish we can go back to that time when ghosts were only good for peek-a-boos? Childhood, where hath thou gone?

The best part of this book is that everything makes sense. It is grounded in logic and science - how ghosts appear, what they are made of, the process of defeating them, how necros (or zombie-ish thingies?) are made, what the virus is capable of - and everything is just so interesting. I appreciated even more the fact that it isn't dependent on science - even faith is capable of exorcising them, which is such a breath of fresh air because for me, sometimes a collective belief in something can work wonders. If enough people can deem something as "holy", maybe that gives it some sort of power, too, simply just from the hearts of the masses? It makes the world-building so much more complex and gives it a lot of depth, because the possibilities are just endless. 

One thing that makes it a lot similar to Fatal Frame is the MC's way of defeating ghosts, which is trapping its ghostlight in a physical container, in this case, a roll film in a camera. The game series, Fatal Frame, uses the same method with its Camera Obscura - a couple of shots, the clearer the better, and the ghost is defeated (which means you don't only not evade them, you have to face them head-on, too... now you know why I couldn't play the game). At first, I was a bit conflicted because the method was basically the same, but the experience is way different when you read about it in books, so it didn't bug me as much I thought it would.

If you liked Parasite Eve, you would like this. If you are familiar with this game, then you should be able to recognise Aya from below. She's a calculating, strong-willed heroine from the police force who finds herself dealing and killing mutated humans and creatures. She stops at nothing and is afraid of nothing.

Now let's go back to Shutter. Meet Micheline, our bad-ass, no-nonsense, calculating heroine. Be it ghosts or necros or human scorpions, she'll be facing them head-on because she knows what is at stake and there is no other way to go about it. She puts her life in her own hands and refuses to let others shape it for her - that is how determined, stubborn, and strong-willed she is. She protects her friends and family, and even fights them in order to save them. And she is as human as you and me, because she makes mistakes, she can be vulnerable, and she loses, too. And that makes her such an endearing character. Meeting and reading about her made me remember Aya from Parasite Eve.

I absolutely loved this girl. She is as real as real can get. It's like I see her as the best version of anyone - still full of flaws, but can gather bouts of courage when the situation calls for it. I loved how during her times of weaknesses, she doesn't go too angsty. Yes, she mourns and grieves, but she tries so hard despite everything, and that's something I'd like to emulate. And besides, how often do we see kick-ass heroines who stay kick-ass?

If you liked Left 4 Dead, you would like this, too. One of the best thing about that game is its intensity. There's nothing else that can get your heart pumping than walking silently down a road, only to trigger a car alarm, and have a HORDE of flesh-eating zombies running to get a bite of your blood-filled throat. Me and my mates would be scared out of our wits and would go shouting over our mics, "Do you hear that?! Those are the groans of death! HURRY UP AND RUN, IDIOT!"

If it's action you are looking for, you need not look far, because Shutter is absolutely full of it - lots of fight scenes that are easy to visualize and are not repetitive, and a lot of non-fight scenes that are equally intense. Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a movie because it kinda has the formula down pat. There was this scene that was already said in the blurb, so I knew it was coming, but when I read it in the book, it still felt like I read it blind because good lord, my heart was seriously beating so fast. Not only is the author capable of evoking strong emotional feelings from the reader, she also knows how to make them excited, too.

And come on, our mates here got chased by necros, and they had to fight their way to the top floor of a building from the basement while still kicking necro ass along the way. EPIC BOOK IS EPIC.

As for the romance...

See, we have ONE heroine who is surrounded by three guys. Usually, you see this premise and slowly turn your head away in second-hand embarrassment because you instantly expect it would be filled with cheesy drama and flirting and fighting for the girl. I mean, come on! ONE GIRL. THREE GUYS. What else could it mean?

But this book managed to surprise me. Thirty pages in, and no cheesy flirting, eyebrow wiggling, or any "How are ye, snoogum woogums?" that happened. Sixty pages in, we get hints from the heroine and one of the guys. A forbidden romance that is showcased in a very meaningful and subtle way. They have a lot of scenes together, but most of it are related to the plot, and when they let a bit of their guard down, we get teased a lot and you end up yearning for more. It's not overwhelming at all, and not underwhelming, either, because every gesture they do has meaning and thought behind them which makes everything just so bloody worth it.

Even better? The camaraderie they have with each other. They share a connection so strong that it just shows within the pages. I loved how they can communicate with a few words or with a few gestures and get things done. I loved the lengths they would go for each other if one's life is in danger. I loved how they can talk and joke with each other with no malice (no "What did he mean by that? Did he like me? Do I like him? But what about this guy?" ISN'T THAT AWESOME?!)... just casual, innocent banter among friends who will support each other come low or high water.

All in all? This is one book that is not to be missed. It's scary, it's intense, and it's endearing all at the same time, a combination of awesome factors you don't really see much nowadays especially in this genre. This definitely sets the bar high.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,377 reviews1,438 followers
May 25, 2017
Micheline Helsing is the last of the line of Van Helsings, of monster slaying fame. In this version of the tale, Micheline slays ghosts and otherworldly beings by capturing their visages on film, thereby taking away their power and banishing back to the realms where they belong.

One night, Micheline and her team has a mission go awry and now, because of a curse, they are going to die. Unless, they can find the ghost that caused the sickness, rid the world of it, and save themselves. The clock is ticking...

Shutter was a Brom Stoker award nominee for Best First Novel. That's what drew me to this creepy tale.

Horror isn't my usual genre and the scary parts of this tale really scared the heck out of me. If horror is your thing, this one might not be scary enough. Reading is such a personal experience, you know? It's hard to predict.

Alameda was at her best during the truly terrifying moments, which, in my opinion, were the undead creatures and anything scenario involving a mirror. Everybody has mirrors in their homes. What if, hypothetically, these were portals into other worlds and *things* could come crawling out of them into this one- eeeeeek!

I didn't enjoy the so-so character building, teen angst or abusive relationship with the father. That could be a potential trigger too.

Micheline is the type of teen heroine that I met in the Divergent trilogy and wasn't impressed with then: not trusting anyone in authority with her problems even though they could potentially help her, throwing herself into life threatening situations without proper planning and, therefore, putting her friends in danger too, and pining for the lantern-jawed guy with the ridiculously pumped up fighting skills.

If it wasn't for the insanely entertaining parts with the ghosts, mirrors, strong friendships with her team and tragic back story, this would be a two-star book instead of a four. But, I believe that its positive attributes outweighed the negatives. Again, reading is such a personal trip. You may disagree. And that's ok.

For a debut book, Shutter is really very good. I read the last couple chapters of this in a rush because I was terrified for the well-being of the main characters.

If you love young adult horror tales, you should give this one a read. Some read-alikes: Jackaby or 13 Days of Midnight. Shutter is scarier than either of those, but they have similar themes.
Profile Image for Kelli.
851 reviews395 followers
October 14, 2016
I'm starting to have a complex about all the books I am not liking this year. I thought this would be scary but I realized very early on that it was not scary and it was not for me. The writing felt forced. There were too many technical terms, too many explanations, too few scary moments. 2 stars

Is it me or do these types of stories always have someone named Ryder? :)
Profile Image for Evie.
714 reviews925 followers
September 10, 2014
5 stars? PFft! This is a freaking night sky of stars kind of book!

