Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Shutter Book Poster Image
Scary horror thriller offers a fresh take on old monsters.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shutter presents a cleverly conceived alternate version of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Fans of Bram Stoker's Dracula will find lots of references to that novel.

Positive Messages

Even the most frightening monsters can be conquered through bravery and resourcefulness. It's never too late to repair a relationship with a parent or child.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Micheline Helsing fights ghosts and monsters with great bravery and resourcefulness. Estranged from her father, she eventually finds the empathy to forgive him.


Lots of supernatural mayhem, some of it graphic and disturbing, often happening to innocent bystanders. Entities possess victims and turn them into killers. Micheline and her crew are afflicted with a curse. Her mother and young brothers die in a gruesome manner.


Micheline and Ryder share a handful of passionate embraces. Each time, they break away before too much can happen.


Given the intense action, it's not surprising that Micheline and her crew swear a lot. "Hell" and "damn" are used a dozen or more times, "bastard," "bitch," "s--t," and "ass" far less frequently.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shutter is a clever, nonstop horror-action thriller. Expect lots of supernatural mayhem, with attacks by ghosts, zombies, and other monsters, which are sometimes bloody and graphic. Sexual content is limited to a few passionate embraces hastily broken. "Hell" and "damn" are used a dozen times, "s--t," "ass," "bastard," and "bitch" far less frequently.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKristen L. November 25, 2016


I read this book before giving it to my kids to read.
They LOVED it! They read it 2 years ago and STILL talk about Luca, Micheline, and Ryder. It is a horror... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

One of the last descendants of the infamous, vampire-killing Van Helsing lineage, Micheline Helsing is a "tetrachromat," able to see the auras of the undead and dispatch them with either a bullet (if they're zombies) or a camera lens (if they're ghosts). What should have been a routine ghost hunt turns deadly, and Micheline and the three male crewmates get infected with a curse known as a soulchain. With only a week to live, Micheline and her friends must unearth deadly family secrets and learn the identity of the powerful entity haunting them before it's too late.

Is it any good?

SHUTTER earns points for bringing a new set of trappings to the traditional monster-hunter story. Using photography as a weapon against ghosts is ingenious, and author Courtney Alameda makes the most of her unusual conceit. Shutter is hip, action-packed, and genuinely scary. The plot feels a bit overstuffed with complications, but most readers are likely to enjoy the wild ride.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why ghosts, zombies, and vampires are such enduring figures in literature and popular culture. Why do writers and readers return to them so frequently?

  • Why do some writers choose to set their fiction in "alternate" versions of real-life settings? What advantages do they gain by mixing fact and fiction?

  • What happens when parents and their children have very different expectations of what family tradition means? What are productive ways to express the differences between yourself and the older generations of your family?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror and thrillers

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate