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Prelude for Lost Souls

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For readers of Nova Ren Suma, Maggie Steifvater, and Maureen Johnson comes a spellbinding tale about choosing your own path, the families we create for ourselves, and facing the ghosts of your past. In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by For readers of Nova Ren Suma, Maggie Steifvater, and Maureen Johnson comes a spellbinding tale about choosing your own path, the families we create for ourselves, and facing the ghosts of your past. In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by The Guild, a sinister ruling body that sees everything.Dec Hampton has lived there his entire life, but ever since his parents died, he's been done with it. He knows he has to leave before anyone has a chance to stop him.His best friend Russ won't be surprised when Dec leaves—but he will be heartbroken. Russ is a good medium, maybe even a great one. He's made sacrifices for his gift and will do whatever he can to gain entry to The Guild, even embracing dark forces and contacting the most elusive ghost in town.But when the train of Annie Krylova, the piano prodigy whose music has been Dec's main source of solace, breaks down outside of town, it sets off an unexpected chain of events. And in St. Hilaire, there are no such things as coincidences.


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For readers of Nova Ren Suma, Maggie Steifvater, and Maureen Johnson comes a spellbinding tale about choosing your own path, the families we create for ourselves, and facing the ghosts of your past. In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by For readers of Nova Ren Suma, Maggie Steifvater, and Maureen Johnson comes a spellbinding tale about choosing your own path, the families we create for ourselves, and facing the ghosts of your past. In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by The Guild, a sinister ruling body that sees everything.Dec Hampton has lived there his entire life, but ever since his parents died, he's been done with it. He knows he has to leave before anyone has a chance to stop him.His best friend Russ won't be surprised when Dec leaves—but he will be heartbroken. Russ is a good medium, maybe even a great one. He's made sacrifices for his gift and will do whatever he can to gain entry to The Guild, even embracing dark forces and contacting the most elusive ghost in town.But when the train of Annie Krylova, the piano prodigy whose music has been Dec's main source of solace, breaks down outside of town, it sets off an unexpected chain of events. And in St. Hilaire, there are no such things as coincidences.

30 review for Prelude for Lost Souls

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Wow! It’s an impressive start and refreshing brand new installment! A town filled with its own spiritualist citizens, a mystery behind lost prelude of the song, a special, sacred community called Guild! Intriguing plot, tempting paranormal world building, well-balanced representation of LGBTQ! Yes, it seems like, I’m into this! I have no choice. Have you seen the hypnotizing cover? It just sent me so messages into my brain cells to read the chapters ASAP! The story starts with 17 years old, Dec H Wow! It’s an impressive start and refreshing brand new installment! A town filled with its own spiritualist citizens, a mystery behind lost prelude of the song, a special, sacred community called Guild! Intriguing plot, tempting paranormal world building, well-balanced representation of LGBTQ! Yes, it seems like, I’m into this! I have no choice. Have you seen the hypnotizing cover? It just sent me so messages into my brain cells to read the chapters ASAP! The story starts with 17 years old, Dec Hampton’s moving to St. Hilarie to live with his sisters after his parents’ death at the accident. A town belongs to the spiritualists as like his family. But he rejects his talents and his ancestors. He doesn’t want to do anything with ghosts, spirits and he only focuses on his graduation from high school to get the hell out of the town ASAP! But he finds himself being drafted by town’s divine functioning body called “Guild”. He needs a way out ASAP! But when his longtime crush piano prodigy Annie Krylova’s coincidental arrival (her train just broke down outside of the town but should we believe this explanation which brings them together.) and her need to find the lost prelude of mysterious music piece to honor her teacher’s memory make them merge their powers to achieve this challenging ,mostly impossible task. But this means he has to spend his more time at this town and fix his stranded relationship with his best friend Russ who is not happy to see Annie and Dec’s intimacy. And let’s not forget the sweet Russ Griffin who wants to make Guild a better place, ruining his relationship with his mother by deciding to move to St. Hilarie. Now he needs to face with his own demons including his ex lover Ian Mackenzie’s ghost. (I think I loved their relationship parts more than Annie and Dec’s unnamed relation- they had lots of untold words bottled up, I wanted to scream at them and force them to communicate each other.) The beginning of the story was intriguing but second half was a little bit repetitive and slow which made me lose interest. And I couldn’t love Annie and Dec’s parts and I couldn’t connect with the characters but luckily I enjoyed Russ’s storyline and let’s not forget Tristan which was amazing, intriguing, captivating character helped me not to put this book on my dnf pile. And ending was also interesting and it made me want to keep on reading this story’s continuation. This is my first Helene Dunbar novel but I assure you it won’t be the last. I liked the writing style and creative storyline. Special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire to share this dazzling ARC with me in exchange my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    I think I'm already hypnotized by this beautiful cover. I want to keep looking at it! I want to put it in my bathroom mirror so instead of screaming to my morning appearance at every morning, I can start a brand new, beautiful day!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    booksnpenguins

    I need this book in my life

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Oh man, my heart! Every year I seem to find one book that takes me by surprise with how deeply it worms its way into my heart. It's usually a book that, while I knew, (or at least hoped!), I'd enjoy, by the end I realize I never saw it coming. Hello 2020, meet Prelude for Lost Souls. There's magic and mystery, angst and heartache, found family and unbreakable friendships. And there were tears that I was absolutely not prepared for. While things were a little slow to start, I soon found myself ca Oh man, my heart! Every year I seem to find one book that takes me by surprise with how deeply it worms its way into my heart. It's usually a book that, while I knew, (or at least hoped!), I'd enjoy, by the end I realize I never saw it coming. Hello 2020, meet Prelude for Lost Souls. There's magic and mystery, angst and heartache, found family and unbreakable friendships. And there were tears that I was absolutely not prepared for. While things were a little slow to start, I soon found myself captivated by the world Ms. Dunbar created in St. Hilaire, and I am in desperate need of book 2. Though Prelude for Lost Souls wrapped up parts of the story, I feel like there is so much more to come and I can't wait to see where Ms. Dunbar takes us.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Helene

    Release Date: August 4, 2020 PRELUDE FOR LOST SOULS is my first foray into YA paranormal (although it reads like a contemporary just, you know, with ghosts). Set in a town of spiritualists where the main industry is communicating with the dead for profit, it’s told in three points of view: - Dec Hampton: member of one of the most powerful medium families in town, he wants nothing more than to escape the expectations of the town that he blames for the death of his parents and needs to leave before Release Date: August 4, 2020 PRELUDE FOR LOST SOULS is my first foray into YA paranormal (although it reads like a contemporary just, you know, with ghosts). Set in a town of spiritualists where the main industry is communicating with the dead for profit, it’s told in three points of view: - Dec Hampton: member of one of the most powerful medium families in town, he wants nothing more than to escape the expectations of the town that he blames for the death of his parents and needs to leave before his senior year in high school when he’ll be drafted into the Guild, the town’s creepy ruling body. - Russ Griffin: Dec’s best friend who has sacrificed everything including his relationship with his mother in order to move to St. Hilaire, the one place where he feels understood and isn’t mocked for being able to speak to ghosts. But Russ’s need to join the Guild has strained his relationship with Dec and driven him to do whatever it takes to prove himself, including courting dangerous forces and the most elusive ghost in town, that of his ex, Ian Mackenzie. - Annie Krylova – A young piano prodigy whose music is Dec’s biggest comfort. She ends up in town by coincidence, although in St. Hilaire there are no coincidences and her unexpected arrival will change everything. Prelude is a book about redefined friendships, found families, music, and wrestling with expectations – your own and those placed upon you. It features two very different love stories, a haunted piano, and one of the characters I enjoyed writing the most (I’ll let you guess which one).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    **3.5 Stars** This is one that on paper I should have adored without a second thought but in reality it was a bit of a struggle to stay focused up until the ending so though it wasn’t one that thrilled me it is the beginning of a series I plan on completing. “Prelude for Lost Souls” shifts between the point of view for Dec, a young man who is tired of his small town and is waiting for the right time to run, Russ, Dec’s best friend who is willing to do whatever it takes to join the Guild and prove **3.5 Stars** This is one that on paper I should have adored without a second thought but in reality it was a bit of a struggle to stay focused up until the ending so though it wasn’t one that thrilled me it is the beginning of a series I plan on completing. “Prelude for Lost Souls” shifts between the point of view for Dec, a young man who is tired of his small town and is waiting for the right time to run, Russ, Dec’s best friend who is willing to do whatever it takes to join the Guild and prove his worth as a medium and finally Annie, a prodigy looking to solve the mystery behind the lost prelude and make her late teacher proud. I understand what this book was trying to do with the duel plots where one was meant to throw these characters together and the other is meant to tear them apart however I think the orchestration of it could have been handled better because it seemed almost like an after thought to have the eye in the sky like threat as I had spent so much time getting into the mystery of the music to remember that the Guild was being set up as a society to fear. I guess you could argue that that’s the point but I feel like for the confrontation scenes to work it could have leaned into plot points that were less subtle. I really loved what Dec and Russ could have been and we get pieces of that sprinkled here and there when it comes to their friendship but then there are long spans where it seems like one takes more than he gives and made me root for one to find someone better because they were always doing so much with little appreciation but I realize, or at least hope, that that will come around in future books as one sinks deeper into the darkness and the other realizes that his freedom may really be a long leash. Annie was okay I feel like she really only served the purpose of being the hands for someone who could no longer play and leading someone else out the door but I’m hoping we get to learn more about her so she becomes a fully realized character. Overall this isn’t bad but I think with a cover and synopsis like this I expected to be blown away but instead its more of a light breeze. **special thanks to the publishers and netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**

