Following and perhaps capitalizing on the “1980s group of kids” trend, The Saturday Night Ghost Club revolves around one man’s memory of his twelfth summer. The book has drawn comparisons to Stranger Things, and while there is a friend group and it does take place in the 1980s, I found that the similarities ended there. A more apt, if not current, comparison would be the Goonies, especially considering the urban legend type stories the aforementioned club explores.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. The Goonies and Stranger Things are also similar. And that is a fair point. However, Stranger Things contains far more elements of horror and science-fiction, while the Goonies is more of a straight-up adventure. In this regard, the Saturday Night Ghost Club is closer in tone to Stand by Me than It. If you loved Stranger Things and you’re hankering for more of the same, I suggest you check out One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence. If you loved the 1980s feel but want FAR less paranormal elements, The Saturday Night Ghost Club may be what you’re looking for.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a coming of age story, wrapped in a memory play, and written with the precise hand of a neurosurgeon. I’ve never read anything written by Craig Davidson before, but I can say I’m certainly impressed with his ability to carve a mental picture. The story concerns one Jake Baker, an adult neurosurgeon reflecting on a particularly important summer. A relatively short book, Davidson uses specific moments to show the profound changes taking place in Jake. He further illustrates the significance of these moments by drawing comparisons to Jake’s adult career and life. There were several moments where, despite Niagara Falls being hundreds of miles from where I grew up, I found my mind wandering to my own childhood, shading Jake’s world with my own experiences. I can’t say for certain this was Davidson’s intent, but considering the story’s memory element, I suspect it was.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club may not be another Stranger Things. However, it is a compelling and emotional journey certain to engage anyone who remembers feeling that first exciting surge of uncertainty when facing the end of childhood, the beginning of something new. If you’re looking for a new story to read on vacation, look no further. This is the perfect summer book.