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The Spiritualist: : A Novel Paperback – May 27, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 419 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307406113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307406118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in 1857 New York City, this erotically charged chiller from Chance (An Inconvenient Wife) features spirit rappings, table tippings, deception and murder among its titillating treats. Michel Jourdain, a captivating Creole medium, has enthralled Dorothy Bennett, a sickly society matron who holds regular spirit circles to communicate with deceased loved ones. At one séance—attended by Evelyn Evie Atherton; Peter, her attorney husband, whom people suspect she married for his fortune; and Ben Rampling, Peter's law partner—an errant pistol shot nearly kills Michel. Suspecting the misfire was no accident, Peter determines to investigate, but winds up dead from a knife wound in the East River just days later. When society shuns the upstart Evie, who's charged with Peter's murder, Ben offers his legal assistance. Dorothy gives Evie refuge at her mansion, where the seductive Michel, whom Dorothy plans to adopt, instructs Evie in spiritualism. Evie's eerie discovery that the thirst for justice can reach beyond the grave enhances the neat resolution. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The Spiritualist sweeps the reader into the richly detailed world of upstairs/downstairs New York City of the 1850s. The heroine's life and sanity are at stake in this unique murder mystery, and compelling characterization and clever plot twists abound. There's not a ghost of a chance that Megan Chance's enthralling story will let you put it down.”
—Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Boleyn

“[The Spiritualist is] a suspenseful tale of dark obsession and erotic mysticism…Intricate plotting and elegant characterizations will keep readers turning the pages faster and faster toward the startling, unexpected conclusion.”
—Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author

"The Spiritualist is darkly mesmerizing historical suspense infused with a fabulously seductive supernatural atmosphere and riveting authenticity.”
—Amanda Quick, New York Times bestselling author

Customer Reviews

I thought they were very well written, I enjoyed the characters she created in both of those stories.
I alternated between wanting to read this book in one sitting to find out what was going to happen next and not wanting to read it so that it would last longer.
Brianna Soloski
The characters' reaction to what is revealed at the end is incongruous to the setting of the book, especially Evie's.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Evelyn Atherton (Evie to her friends) was living what seemed to be an ideal life until the night of January 15th, 1857, when she attended a spirit circle with her husband, who was seeking to contact his dead mother. Odd events transpired during the circle, including a gun "misfiring" (and nearly hitting her husband) and afterwards Peter, Evie's husband left, with a mission to ask questions because he believed the medium to be in danger. Though she didn't know it, this would be the last time that Evie ever saw her husband alive.

When Peter turns up dead Evie's world is turned upside down. Because of her middle class background as a private investigators daughter and then meteoric rise to one of the top ten thousand by marriage into the Atherton family, she is immediately a suspect in his murder. When evidence of their less than passionate marriage, their estrangement and Peter's will, leaving everything to Evie come to light it only reinforces the police's (and the Atherton's) conviction that Evie murdered her husband.

Because of her position as a one of the fallen rich Evie believes that no one will help her prove her innocence. But help comes from unexpected quarters when Peter's partner in law Ben takes on her case. And even more oddly, Dorothy Bennett, at whose home the fateful spirit circle took place, places bail for Evie and takes her in, believing they can contact Peter's spirit and learn the truth through her live in medium Michael.

Evie believes Michael to be a charlatan but her husband did believe someone was out to hurt him and therefore the answers to her husband's murder must be within the house or his circle. But at the same time she begins to have disturbing dreams and visions of her dead husband, warning her not to trust a man close to her.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jamie L. Mathews on November 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent... And I have also read an Inconveinent Wife, which I thoroughly enjoyed as well. However, the only reason I won't give this book 5 stars is due to editing. Several times I ran into the wrong names being used when a different character's name should have been used. And also, the back synopsis of the book says the story takes place in January 1856. How come the first chapter starts off in January 1857? That type of thing is highly aggravating and really spoils this author's excellent writing. I know it's just small things, but to me is a sign of someone in a hurry. Please find a better editor!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The Literary Assassin on December 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had the impression this book couldn't decide what it wanted to be. A bit of historical romance, a bit of murder mystery, a dash of ghost story thrown in.... all good solid Victorian fodder, but it was as if the author were ashamed to be writing anything so vulgar and so wrapped it in ho-hum literary restraint.

The heroine, Evelyn, is a bit of a wet rag. She's apparently intelligent, but she spends a great deal of the book letting herself be pushed and steered by people who claim to have her welfare in mind. Granted, she's a woman in a time when women had few legal rights, she's a middle-class girl adrift in an upper-class society that doesn't want her, and she's been accused of murdering her husband. A lot of bad stuff comes down on her at once; it's reasonable that she'd be a little dazed. But even when she does get angry, she doesn't get very angry, for very long, or at times when it would do her any good. This general lack of emotional affect makes for a rather dull and frustrating book.

Particularly frustrating to me is the necessary concealment of information from the reader. In my opinion, the most skillful mysteries use redirection to obscure the truth until the very end, but in this case, the facts are only presented when we need to know them, and when they appear, they are served up on a silver tray with a big red arrow saying HERE'S A CLUE!!.... but Evie still doesn't know what to do with them. Meanwhile, I'm screaming at the book, "Good God, woman, how can you be so thick??" The plot depends upon the heroine's naivete to function, but from my modern viewpoint (which is also a bit jaded from way too much literary criticism), I knew exactly what was going to happen before the body had even been found.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barbarino on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's 1856, Evelyn Atherton's husband Peter has been murdered, unfortunately for her she is the main suspect in the crime. The Anthertons are members of the elite rich in New York City's high society, Peter by birth, Evelyn by marriage; something people have not forgotten. Evelyn soon discovers she has few true friends and once she finds herself facing formal murder charges those in high places are no longer willing to associate with her.

Before his death her husband Peter was involved in the world of the occult. He attended 'spirit circles' regularly where a medium, Michel Jourdain, attempt to communicate with Peter's recently deceased mother. Evelyn feels certain that Jourdain is somehow connected to her husband's death and with the help of her husband's best friend attempts to uncover the truth and find her husband's killer.

I enjoyed this story it was a very easy and enjoyable read. I found it sufficiently taut with suspense to keep the pages turning. I liked the character Evelyn Antherton and I thought that Megan Chance created a setting rich in historic detail. I enjoyed the occult story line and the confusion and uncertainty around Evelyn's feelings within that realm.

I've read Megan Chance's other novels; An Inconvenient Wife and Susannah Morrow. I thought they were very well written, I enjoyed the characters she created in both of those stories.

But I think that An Inconvenient Wife is a more complex and satisfying read.
The Spiritualist has some twists and turns and surprises but I wasn't that surprised, I think she alluded to the truth enough that you could see where the story was headed. Though I did enjoy the romantic relationship and found that story-line interesting and satisfying.

Overall a good read.
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More About the Author

Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several novels. The Best Reviews has said that she writes "fascinating historical fiction." Her books have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices program and IndieBound's Booksense. A former television news photographer with a BA from Western Washington University, Megan Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at

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