  7. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler I think I touched upon this in my review of Dunbar’s previous release We Are Lost and Found, but this woman just excels at writing settings that make you feel you’ve been there before. This time around, Dunbar takes her readers on an exploration of a small town called St. Hilaire where mediums, ghosts, and tarot-reading teenagers are found at every street corner. And while reading the novel, I could picture everything, from Dec’s hou Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler I think I touched upon this in my review of Dunbar’s previous release We Are Lost and Found, but this woman just excels at writing settings that make you feel you’ve been there before. This time around, Dunbar takes her readers on an exploration of a small town called St. Hilaire where mediums, ghosts, and tarot-reading teenagers are found at every street corner. And while reading the novel, I could picture everything, from Dec’s house to Annie arriving on the train. It brought with it the sense of dread and feeling lost that comes with living in a town entirely too focused on death, especially when tourist season brings a swing of people wanting to contact the gone and forgotten. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jypsy

    I received a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Prelude For Lost Souls By: Helene Dunbar REVIEW ☆☆☆☆ I love the cover of Prelude For Lost Souls. It's awesome. The premise is so unique and compelling, and I knew I had to read this book. It was just as fascinating as I anticipated. "One need not be a chamber to be haunted." -Emily Dickinson This quote is at the front of the book, and it's perfect for it. People, of course, can be and are haunted I received a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Prelude For Lost Souls By: Helene Dunbar REVIEW ☆☆☆☆ I love the cover of Prelude For Lost Souls. It's awesome. The premise is so unique and compelling, and I knew I had to read this book. It was just as fascinating as I anticipated. "One need not be a chamber to be haunted." -Emily Dickinson This quote is at the front of the book, and it's perfect for it. People, of course, can be and are haunted by many things that have nothing to do with ghosts. In the town of St. Hilaire, the majority of its 367 residents are registered mediums, it's a requirement to live there, and are overseen by an elitist town council known as the Guild. Every summer, the town opens to tourists (customers) seeking to talk to the dead. This doesn't seem right to me. Preying on grief, despair and guilt? Not cool. Three characters tell the story. Dec can't wait to graduate and leave this place. His best friend, Russ, is intent on staying. Annie is a concert pianist whose train breaks down here. All three are dealing with some type of grief and anger. I won't spoil it with details. But, Annie ending up in St. Hilaire could be a coincidence, if there even is such a thing as a coincidence. The story is atmospherically dark, mysterious and haunting. Secrets are here and waiting to be discovered. The powerful overly ambitious Guild are dangerous, perhaps more so than the dead. The author cleverly weaves the different strands together, and the result is a mesmerizing story unlike anything else you have read. And, Prelude For Lost Souls is ideal for the spooky season!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexis (The Book Democracy)

    3/5 stars I'm going to start off by saying this book fell a little flat for me, however, that is on me. I couldn't completely connect with the characters and the story. I enjoyed the idea and really liked the musical aspect of this book. I honestly thought this was going to go darker than it actually did. I would recommend giving this a try, I can see someone really loving this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cyra M

    I read this in 24 hours, it was a delight. Captivating characters and setting, I can't wait for the next installment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I loved this unusual atmospheric novel from the very first line. The setting and Dunbar's talent for snappy dialogue make this extra-special. Also, the book is so well-designed. It feels nice, and has the best endpapers!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    " You loved the Prelude, so therefore, I've been loved too." I cried through most of this book,really, but this line is where I really lost it and decided that this belongs on my favorites shelf. But lets start from the beginning. I think that one of this books big strengths is that, it isnt really a fantasy story like it seemed, this is more a story about grief, and coming to terms with the things you either can't change, or just simply wont find the right answers to. Yes, this does take place i " You loved the Prelude, so therefore, I've been loved too." I cried through most of this book,really, but this line is where I really lost it and decided that this belongs on my favorites shelf. But lets start from the beginning. I think that one of this books big strengths is that, it isnt really a fantasy story like it seemed, this is more a story about grief, and coming to terms with the things you either can't change, or just simply wont find the right answers to. Yes, this does take place in a society where an oppressive, controlling government is at play , but while The Guild is a plotpoint, its in the backseat to the main plot, and I think that that works really well. Another thing I really enjoyed, was the relationship between Dec and Russ. They are best friends who would do anything for eachother, except possibly, changing their goals. Dec needs to leave, Russ needs to stay. They both know that fudamentally they need different things, and while that makes things sad and complicated, that love and devotion between them is always evident. I also loved that Annie is struggling with what to do with her life, when her teacher/guardian kills himself and leaves her behind. This is a man shes spent most of her life with, and without him, she isnt sure if this is a life she wants anymore, or how to even make it work. Her story with The Lost Prelude and making her mentor proud, were some of the most emotional bits of the book, and my favorite. I cried a lot where she was involved, especially when Tristan was there. I love him. Maybe we'll see Tristan later in the series again. I would love that. The ending of the book felt perfect for all of the characters, even Ian and Tristan,and though there are a lot of sequel hooks, and a confirmed sequel, this could absolutly be read as a stand alone if you so wish. This was a quick and esay read for me. This is one of my new favorites, and I cannot wait to read more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    WS_BOOKCLUB

    Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available for purchase now. I am not entirely sure why, but this book just wasn’t my bag. I just couldn’t get into it at all. It could be the way it’s told. It switches back and forth between multiple narrators, which normally doesn’t bother me all that much. In this case, though, I really didn’t care at all about two of the characters, so their chapters didn’t keep me engaged. The idea of a town Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available for purchase now. I am not entirely sure why, but this book just wasn’t my bag. I just couldn’t get into it at all. It could be the way it’s told. It switches back and forth between multiple narrators, which normally doesn’t bother me all that much. In this case, though, I really didn’t care at all about two of the characters, so their chapters didn’t keep me engaged. The idea of a town with sort of a cult feel to it has loads of potential. You could take it in a dark direction, or just keep it fun. However, despite being mentioned very early on, The Guild (which basically runs the town) didn’t really make its presence known in a way that lived up to the reputation the author had created for it. I was just expecting more. I thought Russ was a fascinating character. The lengths he was willing to go to in order to be the best…zoinks, yo! I didn’t really understand his friendship with Dec, possibly because it was already falling apart when the book started. He and Dec wanted fundamentally different things, and they struggled to accept that. It was kind of a bummer, but it definitely added to the story. Dec and Annie just weren’t all that interesting. Annie, unfortunately, didn’t seem to add all that much to the narrative. I really can’t put my finger on why I wasn’t a big fan of Dec. I should have liked him and I have no idea why I was less than thrilled by the chapters he narrated. That just happens sometimes. As I write this, I realize this is a pretty negative review, so let me hasten to add: I didn’t hate the book. The plot is unique, there is a ton of potential for the continuing story, and Russ was a complicated character (I love complicated characters!). When it comes right down to it, this wasn’t the right book for me. Everything that felt a little off to me might be exactly what would make someone else absolutely love this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Vossen

    This book is perfect for fans of The Raven Boys who need a little more psychic in their life. Did I stay up all night finishing this book? Yes I did. It was a fun story with the start of some good characters. I probably would give it a 3.5 stars if that was an option, better than average but not mind blowing. The story some times felt like you were missing chunks of the character but admittedly I’m very character focused. It wasn’t detrimental to the story but it is something I missed having. Th This book is perfect for fans of The Raven Boys who need a little more psychic in their life. Did I stay up all night finishing this book? Yes I did. It was a fun story with the start of some good characters. I probably would give it a 3.5 stars if that was an option, better than average but not mind blowing. The story some times felt like you were missing chunks of the character but admittedly I’m very character focused. It wasn’t detrimental to the story but it is something I missed having. This is also what appears to be the first book in the series and that means that they are trying to give you as much backstory as they can for future books, sometimes at sacrificing that page space they would have fleshed out other characters. Again, definitely a good read, and the book itself holy cow, stunning! Plus it is printed directly on the hardcover, no dust jacket. I’m in love and wish all hardcovers were like that!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dominic

    I enjoyed this YA ghost story because Dunbar is such a good writer. On a sentence level, Prelude for Lost Souls is first rate, and the characters are likable as well. This follow-up is so different from last year's We Are Lost and Found, a historical fiction novel set turning the AIDS epidemic that I LOVED, and I couldn't make up my mind about what I should have expected from it. It turns out I was hoping for more Gothic flair and more narration from Russ' perspective. Prelude could have been cre I enjoyed this YA ghost story because Dunbar is such a good writer. On a sentence level, Prelude for Lost Souls is first rate, and the characters are likable as well. This follow-up is so different from last year's We Are Lost and Found, a historical fiction novel set turning the AIDS epidemic that I LOVED, and I couldn't make up my mind about what I should have expected from it. It turns out I was hoping for more Gothic flair and more narration from Russ' perspective. Prelude could have been creepier, even in the way Brontë does it in Jane Eyre. Dunbar does a nice job of creating the town of St. Hilaire—a tourist spot featuring the best mediums and psychics around. And fans of Gothic novels will enjoy the ambiance and appreciate the careful plotting. It was a fun read overall!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Tower

    Great book! I know Helene, and we're discussing if this one would be my favorite. I am happy to declare it is, but that may be more about my love of ghost stories and not a true comparison to her other excellent novels. Those who love ghost stories: this is not your typical ghost story. What is it? Great character-driven story on multiple fronts with ghosts who outshine the living persons in characterization. There's some intriguing mystery that will keep you reading as well. I have a few criticism Great book! I know Helene, and we're discussing if this one would be my favorite. I am happy to declare it is, but that may be more about my love of ghost stories and not a true comparison to her other excellent novels. Those who love ghost stories: this is not your typical ghost story. What is it? Great character-driven story on multiple fronts with ghosts who outshine the living persons in characterization. There's some intriguing mystery that will keep you reading as well. I have a few criticisms, but they are minor and would cause spoilers, so I am not sharing them here. If I do a longer review on my blog, then I will share the address here: Read this!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Chassen