Before I try to put my thoughts into a somewhat coherent review, let me just say one thing: no matter what I write, I feel like I will never be able to do this book justice. In fact, I believe only an interpretive dance at the edge of a cliff on top of the highest mountain, wearing nothing but a crown of flowers, could come somewhat close to doing Shutter justice. And it would probably still fall short. So yeah. Good luck to me.

"Saving people, hunting things... Family business" (Dean; Supernatural TV show)

Boy oh boy, what a ride! Shutter is completely and utterly mind blowing. Fans of kick-ass supernatural thriller/horror stories will be delighted to discover this book. And if, like me, you happen to be a fan of Supernatural (the TV show) and classics such as Dracula, Helsing and Frankenstein, you will absolutely love all the references!

"I have a duty to do, a duty to others, a duty to you, a duty to the dead, and by God, I shall do it."

In short, this book is about fighting evil, exorcising ghosts and making sure no mundane humans get hurt in the process. Micheline is a Helsing, and one of the last ones in the lineage at that. Her hunting partners are: Jude, a boy who can predict your death if he touches you; Oliver, a computer genius and tech-whiz; and Ryder, the hottest Aussie on the planet who also happens to be completely out of limits for Micheline. The story line involves a ghost hunt that gets crazy out of control, a death-curse with a 7-day deadline, lots of eye-popping action and a mystery to solve - a mystery that will blow your socks off.

Colt guns, Harley motorcycles, Quija boards, hunting ghosts with cameras, and loads of wicked bad-assery - Shutter is my new obsession. I love ghost stories - from possessions to evil poltergeists, demons, Bloody Marries - you name it - and if they come with witty dialogues, an awesome cast of characters, and really complex world building, I just can't resist. I'm sold. I am a fan. (I am a FAN!)

There is not a single thing I could complain about here. Not a thing I didn't like. I loved every second of this book, every little nuance, every bit of reference, every joke, all the dialogues, all the blood-chillingly terrifying scenes, ALL THE THINGS, and FEELS, and TWISTS. To me, this book is perfection. I feel like I've been waiting for it my whole life. Now, I know not everyone will feel the same, some of you might not get it at all, I guess it's just a matter of taste, but if your taste is anything like mine (dark, creepy stuff, cool gadgets - guns, cars, motorcycles, cameras - references to classic horror icons, and characters that are so well written, they become your imaginary friends) then you will probably be just as stoked to read Shutter as I was.

OK, now let's talk about the scary. I am a total wuss when it comes to watching horror movies. I love them, but I can't watch them all by myself. And even if I watch them with someone else, you can bet your panties I will be screaming like a little girl, jumping up at all the right moments and hiding under a blanket at least half the time. BUT, here's the thing, while I love reading horror books, not many of them actually scare me. There is maybe a handful of books that really scared the living soul out of me and had me so terrified, I could not sleep. And Shutter is one of them. Courtney is disturbingly good at setting the mood and describing blood-chilling situations. She had me holding my breath and looking anxiously around the room. I could not look into the bathroom mirror at night without breaking out in cold sweat. Shutter is seriously creepy at times. It's cool and kind of nerdy, and really magnificently badass. Heck, it's even funny at times. And a helluva a lot sexy. But for the most part, it's really, truly, undeniably scary.

"What do you want?" I shouted at the entity, pushing back to my feet.
"Vengeance," it rasped. "I'll rip the heart right out of Helsing, starting with you."

Part mystery, part twisted ghost revenge story, Shutter is one helluva debut novel. It's so well written and so fantastically plotted, it's really kind of hard to comprehend how this could be someone's very first book. Alameda sure knows how to write. She bursts into the YA book scene with a phenomenal story and I really can't wait to see where she'll take us next. I am going to be obsessively stalking her carrier for sure, and I don't even care how creepy that sounds!
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
April 3, 2015
4.5 stars

I remember starting Shutter with a certain amount of skepticism, cynical soul that I am. In my own defense, good YA horrors are few and far between – mostly they’re just creepy enough to justify the label and not a bit more. But Courtney Alameda proved me wrong in no time at all. By page 30, I was gripping my poor Kindle tightly, disgusted, terrified and oddly thrilled all at the same time. In all honesty, I haven’t read a YA horror so scary and exciting since The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman.

Shutter is exactly what I want all my YA books to be: exciting, different and most importantly, romantic. It has all the right ingredients, but they’re put together in an entirely new way which makes it one of the best books I’ve read in a good long while. Alameda combined (mostly) excellent characterization with an incredible sense of pacing to give us a truly memorable read.

The basis of Alameda’s worldbuilding is a biological rarity – tetrachromacy – to which she gave paranormal properties. Micheline Helsing, descendant of the Van Helsing, is a tetrachromat, which allows her to see and classify ghosts better than anyone else. Her family has always fought against the dead and Micheline carried on the tradition and obligation even after losing half her family to ghosts. She and her father are the only remaining members of the Helsing family and they are both members of the Helsing Corps, an agency that defends the cities from the supernatural.

For the most part, Alameda’s characterization is superb. Micheline and her crew are excellently developed, each with a very distinct personality. Their group dynamic is also very interesting, as is Micheline’s relationship with Ryder. However, Micheline’s relationship with her father was somewhat exaggerated and his complete blindness to her needs seemed entirely too unrealistic. As the main antagonist of the story, at least emotionally, Micheline’s father came across as completely self-absorbed, utterly mean and perhaps even two-dimensional. His character brought a very strong emotional layer, but didn’t otherwise contribute.

Otherwise though, Shutter was practically flawless. The entire experience was reminiscent of Anna Dressed in Blood – the surprise, the horror, the excellent writing, and the creepiness of the story, which seems to be Alameda’s special talent.

Shutter seems to be a standalone, which I usually support, but in this case I feel that there’s room for more and I hope she’ll decide to go back to these characters. The sooner the better.

Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
March 30, 2016
An unsolicited Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review.

Micheline Helsing is a descendant from the Van Helsing lineage. She's a hunter of monsters, spirits and ghosts alike. When one of her hunts goes awry and her and her team end up being cursed by a soul-chain, she learns that all of their lives are at stake. Willing to defy her father, she goes off with her team in search of the ghost.

Bloody well done! I was on the edge of my seat most of the time. And it wasn't so scary as the cover seems to be. Though there are certain scary scenes that I pictured the writing is just so easy to digest that I pretty much read this in one day. It didn't drag on at all because there was so much action scenes, it hardly stopped. The whole capturing-ghosts-in-cameras but isn't anything new since there's that video game that has the same theme, but the whole Helsing aspect of it was quite good.

And I really liked Ryder's and Micheline's relationship. Nor was it the focus. I love books where romance isn't necessarily the main reason for the character to do anything. But there are exceptions to my own rule. Micheline is very stubborn and doesn't realize she loves the love interest romantically and I quite liked that. She's so busy trying to save everyone that she doesn't know what to do with her heart or who to give it to. Out of all the secondary characters I found Jude to be the most hilarious. He just had the most funniest things to say.

Pick this one up if you love action with a side of romance and a smidgen of mystery! I was expecting something else entirely but what I got was a page turner of a book!



