The Seance – John Harwood

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The Seance is a dark, Gothic tale, set in Victorian England.  The central character is Constance, who on becoming an orphan, begins to suspect that her family history is not as simple as she was led to believe. She inherits a crumbling,  country house called Wraxford Hall, which is central to the book’s plot; it’s eerie, dilapidated state adds to the mysterious atmosphere. Constance vows to discover the truth behind her ancestry, and unravel the mysterious events which have taken place in the house.

The book is full of things which cannot be explained. Why does anyone who see the ghost of a monk in the grounds of the house die within a month? Why have previous owners of the mansion disappeared in thunderstorms? and what role does the suit of armor play in it all?

I loved the historical detail in the book. The Victorians’ understanding of the spirit world was fascinating, and very well researched. I felt totally immersed in the world of clairvoyants and mysticism. Constance’s character behaved realistically, and I quickly grew to love her. 

I didn’t find it very scary, (perhaps that’s because I read Blindness recently!) but it was definitely a bit creepy. It was a real page turner, and there were times when I had to stop myself from racing ahead to find out what happens. There was the odd occasion when I lost myself a little bit by doing this, and had to re-read sections to understand exactly what was going on. This was only a minor flaw, and probably due to the fact that it is so tightly plotted. I didn’t spot many of the clever twists, although there were a few that I saw a mile away!

This is a well constructed, Gothic mystery which I recommend to anyone who likes reading about Victorian life, or who is just after a well written story, packed with secrets.

stars41

I haven’t read John Harwood’s first novel, The Ghost Writer, but I’ve added it to my wish list already.


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11 Comments

  1. Nymeth says:

    Gothic! Victorian! I’m so sold. I haven’t read The Ghost Writer either, but I’ve heard lots of great things about it.

  2. Molly says:

    Oh….this sounds right up my alley! It is going on the TBR list immediately.

  3. FleurFisher says:

    I love gothic and I love Victorian so this sounds like heaven – thank you!

  4. Sandy says:

    I LOVED The Ghost Writer…it was definitely spooky and not all was explainable with that one either. I must read this one!

  5. Lynda says:

    Sounds good – I’ll look out for this one – thanks ;0)

  6. Simon S says:

    Oh I am really jealous I so so so so so so so so so want to read this book, its very very me and am now green with envy!

  7. Jackie says:

    Simon – you’ll just have to wait until it’s release in April..not long now….I wanted to read this book so much that I ordered it from Canada!

  8. Terri B. says:

    Gosh, it sounds like we should start a club! I want to read this one too.

  9. Mo says:

    This does sound good; I’ll have to look for it, as I’ve never heard of this author or his books.

    Thanks for the wonderful review.

  10. J.S. Peyton says:

    I just read and reviewed this one myself and I thought it was pretty great too! I didn’t find it all that scary either, but it certainly had a lot of atmosphere, doesn’t it? Great review.

    P.S. I love your blog! I’m putting you my blogroll! :)

  11. Jackie says:

    JS Peyton – Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m off to have a llok round yours! I look forward to sharing book thoughts with you in the future!

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