    Helene Dunbar has done it again. I absolutely adore her writing. Even while writing a book about a town full of paranormal activity, she is able to focus in on the human stories an the individual relationships that make everything real. She writes about LGBTQ relationships with incredible accuracy, and imbues her characters with strength and compassion. This a big difference from We Are Lost and Found, but the writing and the storytelling is still top notch. I highly recommend for any fans or an Helene Dunbar has done it again. I absolutely adore her writing. Even while writing a book about a town full of paranormal activity, she is able to focus in on the human stories an the individual relationships that make everything real. She writes about LGBTQ relationships with incredible accuracy, and imbues her characters with strength and compassion. This a big difference from We Are Lost and Found, but the writing and the storytelling is still top notch. I highly recommend for any fans or anyone who has a particular interest in mediums and the paranormal, told through a YA lens.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Golley

    it was.... fine.... there was no real plot, but slow story progression with a mediocre ending, where nothing felt truly resolved. the characters were very uninspiring and unmemorable... which is disappointing because it had me interested in the beginning. there were also a large proportion of typos and general errors that it was jarring? it really shook me out of the story... like typos are fine but there were sooo many in this book??????? I guess overall..... whatever

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kal ★ Reader Voracious

    I'd like to file a report against every one I know for not telling me about this book sooner. If this book sounds up your alley, the author is hosting an international giveaway on Twitter through 10/21/2020!Blog | Twitter | Pinterest I'd like to file a report against every one I know for not telling me about this book sooner. If this book sounds up your alley, the author is hosting an international giveaway on Twitter through 10/21/2020!Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    I received a net galley arc in exchange for an honest review. I am such a huge Helene Dunbar fan! I knew I needed to read this book just from the author. I did quite enjoy it but it wasn’t my favourite of her books, if I’m being honest. I really liked the premise of a town full of mediums and the musical aspect was super intriguing. I just couldn’t fully connect with the story. I do feel that it will be well loved by others, though!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I’d give this a 3.5 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    A n n i e ⚔ | Mustachio Mozart

    Reasons for wanting to read this: 1. There's a person with my name in it and she can play the piano really well 2. Pretty title

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I went through stages of liking this book, loving it and now it has become my new obsession. I just can’t stop thinking about these amazing characters❤️❤️ It gave me Devouring Gray vibes but better. Also I need to stop falling in love with fictional ghost boys

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sun Goddess Moon Witch

    A very ho-hum coming of age supernatural story that lacked depth. I was originally drawn to this story because of the infinite possibilities of a “psychic town.” Unfortunately, this read was a disappointment both with the fantasy elements of the plot and the character development. Rather than have the book squarely focus on Dec Hampton the point of views consists of Dec, his best friend Russ, and Russian piano prodigy Annie. It really distracted me from getting attached to the characters as some A very ho-hum coming of age supernatural story that lacked depth. I was originally drawn to this story because of the infinite possibilities of a “psychic town.” Unfortunately, this read was a disappointment both with the fantasy elements of the plot and the character development. Rather than have the book squarely focus on Dec Hampton the point of views consists of Dec, his best friend Russ, and Russian piano prodigy Annie. It really distracted me from getting attached to the characters as sometimes the shifting POV’s were not distinct enough. The story starts with a very “been there done that” feeling from seventeen year old Dec. It made the town feel gimmicky instead of interesting. Also, while reading there was never a feeling of urgency or overwhelming fear that things would not work out for the characters. Everything from their gambling adventures to Annie’s missing music just works out when it needs to. I had a lot of issues with this story. First, St. Hilaire is gothically atmospheric but lacking in overall development. For instance, the town closes to tourists once the summer season is over. This is when the story starts which prevents the story from having interesting conversations or situations with many non-community members. As the story continues to treat any mention of outsiders as burdensome clueless guests. Yet, Annie is the exception because the plot requires her to be there. Second, the menacing threat that was The Guild was not fully fleshed out or bought to the surface. So, what was the point of having them rule over the community? Third, it also bothered me that the whole Tristan ghost plot was even a thing. In a town full of paranormal activity this should not have been a major component to the plot. Seeing supernatural people should not be a unique experience for anyone in this town no matter how it is rationalized in the book. This book is a quick easy read filled with angst and themes of family, relationships, and loss. Adults take a backseat in this story altogether or are only vaguely mentioned in passing. I felt like all the main characters were in different states of grieving. Everyone had experienced death and as a result lost something important to them. They needed help coming to terms with this and you read about their life choices and the resulting consequences. I read somewhere that this is going to be a series and I’m not sure why. I wish the author would have fleshed out Dec and given him his own narrative to make a more well-rounded and complete story. This book by itself was not compelling enough and suffered from too many characters and a Scooby-Doo type mystery.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sabrien Abdelrahman

