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The Seance Hardcover – February 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012039
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #933,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for The Ghost Writer

 

“Elegantly paced and delightfully macabre, [The Ghost Writer] celebrate[s] the Victorian school and its obsession with the past’s authority over the present, the thin line between affection and obsession, the glimpse of the lurid from the corner of the eye.”—Washington Post Book World

 

The Ghost Writer manages to evoke both the confident past and the more anguished present of the genre, and even to suggest, slyly, that although the illustrious tradition of the genteel British ghost story remains with us, we need to be very, very careful about disturbing its rest.”—New York Times Book Review

About the Author

John Harwood is the author of two previous novels of Victorian Gothic suspense. Aside from fiction, his published work includes biography, poetry, political journalism and literary history. His acclaimed first novel, The Ghost Writer, won the International Horror Guild's First Novel Award. He lives in Hobart, Australia.


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Customer Reviews

Highly recommend if you like a good murder mystery.
Jennifer Mayo
I found myself skimming lots of pages and don't feel like i missed too much detail.
gisette27
It is very interesting and i am enjoying the story line and characters.
gailgroten

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Foggy Tewsday on June 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It is sometimes remarked that inanimate objects can have such a strong presence within a story that the object almost becomes one of the characters. I think this is certainly true of the sinister Wraxford Hall. This crumbling manor house has accrued its reputation down the years thanks to its eccentric inhabitants and its location. Its spooky setting amidst overgrown grounds and the surrounding sprawl of woodlands, known as Monks Wood, has caused the local poachers to pursue their game elsewhere. A pack of vicious hounds is said to roam the area and the ghost of a monk is believed to haunt the woods. Anyone who sees the specter is reputed to die within the month.

`The Seance' is John Harwood's second novel and is set in Victorian England. Events unfold through pages of narrative seen from the perspectives of three of the story's main characters: Constance Langton, John Montague and Eleanor Unwin.

Constance's distraught mother is inconsolable following the death of Constance's sister. In desperation, Constance and her mother attend a seance in the hope of providing some much needed comfort. John Montague is a barrister and amateur artist who is charged with tracing the heir of Wraxford Hall. Montague decides to commit the hall to canvas and on taking up his brushes, finds himself suffused with artistic powers that he had not, previously or since, possessed. Eleanor Unwin suffers from blinding headaches and an overbearing mother. Her headaches are the result of so-called visitations from the dead.

The social niceties of the time are particularly well drawn in the women's narratives and journals. Unchaperoned ladies and unsuitable husband material are almost as much to be feared as the manor house that binds the various characters.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Linda Painchaud-Steinman VINE VOICE on January 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
John Harwood's "The Seance" is heavily laden with Victorian atmosphere, and should delight most lovers of ghost stories and mysteries.

The tale is told in six parts, made up of narratives by three of the story's main characters. It is a ghost story (or is it?) with a mystery at its heart.

Family secrets abound, along with murder, blackmail, a sinister suit of armor, and a decaying old mansion that holds secrets of its own. The story was interesting enough to keep this reader turning pages (though not anxiously).

A word here about the pace of the story: for me, the most enjoyable fiction adheres to the "show, don't tell" rule. "The Seance" is heavy on the telling, which slows the pace considerably, without necessarily building suspense. Thus, the three star rating.

But this is simply a matter of taste. Many readers may find the detailed descriptive passages add to their enjoyment. Those readers should be especially pleased with this mostly satisfying tale.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tigger VINE VOICE on February 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I gobbled up this book like it was a piece of chocolate cake. Seriously. I'm already a sucker for anything in the English Victorian setting, especially when it involves dark, haunted mansions, supernatural phenomena, old family scandals and secrets, and a young female protagonist. It's as if Harwood wrote it especially for me!

Utilizing a mechanism that's been explored many a time and is not as easy to nail as it probably appears, the story is told almost entirely through several first-person narratives, starting with who I think of as the main character, Constance Langton, who has found herself the heir to the manor house in question, Wraxford Hall, to several others who add to the background detail before come back around to Constance.

The pacing is slow and steady, blissfully devoid of the booms and tricks so common in ghost stories today, yet so absorbing that you're drawn in as surely as a moth to the flame. Constance herself is an almost flawlessly drawn character, and the reader is transfixed immediately by the life of sorrow and loss she suffers at an early age - a lost sister, a hopelessly bereaved mother, and a cold, distant father. Very much alone in a world that wasn't particularly kind to a young girl trying to find her place in it, Constance's quiet courage and determination to find truth, whatever the cost, made her a character worth spending time with.

For any lover of a classic and elegant ghost story, this is just what the doctor ordered.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Guido Henkel on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Séance" is a wonderfully mysterious novel set in Victorian England. It is an utterly enchanting read that draws the reader into its magic and then takes them on a ride of apparitions and spooky encounters.

The most striking thing about the book is its voice. Very restrained and personable, the first-person narrative puts one right in the head of the man characters. Told in part through diary entries - much the same way Bram Stoker fashioned his classic "Dracula" - the story unfolds over various generations and through varying viewpoints as we learn about a strange family curse. Stylistically, this is the most delicately written book I have read in a long time, yet at the same time it is exactly this delicacy that makes you shudder at times, as evil perspires through the narrative and the characters slowly dive into the mysterious unknown that lies before them.

I have loved every minute of "The Séance" and cannot stop but shower it in praise. This is heartfelt, atmospheric gothic horror at its best with fine nuances and cool plot twists.
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