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The Seance
by John Harwood




Overview -
A haunting tale of apparitions, a cursed manor house, and two generations of women determined to discover the truth, by the author of The Ghost Writer Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plow the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there . . ." Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance's sister, the child she lost.Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a s ance: perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.
So begins The S ance, John Harwood's brilliant second novel, a gripping, dark mystery set in late-Victorian England.
It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black-hearted villains--and murder. For Constance's bequest comes in two parts: a house and a mystery. Years before, a family disappeared atWraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside with a sinister reputation.Now the Hall belongs to Constance. And she must descend into the darkness at the heart of theWraxford Mystery to find the truth, even at the cost of her life.

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More About The Seance by John Harwood

 
 
 

Overview

A haunting tale of apparitions, a cursed manor house, and two generations of women determined to discover the truth, by the author of The Ghost Writer Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plow the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there . . ." Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance's sister, the child she lost.Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a s ance: perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.
So begins The S ance, John Harwood's brilliant second novel, a gripping, dark mystery set in late-Victorian England.
It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black-hearted villains--and murder. For Constance's bequest comes in two parts: a house and a mystery. Years before, a family disappeared atWraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside with a sinister reputation.Now the Hall belongs to Constance. And she must descend into the darkness at the heart of theWraxford Mystery to find the truth, even at the cost of her life.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547247823
  • ISBN-10: 0547247826
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • Publish Date: October 2009
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 7.84 x 5.34 x 0.81 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.69 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Classic inspiration for spine-tingling chills

John Harwood's second novel ought to be read aloud, through the reek of cigar smoke, port wine, yuletide logs and leather bindings. The Séance, like its predecessor The Ghost Writer, takes up the bookish thread of classic British supernatural fiction as if it had never been cut by modernity. Fortunately, Harwood writes so well that an uninitiated reader can perfectly enjoy his tale of atmospheric mystery and dread without catching all the gothic and Victorian allusions. With the right key, however, The Séance offers a first-rate passport into the strange and chilling realm of literature where Harwood plays and with such postmodern abandon.

And so, dear reader, here is a brief inventory of The Séance's sources—a whirlwind tour of the book's ingenious exploitation of the genre's traditional plot devices. If you decide to investigate the original works, please proceed with care. Once you cross this threshold, any possibility of real ghosts will pale by comparison to the genuine terrors of these imagined ones:

1.) An uncanny piece of armor inspires mortal fear (Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto).

2.) A young woman is threatened in an isolated house by an evil tormentor (Matthew Lewis' The Monk, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho).

3.) A bizarre and blasphemous electrical experiment wreaks havoc (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein).

4.) A man deranged by love for his wife exploits her special condition to explore the permeable boundary between life and death (Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher).

5.) The legal matter of a strange bequest leads our heroine on a dangerous path of self-discovery (Mrs. Riddell, passim).

6.) A dark and charming man of great intelligence and cruelty seduces a beautiful woman in order to feed his desire for immortality (Bram Stoker, Dracula).

The catalogue of references could continue with a social history of spiritualism in the late Victorian period and arrive at last at the great ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James, the point from which Harwood launched his debut novel. It is a scary and joyful ride. Hold on tight. The horses are about to run wild through the dark wood.

This review refers to the hardcover edition.

 

BAM Customer Reviews