    Check out my review for Prelude for Lost Souls over at The Young Folks! Check out my review for Prelude for Lost Souls over at The Young Folks!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    Prelude for Lost Souls By Helene Dunbar Summary Dec and Russ live in St. Hilaire, a town known for its ability to communicate with the dead. Russ needs a little boost when it comes to this particular skill, and Dec would rather not have it at all. In fact, Dec would rather not live there. Annie is a well known pianist mourning the recent loss of her teacher when her train breaks down outside of St. Hilaire. She finds herself staying at Dec’s home with his two sisters. Together, the three will discov Prelude for Lost Souls By Helene Dunbar Summary Dec and Russ live in St. Hilaire, a town known for its ability to communicate with the dead. Russ needs a little boost when it comes to this particular skill, and Dec would rather not have it at all. In fact, Dec would rather not live there. Annie is a well known pianist mourning the recent loss of her teacher when her train breaks down outside of St. Hilaire. She finds herself staying at Dec’s home with his two sisters. Together, the three will discover the secret of a recently dead Ian Mackenzie and the secret of Dec’s piano. Thoughts I thought the plot was beautifully crafted; I really enjoyed the pairing of mediums and music. I really loved the mystery of it all. I also loved that there were several mysteries that were all intertwined. I felt like I was still left wanting answers, but also that everything was wrapped up nicely (definitely a strange combination that I have respect for). I can’t say that I was well attached to any of the characters. They all had pretty annoying character flaws (I fully appreciate those authors who know that all characters need to have a flaw!). Regardless of the fact that I was annoyed by the main characters, I was far more annoyed with the secondary characters who were too obsessed with their own greed. At least the main characters had their moral compasses pointing in a mostly correct direction. Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced reading copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Starr ❇✌❇

