Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Book: The Seance

Victorian-Style Gothic Thriller Checklist:

1. Distraught heroine (check!)
2. Evil husband (check!)
3. Pansy artist True Love who dies an early death (check!)
4. Large falling-down haunted manor (check!)
5. Much fuss about chaperones (double-check!)
6. Mysterious whodunit (check!)
7. Charlatan spiritualists (check!)
8. Mesmerism (check!)
9. Disapproving relatives (check!)
10. Inheritances (check and double-check!)

I'm being silly; actually I really enjoyed this book. I liked it as much, if not more than The Ghost Writer. Although (on purpose or not) it seemed to follow the Victorian Gothic Thriller template pretty faithfully, it was a really fun story, full of dark mystery and evil men and smart(ish) women and that endless pool of gothic atmosphere: Spiritualism.

Acutally, it sort of remined me of a grownup version of a John Bellairs book, what with the Mystery Of The Armour and the Secret Room Behind The Fireplace and the Exploding Thingie and the Scary Monk's Wood Haunted By A Monk and all.

Basically, it's your standard Woman-Gets-Inheritance.... But-There's-A-Catch story. Throw in some tangled family history and a very disturbing mystery, and you've got yourself an excellent gothic mystery. I mean, come on. Spiritualism and seances and falling-down manors and mysterious dark husbands and scandals... what's not to like?

(what's with All My Capitalization tonight?)

I know it's not much of a review, but there are lots of plot twists and really, it's nothing that you can't imagine for yourself, but the wonderful writing and seriously authentic-period characters make it fun and you'll just have to read it for yourself.

I will say this: if you like John Bellairs, you will probably like this. I do, and I did.

What's up next? Getting back to the Once Upon A Time challenge, I'm going to read Anansi Boys, which has been sitting in my TBR stack since last summer. I think I'm finally in the mood for it!b


Kate said...

Oh, fine, I'll read it :)

Seriously, spiritualism and seances? And FALLING DOWN MANSIONS?!?!? Sign me up.

J.S. Peyton said...

Hey, I just posted of a review of this myself! I liked it as much as you did, my only quibble was with the ending. How'd you feel about the way the main villain is handled in the end? I was kind of expecting a more dramatic confrontation than the one in the book. Still, it was a pretty fun read!

P.S. I love your blog! I'm adding you to my blogroll. :D

Stefanie said...

This is a fun one isn't it? I loved all the twists and turns. And I liked the ending too, that it didn't go where it so easily could have.

Nymeth said...

Oooh, John Bellairs. Me wants. Between you and J.S. Peyton, I'm sold. And I liked Your Capitalization :P

Miss D. said...

Kate: you will love!

J.S.: Ooh, I will go check out your review. I agree, I wished for a more dramatic final rising-from-the-grave, but I still think it worked out pretty well.

Stefanie: The very ending was quite good. I liked the women characters a lot in this one.

Nymeth: you should definitely read this one.

farmlanebooks said...

I enjoyed reading this book, but was also a little let down by the ending.

I've never heard of John Bellairs, so I'm off to have a look at his books - thank you for the recommendation.