"I don't need you to save me. I can save myself." (70)

"Was loving someone different from being in love with them?" (238)

"The extraordinary existed in what we did in life, not in who we were." (286)

"We are not defined by our lack of fear—but rather by what we choose to do when facing the nightmare." (342)
Profile Image for Nicole.
631 reviews265 followers
January 26, 2015
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HOLY HELL. (Pun always intended)


OH. MY. GOD. I'm going to admit, it was the cover of Shutter that drew me in (and Lynne Matson's recommendation). I'm not a huge paranormal, ghost, or horror fan. (In order: Usually has cliches, usually isn't unique, and I'm a huge wuss.) But ohmydearsweetgod, Alameda makes me want to run out and grab everything remotely similar to Shutter.

First things first, the science. It's absolutely amazing and it's not something you'd expect in ghosts, is it? But there are talks about a ghost's energy, electrons, souls, logistics, mirrors, buffers, and the cameras? With the quartz-lenses? Everything is so well thought out I can't even express how amazing the world is and how real it feels (which is actually pretty creepy.) There's no doubt that there was a ton of research involved, including a few myths and legends.
Typically ghosts can be caught with bibles. Priests. A rag-tag group of teenagers who no one believes. And while our characters were a rag-tag group (and a fantastic one), I loved how the Helsings' were a nation wide company/name. Everyone knew them, everyone respected them, and they had an organized method of containing and killing ghosts--which is sort of a small detail, but it's just so unique in itself that I absolutely adored it. This alternate version of Earth was bloody brilliant. (As Ryder would say.)

Ryder. Ryder was amazing. Can I have Ryder? I'll kidnap him if I have to...I'll probably end up being crushed by Micheline, but still. Totally worth it. But more on him later.
We should, after all, start with our main character, Micheline who was absolutely amazing. Talk about a badass character! She never called herself brave or courageous or any of those things--she acted it. She was a natural leader and her character never felt forced. She had an air of supremacy around her and the way she managed to deduce things so quickly and her determination...she's definitely one of my favorite YA heroines. It's seriously shocking how she manages to be so kickbutt armed with only a camera (and guns once in a while. A bullet in the undead flesh can't hurt, right?)

Okay, but now Ryder. Ryder and Jude and Oliver. Despite all the testosterone going on there, all their personalities were so distinct and they all had their weaknesses and talents and strengths. If it was one thing they had in common, it was how badass they were right along Micheline, and their loyalty to her. Honestly seeing all their bonds with each other and our fabulous main character was one of the best aprts of the book. Their friendship was amazing since we had snark on one side, stubbornness on another, intelligent bluntness on the other, and just pure determination on the fourth.

Ryder though. Our swoony love interest. He and Micheline have had a sort of thing going on for a while and it's just adorable how the two manage to be independent but still lean on each other when they can. I adore the two of them together and I just can't get enough of them! MY BBYS.

Shutter is an absolute must-read. Absolute. It's not often when I recommend paranormals, so you know I mean it. The descriptions of the deaths are sort of gory, yes, but gloriously so. (Shhhh, I'm not weird.) But Alameda just does a terrific job of bringing the creepiness to life with her words, and the ghosts/necros themselves? Holy shit. They're terrifying. But despite all of that, Shutter did also give me a bit of heartache. There are moments in the book that are just filled with sorrow and it just rounds out this book in a beautiful way. Seriously. Put this on your TBR and read it as soon as humanly (and maybe ghostly) possible.


Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews324 followers
March 4, 2018
I want to thank NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for allowing me to read this eARC.

Shutter is a fast paced, kick ass ghost story.

Micheline Helsing is the descendant of Van Helsing. That's right! The one that put Dracula in his "grave". Van Helsing along with Mina and Johnathan Harker, Dr. Seward and the ever trusty historian Bram Stoker made up the elite squad of undead hunters.

Fast forward a few centuries and you have Micheline the last descendant to this legacy. Micheline is a tetrachromat. That means she can see the spiritual auras of the undead. Zombies glimmered red. Paranecrotic monsters emitted a pus-colored yellow or orange light. Hypernecrotics glowed in greens and icy blues and vampires were supposed to be cobalt. They are mostly extinct so Micheline isn't certain.

Micheline is a ghost hunter. She unlike everyone else, can see ghosts. Their violet light, can not be seen with normal vision.

At the beginning of the story we are thrown into a battered St. Mary's Hospital. Micheline and her "team" are there to identify the undead and take it out. The boys in her team Ryder and Jude are somatic reapers they take care of monsters with rot and bones. They also keep Micheline from being killed. Last on the team is Oliver, the last descendant of Bram Stoker. He chronicles all their kills and makes sure everything is recorded, he is also their techie.

Now that you know about the main characters, Micheline and her boys. What is this story about you ask? Well it's about an unstoppable ghost. A baddie with a different ghostly makeup then Micheline is used to. Not only does the ghost taunt her and her friends from the start the ghost puts a timer on their lives. The ghost gives the crew one week to catch it or they will all die. Of course the ghost doesn't tell them this they have to find all this out the hard way with research.

This book had me at the seat of my pants, you could say. Nail biting...the whole nine yards. It was a great ride. I can't wait to read more from this author in the future.

Constantine + Ghostbusters + Dracula + a kick ass female = AWESOME!
Profile Image for Rayne.
862 reviews287 followers
December 27, 2014
3.5 stars

Shutter is a bit of Fatal Frame
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meets Kohta Hirano's Hellsing
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meets Resident Evil
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meets Ghostbusters.
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This is definitely not the book I was expecting, and there were a couple of things in there that I didn't like and that I wish I could whine and complain about, but the truth is that the final product was surprisingly satisfying and provided me with a very enjoyable experience, which says a lot coming from someone with a chip or two on her shoulder concerning how some aspects of the novel were handled.

I was not expecting for the book to be based so much on Stoker's Dracula, and I was immediately turned off by it. It took some getting used to the idea of an agency/academy where the descendants of those who took part in the hunting of Dracula lead and train an army against the undead. I kept getting flashbacks of Hellsing, Vol. 01, but Alameda soon made the story her own and made it work very well. In this world, everyone knows about the undead and who they gonna call when they start chewing/possessing people.

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Sorta like Ghostbusters, but way bloodier. I wouldn't classify this book as strictly horror. There were certainly creepy parts and gore galore, but this one leaned more towards paranormal action with a couple of creepy scenes rather than outright horror, and I think that's the root of my issues with the novel. I was expecting full on horror, Fatal Frama style. Of course, I fully acknowledge that was my fault rather than the book's. The synopsis was pretty clear about what the book would be about, it was I who made assumptions, and ultimately, I unintentionally hurt my own experience with this book. It was a bit hard to get into the novel initially because of that, but the truth is that it didn't take long for me to get really interested in the novel. Like I said, Alameda really made it work.

The author left no rock unturned, no concept unexplored, no idea unexplained. She had a perfectly logical and thorough reason and explanation for just about everything in the novel. I never had a problem imagining anything in the novel, because Alameda made it her life mission to detail for the reader every single aspect of whatever she was introducing, whether it was how Micheline's camera or how her eyes worked, or how weapons functioned and how the ghosts were able to cross into this world. I don't think I've ever read a more detailed and thorough YA paranormal book. Alameda left nothing to chance, nothing for the readers to wonder about and make their own assumptions. She gave us a world and she made sense of it all, which made it really easy to visualize it and get lost in it. All this resulted in a very original and fascinating take on old and tired concepts.