    3 In St. Hilaire everyone is either a psychic or married into a psychic family. A tourist trap during the summer and a completely insular community the rest of the year, it feels less like part of the world than a world inside of itself. Dec especially feels that way, a seventeen year old "former" psychic, who wants nothing more than to leave town before his senior year, when he'll be forced to join the Guild. But when Anna, a Russian pianist Dec has been captivated by online, finds herself in St 3 In St. Hilaire everyone is either a psychic or married into a psychic family. A tourist trap during the summer and a completely insular community the rest of the year, it feels less like part of the world than a world inside of itself. Dec especially feels that way, a seventeen year old "former" psychic, who wants nothing more than to leave town before his senior year, when he'll be forced to join the Guild. But when Anna, a Russian pianist Dec has been captivated by online, finds herself in St. Hilaire right as summer winds down, Dec knows he has to do whatever he can to help her get what she's looking for. Even if that means he can't up and run. Even if it involves the only ghost that only he can see, one he'd sworn to stop talking about. Even if it might have something to do with the accident that he can't remember, the one that killed his parents. The idea of a psychic town and a magical, musical riddle are both really intriguing. Just in concept this is a really interesting story. The idea of a beautiful piece of music with no known ending or composer ensnared me, and made me want to know where the mystery ends. My favorite character in this entire book wound up being Russ, who has the least to do with that particular part of the story. Russ instead is only ever pulled into that arc not exactly against his will, but certainly not because it has anything to do with him or his interests. Russ' motivation is directly opposite to Dec's- where Dec wants to get away, not be a psychic, and win over Anna, Russ wants to change the town for the better, become a powerful enough psychic to win a place in the Guild, and, maybe, win over Dec. The differences between them are obvious and direct, but not in a way that's jarring or conflicts with their obvious relationship. As a whole I do like how Dec and Russ operate as a unit, the implied past between them and the priority positions they hold in each other's lives, though Russ always comes out on top for me because he is 100% more open and patient with Dec's issues than Dec is with his. I mean, Russ isn't happy about Dec wanting to leave, and isn't happy about his clear crush on Anna, but he doesn't do anything to try to start a fight with him about it. Dec can't keep his mouth shut over anything he even slightly dislikes, even for the sake of his best friend. Tristan is my second favorite character, and the parts of the book that involved him were easily the parts I enjoyed the most. Tristan has a magical, anachronistic charm that make the mystery of him even more compelling. Even when the story slowed down for me, I read for Tristan. His character adds variety and dimension to the story, and the mystery of him truly is capable of completely sucking you in. However, I had problems reading this story, mostly revolving around the fact that I didn't care about Dec or Anna, and most definitely didn't care about them together. All you learn about Anna is through info dumping, and all you learn about Dec is from Dec being a generally not great friend or brother. Dec is controlling, self-absorbed, and seems to have issues communicating, and Anna is just fairly flat. I think the miscommunication between them was meant to lend tension to their eventual romance but instead is made me weary and actually consider skipping any chapter involving it. A lot of this story just felt unbelievable, as well. The quest Anna is on in the first place, Dec knowing Anna, and, I know this isn't important in the over all context but there is a scene where Anna is in a stranger's room, grabs his tarot deck without asking, pulls a card and asks him to read it, and people I yelled. It's moments like that where you go "I don't trust this author!" and also, "I really don't like Anna, keep her away from Russ" (if you're me). I think a lot of trust is assumed when it needed to be earned, and it was never earned. Finally, there is plenty of toxicity in this book that's unresolved. There's a point where someone laughs at the idea of someone's dad beating them. There's some weird stuff implied about Russ' relationship with Ian. There's, well, there's the drugs. To the Ian part, first, I'd like to say that I actually do like their relationship. I liked how it was written, I liked their dynamic, and I liked getting to hear the past after the fact and learning more about who Russ actually is, and seeing someone who appreciates who that is. I'm jut concerned that there's problems there that we aren't totally privvy to, but it's hard to tell how much of that is Dec's disapproval and Ian being rebellious and careless. But onto the drugs- I cannot believe this drug abuse arc. I can't say that it's never touted as the wrong thing to do, but my God it's never solved, or talked out. The arc actually seemed closer to Russ becoming okay with his reliance on drugs instead of him taking control and getting himself away from the drug addiction. It's extremely worrying! I wish there had been more coming from Russ, on why he needed to stop. Or even if it had ended with Ian stopping him, and Russ' idea that he'd just continue in the future secretly hadn't been included at all. This wasn't really a book I enjoyed reading, and little compelled me to read it besides my interest in Tristan's side of the story. I liked the concept behind this work, but the execution especially in the way of characters, left me disappointed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    **ORIGINALLY POSTED ON IDEALLY INSPIRED REVIEWS** I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. St. Hilaire is a small town in New York filled with people who make their living by talking to the dead. During the summers, the town opens its gates to the public and tourists searching for answers or salvation. In this town, things don’t simply happen. When Russian piano prodigy Anastasia Kryl **ORIGINALLY POSTED ON IDEALLY INSPIRED REVIEWS** I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. St. Hilaire is a small town in New York filled with people who make their living by talking to the dead. During the summers, the town opens its gates to the public and tourists searching for answers or salvation. In this town, things don’t simply happen. When Russian piano prodigy Anastasia Krylova unexpectedly stumbles into town at the end of the tourist season, it’s more than a coincidence. I’m usually wary of picking up these kinds of stories because, in my experience, I either love them or I don’t like them at all. Still, something about Helen Dunbar’s Prelude of Lost Souls intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try. The idea behind the story itself is great. I really liked the idea of this diverse set of characters coming together for this sort of higher purpose while fighting the corrupt authority in town, accompanied by the spirits of their ancestors (at least that’s what I imagined when I read the synopsis). Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. I had a hard time finding into the story and struggled even more with connecting to the characters. Five chapters in, I was already praying for things to finally happen. I was hopeful that things would get better once Annie arrived in St. Hilaire, but that, unfortunately, wasn’t the case. We have this exciting story and secrets and dead people trying to help from the other side for God’s sake, but instead of fast-paced, thrilling dark fantasy book vibes, I got mild contained curiosity. While I appreciated the multiple points of view in this one, I sometimes had trouble following the events because the perspectives change so frequently and suddenly. At times I missed it and was like, wait a minute that can’t be Annie anymore. And that only shows me that I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been. The most interesting character for me was the best friend, Russ. He’s sort at the center of the story more than the two main characters as he’s the one primarily uncovering the secrets and the circumstances leading to Dec’s parents’ death. Towards the end, things got a bit more interesting, and there’s sort of an introduction to the sequel that tells you there’s going to be more. So, the action part of the whole thing is probably in there, hopefully. I will definitely check out the sequel because I’m curious about Russ’ further development and his story, but this first book wasn’t quite my cup of tea. The story has a lot of potential and I hope it sequel will live up to that more than the first one did.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Meulen Ellison

