Craig Davidson's new novel, The Saturday Night Ghost Club on a lazy Sunday morning and literally couldn't put it down until the last page was turned. Yup, that addicting.
Our protagonist is Jake Baker - we meet him as the adult neurosurgeon he is today and the young boy he was, living in Cataract City (aka Niagara Falls, Canada. In Latin, cataracta means waterfall), circa 1980. Jake is that odd kid out - overweight, shy with no real friends. He hangs out with his Uncle Cal, who owns the Occultorium on the tourist lined streets of the Falls. Cal believes in the otherworld, ghosts, conspiracy theories and more. When Billy Yellowbird moves into town, Jake has finally found a friend. And Cal has two members for his proposed Saturday Night Ghost Club.
"This city is haunted by ghosts. Uncle C used to say this, though not to scare me. He'd say it with a cocked eyebrow and an inscrutable smile, a merry jester beckoning me to embark on a grand adventure."
I could vividly picture the setting, having visited the Falls many times. The busy, congested, neon party that is Clifton Hill sprang to life. Davidson takes us behind those streets to the lives of the permanent residents of Cataract City. I appreciated the cultural references woven throughout the book....."We did what Canadian kids do on unbearably hot summer days: watched reruns of The Beachcombers and Danger Bay on the CBC..."
Initially there's a 'Stranger Things' feel to The Saturday Night Ghost Club - exploring the haunted landmarks and sites of the Falls. That's the setting, but the story is much more than that. Friendship, love, family, coming of age - and memory. "The brain is the seat of memory, and memory is a tricky thing."
Davidson is a one heck of a storyteller. His prose flow so easily and draw the reader into the world he's created. His characters leap to life and will break your heart. Those last fifty pages? So very, very good. And once you've turned that last page, head back to that first chapter again. You'll look at it with different eyes. An absolutely wonderful read. Here's an excerpt of The Saturday Night Ghost Club.