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The Seance by John Harwood
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The Seance (2008)

by John Harwood

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
I couldn't put this one down. It's an excellent gothic thriller, with the feel of a much older book. Zipped through it in about 24 hours. It has lots of twists and turns, multiple narrators, some of whom are more reliable than others, and a wonderful mystery. I am certainly going to look for more from this very talented author! ( )
  glade1 | Jan 29, 2017 |
This is a real gothic tale told with narratives by the different characters. Each part switched to a different person and caused the reading to slowdown until you got settled back into the story. I enjoyed this book but it was not an easy read. I found myself having to really concentrate at times in order to follow the different narratives and characters. I stuck with it because I wanted to find out what had happened. Towards the end, the story got very interesting as started to move faster. All in all, it turned out to be a very good tale. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
It is sometimes difficult to keep characters straight between the flashbacks, but over all a good read. Sufficiently dark, sinister, and eerie. The social customs of the time period will frustrate you to no end. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
3.5 - 4 stars

Despite some misgivings, I enjoyed this Victorian mystery/ghost story. It would have been better for me had there not been multiple narrators, and I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending. However, the story moved along at a good pace with lots of tension and suspense. The descriptions of the various locations were very good, particulary of the creepy delapidated Wraxford Hall. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
After the death of her sister, Constance’s mother becomes depressed. In an attempt to cheer her mother up, Constance arranges for them to attend a Séance in the hope of being able to speak to her dead sister from beyond the grave. Instead, something terrible happens and Constance ends up alone. She receives a bequest – an old house – but with it comes a warning – that Constance should “sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plough the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there….

The story unfolds told in turn by Constance, John Montague, a man charged with finding out ownership of the Hall and Eleanor Unwin, a woman with psychic abilities – their stories interweave until the story reaches its superb climax.

I loved this brilliant novel from the outset. Harwood evokes the Victorian period with ease and the book feels as though it could have been written during that period! It is very atmospheric and chilling at times. I’ve seen the writing style compared to that of Wilkie Collins and the Brontë sisters and it certainly felt similar to works of the latter. I’m definitely going to read his earlier book, The Ghost Writer. Recommended. ( )
  Bagpuss | Jan 17, 2016 |
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Epigraph
To manifest a spirit, take twenty yards of fine silk veiling, at least two yards wide and very gauzy. Wash carefully, and rinse seven times. Prepare a solution of one jar Balmain's Luminous Paint; half a pint of Demar Varnish, one pint odourless benzine and fifty drops lavender oil. Work throughly through the fabric while it is still damp, and then allow to dry for three days. Then wash it with naphtha soap until all the odour is gone and the fabric is perfectly soft and pliable. In a darkened room, the fabric will appear as a soft, luminous vapour.

Revelations of a Spirit Medium (1891)
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For Robin
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If my sister Alma had lived, I should never have begun the séances.
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Book description
"Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plough the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there."

London, the 1880s. A young girl grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for the child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance Langton takes her to a séance. Perhaps they will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the séance has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone; her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.

So begins The Séance, John Harwood's brilliant second novel, a gripping, dark tale 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 at Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion near the Suffolk coast. Now Constance must uncover the Hall's secrets, even at the cost of her life. What she discovers there, as she descends into the darkness at the heart of the mystery, will bring her face to face with her own deepest terrors and desires.

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HORROR & GHOST STORIES. London, the 1880s. A young girl grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for the child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance Langton takes her to a seance. Perhaps they will find comfort from beyond the grave. But that seance has tragic consequences.Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest will blight her life. So begins "The Seance", 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 at Wraxford Hall, a terrifying stately home near the Suffolk coast. Now Constance must find the truth behind the mystery, even at the cost of her life. Because without the truth, she is lost.… (more)

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