This novel is very action packed, almost relentless in its delivery. There's hardly a moment of rest for these characters, and though that made for a very quick pace, it also made the novel a bit repetitive, especially because the action hangs on hunting, facing and failing to defeat the exact same entity a couple of times in the novel. In the end, though, the novel is still very entertaining and fun.

Shutter is undeniably predictable. Anyone paying attention will be able to see the big reveals coming, but interestingly enough, it didn't bother me because of how they were delivered. I'm sure these twists were intended to shock the reader somewhat, but their reveals were made up of so much more than the discovery of who the bad guy was. They were delivered in such a way that made the repercussions of that reveal and the way it impacted the characters a whole lot more important than the discovery of the mystery. Actually, one of the big reveals of the novel, one I saw coming from a mile away, still had quite an impact on me because of how the scene unraveled and the way it shaped Micheline.

Micheline was a formidable main character. Sure, she was reckless and prone to melodramas, but she was brave, stubborn and loyal. I do wish the secondary characters, especially the love interest, had exhibited as many facets as Micheline. The guys, Ryder, Jude and Oliver, had a palpable presence in the novel, but their personalities were fairly standard and slightly brushed over. The same goes for Leonard, Micheline's dad. To me, he was slightly one-dimensional. I liked the relationships and the general idea behind the dynamics between them all, but they never came across as entirely complex or deep for me.

Moreover, the novel had a couple of issues that just rubbed me off the wrong way. First off, there was a surprising lack of females in the novel, and one of the two that are featured the most is a cruel, bitchy mean girl, and the other is hardly important to the plot. Likewise, Micheline's situation with her dad felt a bit generic, shallow and too much like fodder for drama. And I especially didn't like at all the reason behind the forbidden romance between Micheline and Ryder. I appreciate the book's attempt to be much more than action and creepy scenes, to give several layers of complications and drama for the characters to deal with, but some of it didn't sit well with me for they felt either forced or too shallow.

I was enjoying this book very much, but I was still unconvinced of what my rating would be until the ending came around. That climax was spectacular. It was thrilling, engaging, exhilarating and fantastically plotted. Every single one of my complaints fell away when the climax rolled around, it was that enjoyable. The last 50 pages or so made every little issue I had with the novel almost inconsequential. It truly was a fantastic way to end the novel.

In the end, Shutter is a very interesting and entertaining novel. I struggled sometimes with the writing, particularly the past tense, but the novel was well-structured, very well explained and stood on a very solid foundation. Probably one of the best YA PNR I've read in a while. A bit flawed, but a very difficult book to put down and a very easy story to like.
Profile Image for Rachel  (APCB Reviews).
331 reviews1,191 followers
August 13, 2015
Initial Thoughts: Oh, what a great ending!! Not exactly what I was expecting, but still good.

Read the full review @A Perfection Called Books

"We are not defined by our lack of fear but rather by what we choose to do when facing the nightmare."

I have the perfect pitch for this book: Young James Bond meets Ghostbusters! After seeing lots of rave reviews, I was so excited to read this. Although it's not exactly what I was hoping for or expecting, this book was definitely entertaining and creative.

Micheline and her band of ghost-hunting friends get exposed to a ghostly disease that threatens to consume them and make them ghosts. Micheline and her friends have 5 days to exorcise the ghost to save themselves. I love how fast-paced this story is, and Alameda couples it with a frantic, urgent tone.

I really enjoyed the characters. They have great chemistry and hilarious banter. Micheline is the tough, resilient leader of the group, the heir to the Van Helsing legacy and the Corps. Ryder has been Micheline's friend since they were young and they both keep edging beyond mere friendship even as Micheline's father plans to arrange her marriage to keep the Van Helsing bloodline strong. Jude is the honest and hilarious one. Oliver is the brains of the operation. They make a great team together, and I loved their friendship.

Alameda's writing was wonderful, I never would have thought she was a debuting author this year! Her ideas were so intricate and creative. I loved how she created this corporation of sorts that dealt with ghosts and things that won't stay dead. I loved how she described it all along with the gadgetry, the explanations of the departments, the history, etc. My one critique would be that there was a bit of info-dump in the beginning. I appreciated that she tried to explain some of the scientific stuff behind the gadgets and especially the camera, but it went over my head a bit and left me confused.

The romance was so adorable! It's kind of forbidden since Micheline's dad is planning an arranged marriage for her (yikes). It was so sweet, and the tension and chemistry and fireworks were all there. I swooned. Some very creepy and scary things happen in this book, things that nightmares are made of! I loved the action scenes, but I felt like the plot was dragging a bit in parts.

Overall, this was a fast-paced, fun read that I think you'll enjoy!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,034 reviews2,605 followers
January 12, 2015
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/01/10/y...

Horror in Young Adult fiction is tricky territory, so whenever I see a novel getting some buzz, I can’t help but take notice. Shutter ended up surprising me. While it probably wasn’t the book I was expecting, there’s absolutely no denying that Courtney Alameda has delivered a high-octane read that’s at once superbly written and full of interesting new ideas. This is the first YA novel in months to stand out for me. That’s not to say there weren’t a few areas that I thought could have used improvement, but I’m impressed especially given how this is the author’s debut.

Shutter introduces us to Micheline Helsing – yes, she is indeed a descendent of that Helsing – a tetrachromat girl whose ability allows her to identify different types of undead by the color of their auras they give off. Her family along with other such illustrious lineages like the Stokers and Drakes have always sworn to hunt and destroy monsters, and in time their organization has grown to occupy an entire island off the coast of San Francisco, complete with itsown medical and research buildings, training yards, and other such facilities. This means that besides her powers, Micheline and her pals are also armed with state-of-the-art monster hunting tech and equipment, all the better to do their jobs. Mundane firearms are usually enough to bring down the corporeal baddies, but dealing with the spiritual undead sometimes requires a bit more finesse.

As such, Micheline never goes anywhere without her camera, her weapon of choice when it comes to fighting ghosts. By capturing their “ghostlight” on film, she can steal their energy bit by bit until they are gone for good. Until now, her trusty SLR has never failed her. But then a run-in with a particularly nasty entity leaves her and her team cursed and marked by soulchains, and Micheline has seven days to figure out how to exorcise the entity or else they will all die. With her relationship with her father already on the rocks since the deaths of her mother and brothers, Micheline is forced to go on the run in order to save herself and her friends.

One of the favorite aspects about this book is how seamlessly Alameda has managed to incorporate the Reapers into the modern world. With the Helsings being in the open and publicly known as the go-to guys for all your ghost and monster problems, we avoid the kinds of pesky problems that arise when authors try to construct a believable scenario around a secret society. But while I am sold on the Reapers and their place in the world, I also thought the book stumbled on providing some of the finer details. Take the mechanics behind the use of mirrors and camera lenses to exorcise ghosts, for example. It scores major points with me for being a new and innovative idea, but at the same time the explanation behind the process is rather touch-and-go. To be fair, I do tend to feel this way about a lot of concepts in YA novels, and I can be excessively critical when it comes to world-building elements. I wish the camera-as-a-weapon idea had been more robust and better developed (no pun intended), especially since it so central to the book, but I was also fine for the most part just going along with it.

