Reviewed by Clifford Jongko
THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB
By Craig Davidson
224 pages. Penguin Books.
Coming-of-age stories set in the summer have that certain attraction that, no matter how often the setting seems to be used, it often ends up compelling. These stories also work in any medium: Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film My Neighbor Totoro, Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom, Stephen King’s novellas “Low Men in Yellow Coats” and “The Body,” to name a few. Different genres, different locales, yet begin with the same premise. If you love these stories, then there really is no need to read further: The Saturday Night Ghost Club is one book to add to your summer reading list.
Telling Ghost Stories
You’re reading this, so I assume I have, at the very least, piqued your interest. The Saturday Night Ghost Club, written by Rust and Bone author Craig Davidson, is narrated by present-day Jake Baker, recalling a summer he spent with his eccentric uncle Calvin as a young boy. Jake’s uncle is fond of the supernatural; what Fox Mulder would have been if he ran an occult-slash-gift shop in a quiet town in Niagara Falls. Uncle and nephew later meet brother and sister Billy and Dove Yellowbird, and together, they form the eponymous Ghost Club.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club is not about some kids telling ghost stories around a campfire. It’s about a group of kids (and a kid-at-heart) that went ghost hunting. As the leader, Uncle Calvin took the club to the places where hauntings purportedly happened. Physical artifacts, touchstones to what seemed like proof of the ghosts’ existence, lent truth to the tales. Whether it’s a tunnel, a body of water, or a burned-down house, they all seemed to be haunted by ghosts borne of real-life tragedies. They probably are.
Short and Sweet
At just a little over 200 pages, The Saturday Night Ghost Club does away with unnecessary side stories and plots, keeping it short and sweet like childhood summers often are. This is one of the strengths of the book: it’s a story about a boy spending an idyllic summer with his eccentric uncle and his newfound friends. The juxtaposition of adult Jake the brain surgeon against his younger self puts things into perspective, as the story neatly dovetails into a denouement that is, perhaps, not something you would expect.
Coming-of-age stories have a bittersweet quality to them because they’re snapshots of fleeting times; those moments that can’t be taken back. You can visit the places where it happened, meet the people you’ve spent those times with, but having grown up, all you can do now is long for those simpler days.
Worth a Repeat Read
I have to say that not many books are worth a repeat read. This is not the case with The Saturday Night Ghost Club. In fact, I just had to go back and revisit the story, this time with a different perspective. Ultimately, whether you’re a long time fan of coming-of-age stories—which I think deserves a genre of its own—or you simply want a good story that you can read during an idyllic summer weekend, then The Saturday Night Ghost Club deserves a place in your shelf.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club will soon be available at Fully Booked. Email us to reserve your copy in advance.
Clifford is a content writer, musician, and caffeine fiend who co-hosts comic book/graphic novel podcast Those Fcking Nerds (@thoseeffingnerds) on Facebook. He also used to play in the fields in his youth before he discovered comic books. Follow his comic book musings on Instagram (@tapsilogic) at your own peril.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]