The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner was a fast-paced story full of twists and turns. And ghosts! It is a story of very few characters, but they are all excellently written and relatable.
Penner’s writing style is atmospheric and evocative, which immersed me deep into the world of seances in 1873. Lenna Wickes is apprenticing with the experienced and renowned Parisian medium, Vaudeline D’Allaire. Vaudeline is the same medium Lenna’s sister was learning from when she was murdered. Lenna doesn’t believe in ghosts or seances or any of what she considers ‘nonsense’, but she’ll do what she has to, to find out what happened to her sister.
Meanwhile, in London, Mr. Morley is struggling to keep the London Seance Society going after the society’s leader, Mr. Wolckman, was murdered. Morley decides the best course of action is to invite Vaudeline to London and have her conduct a seance to find the murderer of Mr. Wolckman. The society and London are froth with dangers and Vaudeline won’t go unless Morley ensures her safety. Mr. Morley is willing to do what he has to.
The mysteries and facts of the murders have layers that slowly reveal the shocking truth.
After a slow start (which is only the first chapter really), this story quickly morphs into a splendid page-turner with a very satisfying end to the bad guys. I would recommend this speculative fiction treasure, which seamlessly blends the genres of magical realism, mystery, historical, and paranormal. I liked this book so much, I went and looked up what else Sarah Penner wrote. She only has one other book – The Lost Apothecary -which is also a gem. I look forward to her next release.
Here’s the blurb:
1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.
Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. With shared determination, the women find companionship that perhaps borders on something more. And as they team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…