However, when it comes to the writing, I have nothing but good things to say. It’s hard to believe this is Courtney Alameda’s first novel. Her writing style is wonderful and easy on the eyes, and she keeps such a fine consistency on her character’s voice as well as pacing behind her storytelling, it honestly led me to believe she’s been doing this for ages. Another observation is that despite its categorization, I wouldn’t exactly describe Shutter as horror. Generous amounts of blood, gore and guts aside, there’s simply none of that atmosphere behind it, though I don’t doubt Alameda could have managed it if she wanted to. There are definitely traces of Horror elements in the plot, but quite simply, I got the feeling she was more interested in telling an action-thriller, and she certainly succeeded in that. Sure, there are parts that are predictable (mainly who the big bad entity was, as well as the identity of the mastermind pulling the strings behind the scenes), but I could not spot any lulls or breaks that hindered the flow of the story.

There are things I wish could have been different – Micheline’s character, for example, is the typical YA heroine ruled by emotional impulses, who leaps into dangerous situations without thinking about the consequences and insists on taking matters into her own hands even though she makes a bigger mess of things in the end. Not long ago, I also read an insightful guest post by another author about friendships between strong female characters, and ever since then I have become more aware of how many YA female protagonists are kickass, smart-talking girls who are inevitably surrounded by only male companions, with other girls in the story only serving as rivals or someone getting in the way and/or someone for the heroine to protect. I really think this trend has to change. To its credit, at least this book had a romantic side plot that was not convoluted or poisoned by a love triangle or any such nonsense, and the relationships between the characters, particularly the one between Micheline and her father, reached me on a deeper level.

The strengths, most notably the strong writing and the fast-paced, action-oriented plot, overcame all the minor weaknesses and made reading this novel worth it, though. Sure to appeal to fans of supernatural/horror themed TV shows and books, you won’t regret picking this one up.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
May 14, 2015
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

“Hand for a hand, and tooth for a tooth –
Chain down the souls of Abraham’s youth.
Eye for an eye, and life for a life –
Down stabs vengeance, swift as a knife.”

Shutter brings to life a world where the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage continue the family tradition of battling the supernatural. Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat, someone that possesses the ability to see the ghostlight of the undead. Being able to see them allows her to use modified analog SLR camera to capture the ghostly energy with each flash. Most ghosts could be captured by this method with a couple of photographs, however, their latest assignment refuses to go down so easy. When it infects Micheline and each member of her team with a Soulchain, finding out how to destroy it is more imperative than ever after they learn they have a mere 7 days before the Soulchains take their lives.

Alameda has created a most impressive world in her debut novel. The concept is an amalgamation of Ghostbusters and the video game Fatal Frame with the historical fiction addition of the Helsing and Stoker families who allied in the late 1800s to defeat Dracula. It would have been easy for this combination to go wrong but Alameda makes it all seem quite ideal. The concept behind Micheline’s weapon was impeccably detailed backed by an immense amount of obvious research. It was all fully fleshed out and inevitably sounded completely logical, however it reached a point where I found myself getting lost in the details. Normally I would say that too much detail vs. not enough would be preferable but that wasn’t the case here. An explanation that was spread throughout the story would have been more desirable than the near info-dump in the books beginning. There was a point where so much time was spent on the detailing that I lost focus on the story itself and actually put the book on hold only to come back to it later.

Being a huge fan of horror novels I had some high expectations going in (but mostly because, holy crap that cover.) Alas, I was for the most part left disappointed. Although the proper elements were all in place and excellent use of description was used effectively, it didn’t ever truly frighten me. Nonetheless, this was still an action packed page-turner even if the mystery itself was easily foreseeable. Two things I did not foresee: 1. the inclusion of a Romeo & Juliet style romance (“My father’s rules kept us imprisoned in adjacent cells; we were able to reach through the bars, but we couldn’t ever by truly, madly, inseparably together.”) and 2. it’s fairly clear that this is the start of a new series. I’m not absolutely certain, but there were enough loose ends left that could definitely lead to the continuation of this tale. I can’t say I’m against this idea though. I think with all the world-building details out of the way this could be a solid supernatural series that I would definitely be willing to pick up again.

Mild on horror, mild on romance but definitely an entertaining thrill ride of a story.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Estefani.
150 reviews58 followers
September 9, 2016
2.5 Stars

I was surprised by this book, and not in a good way exactly. I was expecting something more indie, the characters belong and are trained by this big institution which is recognized worldwide, which means the entire world knows what The Helsing Corps are and that paranormal entities are pretty much real.

I don't know, I was expecting something more eerie and mysterious, not this famous 16-year-old ghost hunter, whose photo has a National Geographic Magazine cover. The characters were extremely childish, I don't know about you, but I can't stand when someone sticks their tongue out at someone else, completely stupid, it's not cute, it's not funny, I can't stand it.

Ryder was the lamest love interest I've ever read. There were parts when the four of them were together and he didn't speak for 10 lines of dialogue, sometimes I had to go back a few pages to see if he was really there. He didn't say anything interesting or useful. He was supposed to be very skilled and strong, but we never saw it. He didn't have a personality AT ALL, I was really pissed, it was almost like the author wanted to have a love interest just because.

Jude, very funny and charming, could see someone's possible death just by touch. Oliver was their tech guy, the mind of the group. Micheline was the stubborn MC who couldn't stop herself from doing reckless and pointless moves. Micheline's dad was a jerk who couldn't get his shit together.

And the part that really bothered me was the content. I love when a book has a good system of how things work, especially when dealing with something that doesn't have an explanation like paranormal stuff. This book had it, it was just EXTREMELY TEDIOUS. Too many explanations, and at the end, it didn't make any sense, the given information wasn't relevant to the story.

Also, and this is very important, it's not a horror book, it's more like a paranormal read, this isn't scary in the least, which contributed to my disappointment. There were a couple of creepy scenes, but that was it.

I think there might be a sequel in the future, some things were left unanswered and open for following books.
Profile Image for Matt.
403 reviews45 followers
September 29, 2014

ARC from publisher
due out FEB 2015
Did Not Finish - SEPT 2014

This story is badass and you should read it. Not complaining about the plot here. That's my first and best praise.

Now, my opinion of what I read. All 78 pages. And why.

This book a furious flood of fantastically functional alliteration, overstuffed with hyperbole, figurative verbs, and dizzying metaphors. Like, so dizzying that I threw up a million times while reading this most amazingly anticipated Young Adult book ever published ever.

You see what I'm doing, right?

Author Courtney Alameda's style and voice over-powered everything else. It's laid on pretty thick, and 13-year-old girls are going to love it. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes and just enjoy the otherwise incredibly unique story for fans of Ghostbusters, City of Bones, Kendare Blake, Holly Black, and Sam and Dean of the hit show "Supernatural." Also, the games Fatal Frame or Resident Evil.

Here are some examples of why I couldn't read past page 78 and had to give it a 3, even though this dark paranormal horror action story is probably a 4 had I finished it:

(p 59) "The hall clock's second hand clicked like a revolver's hammer -- tick, tock, bam. Even time wanted me dead."

