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The Seance by John Harwood
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The Seance (2008)

by John Harwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7604119,277 (3.57)45
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 seance: perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a bequest in two parts that will blight her life: a house and a mystery.… (more)
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English (40)  Italian (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
4.5 Star

Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside, has a sinister reputation. Once, a family disappeared there. And now Constance Langton has inherited this dark place as well as the mysteries surrounding it. Having grown up in a house marked by the death of her sister, Constance is no stranger to mystery, secrets, and the dark magic around us. Her father was distant. Her mother was in perpetual mourning for her lost child. In a desperate attempt to coax her mother back to health, Constance took her to a seance hoping she would find supernatural comfort.


When I picked this book up I don't know what I thought I would really get out of it but I mean it ws good enough I tore through another of the authors books right away [b:The Asylum|15814529|The Asylum|John Harwood|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1348098664l/15814529._SY75_.jpg|21540965]

This mystery takes us on a journey through family secrets and deception. The Seance has all the making of a classic Gothic Horror novel. When I started the book I thought the pacing was a little slow but then it quickly after building the character story up you jump right into the fast and at times gripping tale. I would easily put this in the vein of work with [a:Diane Setterfield|22665|Diane Setterfield|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1533836832p2/22665.jpg] and [a:Alice Hoffman|3502|Alice Hoffman|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1477318484p2/3502.jpg] but to be sure that John Harwood is also very much writing something completely their own ((also think Bronte Sisters and Blackfield)).
( )
  basilsbooks | Dec 30, 2019 |
Another atmospheric Victorian Gothic. 4 1/2 stars. ( )
  KateSavage | Mar 29, 2019 |
“Absurd, absurd, said the voice of reason: it is clairvoyance, I said to myself, only—what did Dr. Wraxford say?—a lesion of the brain, and will heal itself in time. But the phrase went spinning from one fearful thought to the next—a lesion of the brain, a lesion of the brain—until it became the sound of train wheels clattering through a dream in which I was compelled to return again and again to London.”

—The Séance by John Harwood

Even a well-written, meticulously constructed novel can suffer from too much atmosphere. This work has been compared to the foggy mysteries penned by Wilkie Collins and M.R. James, and it does wear the patina of those authors. Yet, somehow, when you scratch beneath the tarnish you are met only with bronze, the most basic of alloys—no jaw-dropping, eye-popping wonderment. I did enjoy the multiple narratives delivered in epistolary form (polylogic epistolary novel form, for the prudes in the room). I’m a big fan of experimenting with narrative—reliable or otherwise. However, once the mist clears after much discussion and constant reevaluation to figure out just where the hell you are, it’s exactly as you thought it was and you’re left scratching the head at the digressions that proffered so little payout. I wouldn’t mind reading this author’s first novel, “The Ghost Writer”—just as acclaimed and compared to some of my favorite writers. But I’m not rushing toward it. There’s simply too much damn fog.

Here's another good bit, though:

“I could not disagree, for Edward’s theology went no further than ‘If, when I die, I discover there is an afterlife, I shall be pleasantly surprised—at least, I trust the surprise will be a pleasant one—if not, it will be mere oblivion. Carpe diem for me, I’m afraid’” ( )
  ToddSherman | Aug 24, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Harwoodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thorpe, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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