A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson- Feature and Review


A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of "Stranger Things" and "Stand by Me" about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls--a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place--Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the "Saturday Night Ghost Club." But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.



The Saturday Night Ghost ClubThe Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson is a 2019 Penguin Books publication.

A stirring and bittersweet coming of age story!

Jake is a bit different from other kids his age. But, he’s nowhere near as eccentric as his lovable Uncle Calvin. Calvin owns an occult shop and has a hotline for UFO sightings or other paranormal occurrences. Naturally, he knows all about the local ghostly legends. So, when Jake makes a couple of new friends, Calvin invites them to join his ‘Saturday Night Ghost Club”.

Jake feels like he’s a part of a special group and enjoys spending time with Calvin. However, there is an underlying sense of unease as one begins to suspect there is more to Calvin’s ghost stories than a few good thrills and chills.

Jake narrates this story, as an adult, reciting his adventures through the eye lens of his twelve- year old self. Jakes occupation often urges him to ponder the many mysteries of the mind, especially where our memories are concerned.

When it comes to horror or the paranormal, ghost stories, which I hope are making a comeback, are always a favorite of mine. I also love the local legends each town seems to have, and here in my neck of the woods we have one famous enough to make it into a few ghost -story books.

So, I thought this part of the story was fun, because I may have gone on a few paranormal investigations myself in the early eighties- although I was little older than Jake. We usually ended up scaring ourselves to death more than anything else. So, this story does stir up one’s feelings of nostalgia.

Niagara Falls, though I've never been there, seems like an awesome setting for this short story, creating just the right tone and atmosphere for a good ghost story, while exposing a darker, secret part of the location we don’t typically consider.

I think many people can recall that time in our youth when a part of us desperately wanted to hold onto the innocence of our childhood, while simultaneously longing to prove our maturity, to understand the unspoken and still hidden mysteries of adulthood. It’s a wistful feeling, saying goodbye to one’s childhood as we step over the threshold and take our first tentative steps towards adulthood.

Jake, who has already taken a few lumps in life, learns a bit sooner, and in a more personal way, just how dark the world can be. The summer of his twelfth year understandably stands out in Jake's memory- so much so it most assuredly propelled him towards his ultimate career choice, as he devotes his life to learning and correcting the vast mystery and complexities of the human brain.

His recollections are vivid, and his tone is as introspective as it is retrospective. Although sadness and helplessness lie just underneath the surface, Jake's fond sentimentality often creeps into his voice as his recollections surge to life.

Because I was unfamiliar with this author, I had to do a little research to see what else he may have written. I was very surprised to learn the author also writes under the name “Nick Cutter’. Looking at those books, it is obvious this story certainly is not his usual style. Just goes to show how versatile he can be and how far he could take his talent, if he chooses to.






Craig Davidson is a Canadian author of short stories and novels, who has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter

Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was raised in Calgary and St. Catharines.

His first short story collection, Rust and Bone, was published in September 2005 by Penguin Books Canada, and was a finalist for the 2006 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Stories in Rust and Bone have also been adapted into a play by Australian playwright Caleb Lewis and a film by French director Jacques Audiard.

Davidson also released a novel in 2007 named The Fighter. During the course of his research of the novel, Davidson went on a 16-week steroid cycle. To promote the release of the novel, Davidson participated in a fully sanctioned boxing match against Toronto poet Michael Knox at Florida Jack's Boxing Gym; for the novel's subsequent release in the United States, he organized a similar promotional boxing match against Jonathan Ames. Davidson lost both matches.

His 2013 novel Cataract City was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

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