Classic teenage, over-dramatic prose. There's more:

(p 60) "His lips parted, and I hoped for words that could put the breath back into me."

(p 60) ". . . his soft smile tugging my heart-strings out of shape."

As you can see, in less than three pages, just look at the regularity of this kind of romantic, distracting language. Here's another great one. I closed the book for twenty-four hours after reading this one:

(p 62) "I followed Damian out into the anemic, waning night. Spindly trees lined the wide avenue, shedding the gangrenous leaves of fall."

Read that one aloud. Sounds clunky, right? Thanks, thesaurus.

What is anemic night? And will those leaves give me a disease? Sorry, but the words are annoying to me, and the ratio of nouns and adjectives/adverbs is distracting. It's overkill. And the whole book is like this. I flipped through 350 pages and found this stuff everywhere I glanced. When the author describes action and does dialogue, it's pretty tight writing -- it's focused; but any setting description or moment of character introspection is a garbage bag littered with this kind of trash. Ohhhh, I just did a double metaphor with a clever word twist tying them together. Garbage Bag. "Littered." Trash. I must be Alameda. Figuratively speaking, of course!

Badum---tishhhh! "I'll be here all night. Tip your waitress." HAHAHAAHA! Get it? I can't really be Alameda. Just like you can't actually have your heart "tugged" upon, on strings which aren't there. Get it? You get it, right? Right? Get it?

(Maniacal, cynical alter-ego tucked back in its cage)

There's more examples, of course. It seems everywhere the author could cram in vocabulary, she did. Everyone and every object in the book is "scanning" "creeping" "shaking" "shivering" "popping" "throbbing". It's sooooooooooooooooooooo dramatic.

Here's the last two, then I'm moving on to reading a "not" debut YA author:

(p 68) "Dad's fingertips, pressed hard into his desktop, were bleached with blood. 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."

What the shit is that sentence? Seriously. Tell a good story. Don't do whatever this is.

(p 69) "The words tumbled from my mouth, tripping over one another in their rush to get past my lips."

I'm done. I'm sure you can see my problem. For some readers, hey, I respect this isn't a problem at all. But with this kind of page regularity, I feel like I'm being abused by a very good first-year college-level writer who is trying to show off for her creative writing class.

There are such great elements in here. Honestly. This is a good book that needs an editor to hack away some of this for its own good. I like the characters, I like the backstories, I loved the pacing, and the world is pretty sweet. The dialogue is snappy, too. It's the block of text describing the sounds and the feel of the dark, damp, dank, dim hallways that makes me want to kill myself.

It would be a great movie.

I do recommend it if you see it in the library in February 2015. I'm bitching about it, perhaps unfairly, and you'll probably dig it more.




Profile Image for Beth  (YA Books Central).
415 reviews115 followers
November 23, 2014
"Horror has a new name.
Introducing Courtney Alameda."

"CALL IT REAPER'S INSOMNIA, but the dead wouldn't let me sleep at night. Every time the sun went down, I swore I sensed them stirring, starving.

The first thing that drew me to want to read Shutter was the incredibly creepy cover of the book. I mean it is SERIOUSLY CREEPY. I am not even sure how to describe the creature that is portrayed. I can tell you that it is most likely an evil entity because nothing that looks like that could be anywhere remotely defined as good.

In Shutter the characters live in a "future" world where ghosts and the supernatural are a common occurrence and there are even specially trained people who fight to keep the ghosts in the spirit world and away from humans. The main character is named Micheline Helsing. She is a tetrachromat--a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. Micheline is a kick-ass heroine who uses her skills to locate and hunt down the supernatural and uses her camera to exorcise the ghosts and capture their spiritual energy on film. Micheline is so strong and determined and yet so vulnerable. I love this about her character. This makes her seem so real and readers can really relate to her.

Micheline works with a specific group of people that each have certain skills that help them to track down supernatural beings and send them back to where they belong. Oliver is a techo-whiz who also helped to create the camera that Micheline uses to capture the spirits, Jude can predict when death is about to occur by touching someone, and Ryder is the young man that Micheline has loved for as long as she has been alive. Together they make the perfect team to fight the supernatural and keep the balance between good and evil.

While on one of their ghost hunts, Micheline encounters a truly evil spirit that refuses to enter the camera. This spirit places a curse on Micheline called "soulchain curse" that gives her and her companions seven days to defeat the spirit or they will die themselves. Micheline and her companions then begin a journey to discover the truth behind this curse and the mystery of why she and her friends were chosen for this curse.

I am completely and utterly obsessed with horror stories so I knew that I had to read Shutter. Everyone was raving about how intense and incredibly scary the entire book was.....WOW...Let me just tell you that EVERYONE WAS RIGHT....From the very first chapter to the very last chapter I had chills running up and down my spine...The descriptions that Courtney Alameda uses when she is writing about an encounter with a ghost are just so intense and makes you feel as though you are in the room experiencing everything the character is experiencing.. I WAS TOTALLY FREAKED OUT.

"A scorpion.
Made of pressed-together corpses. It crawled on four sets mis-matched arms. Human legs fused together to make a stinger that curled over the necro's back--I'd never seen anything like it, not in anatomy class or Helsing's bestiaries or even in stories. Hyper necrotic mutations didn't generally involve corpses fusing together into one huge nightmare."

Another aspect that I really enjoyed was how Courtney Alameda references classic horror stories within the story. I won't give away which ones she references because that would take away from some pretty special moments......

Shutter is full of blood-chilling situations, evil -killer ghosts, death-defying suspense, and the answer to the mystery that no one will see coming.....

I would recommend Shutter to anyone who who reads horror, suspense, or mystery novels because this book has it all. It has some pretty graphic scenes at certain moments in the book so it is definitely not for the faint of heart....but this is what makes it so memorable...Courtney Alameda is absolutely going on my "Authors To Read in 2015" list....She entered the YA scene with this incredible debut novel and "hit it out of the park." Shutter is one book that will stay with me for many, many nights to come....

Profile Image for Kaora.
570 reviews281 followers
October 4, 2014
Call it reaper's insomnia, but the dead wouldn't let me sleep at night. Every time the sun went down, I swore I sensed them stirring, starving.

With that we are introduced to Courtney Alameda's Shutter, a horror novel about Micheline Helsing, a descendent of Van Helsing, who is known as a tetrachromat, allowing her to see and classify ghosts by the color of their auras. She is a member of Helsing Corps, the 611 number you call when the dead just won't stay dead.

I have a duty to do, a duty to others, a duty to you, a duty to the dead, and by God, I shall do it.

I did really like how this book was woven with the story of Van Helsing, and many of the names in the book were taken from other sources, including X-Files (Mulder, Skully, Skinner are a few of the last names I noticed). Being a huge fan of the X-Files it was an easter egg I really enjoyed.

The main character was well developed and kicked some major ass although I did find her a tad bit aggressive to other females and over dramatic at times. I'm also not sure how much I bought into the "forbidden love".

I swore I heard the empty click of a revolver barrel whenever we touched. How many clicks did we get until we hit the live round, until life as we knew it lost and ended up blasted all over the wall?

