I was just beginning to get bored with The Locked Room.
I opened the book last night and had to backtrack a full ten pages until I read something I remembered - bad sign, but luckily, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sent me a copy of The Seance
, a book by John Harwood that is about to be released. It's a good old Victorian ghost story. Set in London, of course, it features Constance, who is a little girl when her younger sister dies from scarlatina. Her mother goes into a serious and lengthy depression and her father is already distant so Constance is raised by a nurse. There is a lovely section in the book's opening section in which a very young Constance walks by a Foundling Hospital and gets it fixed in her head that she must be a foundling.
I could not understand it, but nevertheless the suspicion took root and grew. It explained why Mama had loved Alma so much more than me, and why I was never any comfort to her, and even why, as I sometimes guiltily suspected, I did not love her as much as I ought to.
It is one of those things the human mind does - try to find the sense of what happens to us, even when there is none. Harwood imagines Constance's isolation from a child's point of view. It is an essential part of the plot's set-up. One day, when Constance is in her teens, her father abruptly leaves and Constance must care for her mother. She fakes a trance in which she speaks to her mother in her long-dead sister's voice and this is the first thing in a decade to wake her mother from her catatonia. So Constance begins to research seances and visits a medium for advice.
"I know it was wrong to deceive her," I said, "but Mama has been so unhappy for so long, and if only she could be certain that Alma is safe in Heaven, I think she might recover."
"You musn't reproach yourself, my dear. For all you know, it was your sister's spirit moving you to speak; you might have the true gift and not know it yet."
And that is, among other things, the question I expect this ghost story will explore. So far, Harwood has created a suitably sepia-toned atmosphere with the chill just beginning to creep in.
I read this about a month ago and really enjoyed it! Very creepy book.
I've got this one on hold at my library so when it comes in I'll be first to read it. :) I loved his first book, The Ghost Writer!
I've got this one on order from Amazon and can't wait to get it. I think I'll have to start it right away rather then putting it in the reading queue.
Katherine - I haven't gotten to the creepy parts yet!
Eva - I haven't read his first. If I like this one, I'll have to get it.
Danielle - I'm constantly doing that! Hence the ever-growing pile.
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