    Coming out August 1, 2020 - Daniel "Dec" Hampton has had enough of the small town where he lives with his sisters after the death of their parents. Not only does he and his family have the power to talk to the dead, he lives in an entire village of people who can as well. St. Hilaire is a town of spiritualists, who open the gates every summer and run seances and palm readings for the public. It is loosely based on the real life town of Lily Dale, New York. Dec is going into his senior year and i Coming out August 1, 2020 - Daniel "Dec" Hampton has had enough of the small town where he lives with his sisters after the death of their parents. Not only does he and his family have the power to talk to the dead, he lives in an entire village of people who can as well. St. Hilaire is a town of spiritualists, who open the gates every summer and run seances and palm readings for the public. It is loosely based on the real life town of Lily Dale, New York. Dec is going into his senior year and is being recruited to join the youth wing of the town's guild on the strength of his family's bloodlines. He has no interest in doing so. His plans are to leave town before the school year even starts. His best friend, Russ, however, is all in. He has been experimenting with shooting up his grandmother's herbal potions in an effort to increase his spiritual power. He is really hoping that the Guild will take notice. The story gets going after Dec manages to lose his family's antique piano in a poker game. They play for high stakes in St. Hilaire. He had been hoping to win the keys to a Mustang for his friend Russ. The piano refuses to move when the new owners try to take possession. And then Dec's dream girl Anastasia "Annie" Krylova, a classically trained pianist touring the country, shows up on his doorstep after her vintage train breaks down. They've never met before but he has her picture taped up on the inside of his closet door. Too much of a coincidence? Not when you realize that Annie is seeking the end to an unfinished piece of music and the piano in Dec's house might have something to do with it. This book is similar to The Raven Boys and readers of Maggie Stievater should be very satisfied with this one. Strong, brooding guys searching for something mysterious in small town America with the dead being either helpful or unhelpful (and occasionally comical) as needed to keep the plot going. This is the first in the series. The author left plenty of unfinished business in St. Hilare. Merged review: Daniel "Dec" Hampton has had enough of the small town where he lives with his sisters after the death of their parents. Not only does he and his family have the power to talk to the dead, he lives in an entire village of people who can as well. St. Hilaire is a town of spiritualists, who open the gates every summer and run seances and palm readings for the public. It is loosely based on the real life town of Lily Dale, New York. Dec is going into his senior year and is being recruited to join the youth wing of the town's guild on the strength of his family's bloodlines. He has no interest in doing so. His plans are to leave town before the school year even starts. His best friend, Russ, however, is all in. He has been experimenting with shooting up his grandmother's herbal potions in an effort to increase his spiritual power. He is really hoping that the Guild will take notice. The story gets going after Dec manages to lose his family's antique piano in a poker game. They play for high stakes in St. Hilaire. He had been hoping to win the keys to a Mustang for his friend Russ. The piano refuses to move when the new owners try to take possession. And then Dec's dream girl Anastasia "Annie" Krylova, a classically trained pianist touring the country, shows up on his doorstep after her vintage train breaks down. They've never met before but he has her picture taped up on the inside of his closet door. Too much of a coincidence? Not when you realize that Annie is seeking the end to an unfinished piece of music and the piano in Dec's house might have something to do with it. This book is similar to The Raven Boys and readers of Maggie Stievater should be very satisfied with this one. Strong, brooding guys searching for something mysterious in small town America with the dead being either helpful or unhelpful (and occasionally comical) as needed to keep the plot going. This is the first in the series. The author left plenty of unfinished business in St. Hilare.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brandy {The Review Booth}

    Prelude for Lost Souls was such a fun, interesting read, and I fell in love with the cover.  The town of St. Hilaire sounds so interesting and cultish all at the same time - like a paranormal Pleasantville almost. If it actually existed I would probably be drawn to its quirkiness rather than the want to commune with someone who was dead. I found some of the rules The Guild enforced on the residents of St. Hilaire strange, even though I understood some of their reasoning. In the beginning, even th Prelude for Lost Souls was such a fun, interesting read, and I fell in love with the cover.  The town of St. Hilaire sounds so interesting and cultish all at the same time - like a paranormal Pleasantville almost. If it actually existed I would probably be drawn to its quirkiness rather than the want to commune with someone who was dead. I found some of the rules The Guild enforced on the residents of St. Hilaire strange, even though I understood some of their reasoning. In the beginning, even though the beginning of each chapter tells you which character's perspective you'll be reading from I found myself unable to tell the difference between Russ and Dec. That dissipated once I got a little further in and got to know them both better. The unrequited love Russ has for Dec is so sweetly sad - it's not that Dec doesn't love him, it's just not in the same way. The LGBTQ element is fairly tame in this book, is m/m, was done in a completely normal teen hormone way, and didn't detract from the main story. Dec has never fully recovered from the death of his parents two years prior and the town of St. Hilaire is a constant reminder of everything he lost. Naturally, he cannot wait to leave - until the very thing that got him through his darkest days lands on his doorstep. In a town that profits off of grief it wasn't surprising to find that each character has been branded and struggled with their own forms of grief. The male posturing and "chest-beating" some of the characters exhibited was a little off-putting - mainly the Mackenzie brothers and sometimes Russ. I believe that Prelude for Lost Souls could definitely have a sequel or companion book and I would absolutely read it. Reading this book was so easy to read and get lost in when compared with the last two books I read, even though I adored them. I would recommend reading this book to readers who enjoy young adult, paranormal, supernatural, ghosts, LGBTQ, and mediums. A big thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a digital ARC of Prelude of Lost Souls - all opinions are my own.

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