My favorite thing about this book however was the creepiness.

One larval sac hung over the panels, clinging to the basement catwalk. Though I couldn't see the sac's contents, an eight-fingered hand pressed up against the membrane and flexed, as if reaching for me.

The sheer gore.

When the shutter opened, the corpse sagged. Her skin split, unzipping the crown of her head and rupturing the base of her neck. Black veins laced her flesh. An oil-dark mist gushed from the wounds, drawing a dark line where her spine pressed against her shirt.

Alameda is a very talented writer, and while some of the descriptions didn't work (anemic light? anemic night?), she could do creepy like nobody's business.

This was a book that kept me up late at night and made me check under my bed twice before turning out the lights.

Recommended for anyone who loves a bit of horror. This author is definitely one to watch.

Cross posted at Kaora's Corner.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews712 followers
February 28, 2015
Shutter has left me in a turmoil because I am not exactly sure how I feel. It’s safe to say I enjoyed reading it but at the same time, I did not like the characters.

Our main character, Micheline is really self-absorbed at times. She seems to make everything about her, including the lives of her fellow team mates and I am not sure how I feel about that. Considering the fact that they work as a team, the fact that she keeps secrets from them, secrets that could possibly endanger their lives, just doesn’t sit right with me. She is a 17 year old with a superiority complex and she just reallllly bothered me at times with her self-pitying.

The rest of the characters are not much better and at one point Micheline calls one of her friends emo just because she thinks that some of his characteristics are ‘emo’. It’s so offensive and throughout the story, Oliver seems to be separated from the group because he is the brains and not the brawns and I don’t like this distinction. No matter what role they play, as a part of their team, all members contribute to the well-being and should NOT be put down because of that.

I don’t know what was happening with Jude either, he was kind of a sexist jerk and said things like “you punch like a girl” and I was just like whaat? What does he mean, Micheline punches like a girl? Is he putting her down because of the fact she is a girl? Even though she is a lot more successful at exorcising ghosts than he is? I think the author may have been trying to make him seem like a bad boy who was a puppy at heart but let me tell you that that did NOT work. He just came off as a jerk most of the times.

Ryder, the love interest, is pretty much the only character that didn't really bother me. He was, for the most part, respectful of Micheline and it was only his 'golden boy perfectness' that bothered me at times.

As a team, they aren't much better and at one point Micheline mentions that the boys have this ‘macho’ thing going on where they won’t really talk about their injuries in front of one another. SERIOUSLY? You are a team. You work as a team. The fact that you get hurt is completely normal and this should not be something to hide from your team. I really just don’t understand the dynamics within their team. They are called a team but they don’t seem to work as one and that was a huge issue with me.

I want to give them credit though and I like that when Micheline’s dad slapped her and she refused to acknowledge it, her friends told her to stop because it was abuse. He slaps her and breaks all of her cameras and she cannot just keep making excuses for him! Her friends realized that and that made me feel a lot better about them.

Her dad has some serious issues and I don’t think there is enough words to talk about what kind of a jerk he was to his grieving young daughter. He is not fit to be a father and should have his parent card revoked. I do not kid.

The romance within the novel was kind of awkward and given the nature of their situation, I just wished it would go away.

Now, I am done ranting about the things I didn’t enjoy and I can finally move on to the good stuff. The horror aspects of this novel were so incredibly well done and they were the reason why I could continue reading even though I wasn’t getting along with the characters.

The author really knows how to create a creepy atmosphere. Plus the way she incorporated the Van Helsing/Dracula stuff within the story made it so enjoyable. More than that, she also has an original take on the whole idea of ghost hunting where the main character hunts the ghosts with her camera.
At first, I admit I was a little thrown off (for some reason I had missed that part in the blurb), but it’s clear the author has done her research and isn’t just randomly throwing something like that in for the purposes of originality.

The plot is also well paced and the mystery aspect is well done. I was scared for these characters’ life (hey just because I wasn’t their biggest fan doesn’t mean I want them dead). She had me on the edge of my chair, flipping through the pages, trying to figure out why all of this was happening.

The twist towards the end was one that I only guessed at and so it managed to take me off guard. I had no idea that was the direction the author would head down and that just made me so much more interested.

Going back to the character’s for a moment though, seeing them in all these scary situations really helped me understand them better which was why, in the end, I was able to still enjoy the story in spite of the drawbacks.

I genuinely hope there will be a sequel because I want to see where the author can go with this and I am curious to see how things will change and develop in future books.

This may not be a perfect book but it is fantastic brain candy and if you’re curious, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to give it a shot.
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,594 followers
September 29, 2015

Review also posted at Young Adult Hollywood.

Well that was bloody good.

In this story we have a ghost academy bred, group of boys and the last descendant of the Van Helsing lineage, Micheline who are trained at such a young age to eradicate and haunt ghost. When one of their missions went awry, the crew got infected with a deadly curse spreading through their bodies. Now, Micheline and her boys must destroy the root of all evil.

Shutter is unlike any other YA, Ghost - Supernatural book that I had read. Alameda brought a handful of new elements on the table. Tetrachromat, Van Helsing, Camera as a ghost repellant, isn’t something you regularly in books nowadays. It sounds weird, but it is undeniably refreshing.

I love that this crew of teenage Ghostbusters grew up in academy learning a thousand ways, how to abolish monsters. They have their own task force, 911 for ghost emergency. Ridiculously amusing, right? To me, it validates the grandness and realism of the story.

The characters and romance.

I am weak for this kind of trope. I’m sold, I want every kisses and swoon.

Shutter absolutely surpasses what I had in mind. Once I started reading it, I knew I have to finish it immediately. And when I have to retire and sleep for the night, I was so afraid to close my eyes because of the vivid gory description of ghost’s eyes. That was a wee bit icky.

Shutter is truly an upstanding YA ghost novel. It managed to reduce me to tears. I love almost everything about it except the action scenes. I wasn't really into it.

All of the praise for this book is well deserved and maybe if I haven't read The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes I would have probably hailed this book as the bestest.
Profile Image for Louisa.
497 reviews364 followers
September 29, 2015
HELL YES!!!!!! (No pun intended.) Score for my second Halloween read of the year!

Pure badassery, amazing heroine, interesting lore involving families like the Helsings and Stokers, capturing ghosts with fuckin' cameras, cool use of the San Francisco setting. I want to see this made into a TV show. Seriously.

Pick this up if you like Eliza Crewe's Crushed series (and if you don't, why???). I'd love to see Meda fight with Micheline. *drools*
Profile Image for H Freeman.
172 reviews
September 20, 2014
Buddyread this one with the always amazing Kat Stark. Check out her review here .

Whoa. Just...whoa.

I loved this one. I mean seriously.

This book was like wriggling in happiness. Reading Shutter was like...like:

but with scary zombie kittens that want to eat your face off.


Shutter was a pulse pounding tribute to Bram Stoker's Dracula world and boy did Courtney Alameda do him credit. I loved the history and the world building.

There were parts where I got literal chills, you guys. LITERAL CHILLS.

I was pleasantly surprised with the rich imagery, which YA often lacks, and I was impressed with the character development. I felt like I knew them. I lived and died with Micheline's every decision.

Can I also say THANK GOD for a strong heroine. Unfortunately truly badass MC's are hard to come by in YA, but I can honestly say Micheline is my new hero.

My only criticisms:

**Teensy Spoilers***

1.) If you're going to write about guns and using guns then GET IT RIGHT. These people were supposed to be paramilitary operatives, but Micheline doesn't know to stipple or use grip tape to avoid sweaty palm problems? This kills me.

Also-a Colt 1911 .45 has VERY little recoil. I'm not a grand expert on guns, but I've shot my share of 1911's and .45's and had zero trouble. I get more kick from my 9MM XDM.
Authors..please know what you're writing...do real research and your efforts will be rewarded.

Guns are awesome. A few lessons with a certified instructor would be book research and a study in how to be a bigger badass--authors take note. BIGGER BADASS. And then you can make your characters bigger badasses. It's an all around win.

2.) The ending was too neat. It was a cliche "everything worked out and was tied up with a nice little bow" ending. It wasn't bad, it just worked out TOO well in my opinion.

Overall this one was a dark, compelling read and I can't wait to start recommending it.
Jump on board my people, it's an awesome ride.
5 stars and praying for a sequel.

This ARC was provided by Netgalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,572 reviews260 followers
March 26, 2015
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat, a person who can see the auras of the undead. She is also one of the last descendants of Abraham Van Helsing, so she has been trained since birth to destroy corporeal and spiritual monsters. The corporeal undead go down by the bullet and the spiritual undead go down by the lens - and in Micheline's case, her analog SLR is her best weapon. With her camera she is able to exorcise ghosts by capturing the spiritual energy of the entities on film. She's assisted by her crew: Oliver, the tech genius who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict potential deaths; and Ryder, who tops the killboard at the academy. When a routine hunt goes awry, Micheline and her crew are infected with a soulchain, and if the ghost who infected them is not exorcised in seven days, they will die. Now pursued as rogue agents by Micheline's father and the rest of the Helsing Corps, they will have to track and destroy the most powerful ghost they've ever encountered or die trying.

The world building in Alameda's debut novel is top notch. The premise setting up the story is fantastic. To keep it short, the events of Bram Stoker's classic, Dracula are fact and the characters featured (plus others from other horror classics) created the Helsing Corps, a paramilitary organization of reapers that hunt the things that go bump in the night. Micheline is currently the top reaper and the end of the line of Helsings and her father fully expects her to marry well to preserve the line for future generations, just like he did. Our cast is also fantastic with Micheline leading the way. I'm very glad that each crew member got their own moment in the spotlight. While being super creepy and action-packed, this novel also carries quite an emotional punch, especially when it comes to exploring the relationships between Micheline and her family, as well as her crew.

I believe Shutter by Courtney Alameda will go down as one of my favorite reads of 2015. If you enjoy Dracula, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, City of Bones, Supernatural, and Ghostbusters, you will most likely enjoy this stand alone as much as I did. I knew when I starting reading that this would be a stand alone, but after finishing I would really like to return to this world. Needless to say, I will be watching Ms. Alameda like a hawk - I can't wait until the 2016 release of her next novel, Pitch Dark.

This review is also available on my blog.
March 15, 2015
{March 14th, 2015} *CUE SNAPSHOT WINK*

4.5 stars.

Ever wondered what the descendants of Van Helsing and the others of Bram Stoker's classic Dracula would be like?

This is Courtney Alameda's answer.

If I hadn't been watching Markiplier play Fatal Frame 2, I honestly wouldn't have drawn this parallel--only instead of the protagonists of the Fatal Frame series you get Micheline Helsing, our strong-willed, badassry of a heroine that combats ghosts with the Obscura along with her team: Ryder, Jude and Oliver.

The ghosts and creepy crawlies of this book are referred to Necros. Either via using weapons that the Reaper Corps uses, or via mirrors/cameras to trap and deal with these undead nuisances. The crew soon finds themselves in a life and death situation when one ghostbusting ritual goes horribly wrong but of course!

Now Micheline and the gang are on a tight deadline--exorcise their ghost or the curse claims them. The pacing is alright and the way the romance and the group bonds are a nice touch. you'd think 1 girl and 3 guys, there'd be a harem moment here, but nope And the way they depend on each other and look out for their teammates is undaunting.

Now I'd ramble on more but then I might trip into some possible spoilers...in fact I had to remove a few gifs because it could have hinted some things in this book (again, parallels, but BETTER).

Until next time! :D

Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
839 reviews377 followers
November 24, 2016
This was everything I've ever wanted and I'm so in love with this book.

"How many more rules will you break? How many lines will you cross? How intense will you be? I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answers anymore."

I love horror. I. Fucking. Love it. And this ladies, gents, and unicorns is some top notch horror. It's like Anna Dressed in Blood, The Ring, and Ghostbusters had a ménage à trois and birthed this beautiful YA debut.

It isn't pants-wettingly scary, but I find few things are. It is consistently creepy, oozing with dread. It's book crack. I intended to read just one more chapter before bed and read the whole second half of the book. The sleep deprivation was completely worth it.

And the characters. Oh, my darling Micheline. I was not prepared for her relationship with her father to hit me as hard as it did. I know better than I'd like how to love someone so much while hating them too.

I think N'Sync said it best when they crooned, "You're all I ever wanted. You're all I ever needed, yeah." Yes, Shutter I'm singing N'sync to you. Deal with it.
Profile Image for Chersti Nieveen.
37 reviews20 followers
February 10, 2014
I feel like I can't rave about this book enough and I'm so glad I got to read it early!

SHUTTER shows such polished writing, the plot so intensely creepifying with scenes that are completely shudder-worthy, that it's hard to believe this is Courtney Alameda's debut novel. Throw in a kick-ass heroine with her ghost-fighting camera and the super-hot Aussie, Ryder, and this is going to be one of the best books of 2015.

If it's dead and mobile, it's Helsing's problem--this story is horror in high gear.
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
435 reviews54 followers
May 7, 2020
Overall Rating : A

Wow. Just wow. It is so rare that you get a truly scary story that grips you in and makes you look over your shoulder. Ghouls, zombies, ghosts, the even a freaking scorpion made of dead people!?!😱 I was enchanted and disturbed.

Micheline was just the right amount of everything you needed in a main character, kicking ass, taking names, loving her friends. A tough relationship with her father after a horrific massacre close to home, she both admires and hates her father, creating a realistic friction that, over the course of the story, looks like they might be able to heal themselves. She kept a level head and was her own person. The love story didn't even bother me because, like they should be in these types of stories, it was not overshadowing the main plot and developed at the right pace.

Plot twists galore toward the end with an ambiguous ending making me hope another story is in the works.

Definitely read this people if you want to be scared, horrified and, at the same time, hopeful.
Profile Image for Ksenia.
788 reviews192 followers
October 12, 2015
I was legitimately creeped out during certain parts of the book (I'm looking at you, Page 172). This, to me, is the mark of a good book, since that type of reaction is rare for me. I appreciated how the author brought in elements from Dracula (which is a classic that I love) in a great fashion. A superb cast of characters, with great friendships even! Micheline is at once strong and feisty, but also vulnerable. Plus: ghost hunting! Horror! So much awesome stuff happening in this book. Go read it!
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