- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (February 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 162779705X
- ISBN-13: 978-1627797054
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,641,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Clairvoyants: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Ghosted"
Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart. Learn more
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"Brown takes her time drawing readers into the perspective of Martha Mary, a character who makes for the best kind of unreliable narrator . . . . A suspensefully ambiguous story, one where the twists aren’t so much shocking as harrowing confirmations of what the story’s been trying to say against our narrator’s will the whole time."
―Romantic Times Book Review
"A complex, chilling ghost story. . . Compelling . . . Brown paces the plot deliberately, building dread in both the present and past time lines as she switches between them . . . A thrilling read."
―Tampa Bay Times
“A master of intrigue, Brown has crafted a haunting mystery that will . . . push readers until the very end.”
―Booklist (starred review)
“Weaves a complex narrative with a lyrical thread of memoires; [An] arresting, unsettling, and beautiful tale. Brown enchants and haunts by making the reader question every voice, every truth.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Gripping . . . . Brown’s novel is a riveting page-turner.”
“Karen Brown deftly manages to make the occult ordinary and the strange familiar in this surprising and suspenseful novel.”
―Lily Tuck, National Book Award-winning author of The News from Paraguay
“Karen Brown draws us effortlessly into the mysterious world of The Clairvoyants, where the line between the dead and the living falls away. An enchanting novel that will keep you turning pages!”
―Wendy Walker, bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten
“Karen Brown's The Clairvoyants is an eerie and affecting dose of Gothic fiction. Martha Mary would've been right at home in a Shirley Jackson novel. Martha sees ghosts, and by the end of the twisting, quietly unnerving story, you will swear you do too.”
―Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock
“With an insightful and poetic voice, Karen Brown creates a mystical world filled with suspense, desire and lastly acceptance. Her sophomore novel, The Clairvoyants, simmers from beginning to end and will leave readers wondering if ghosts might be lingering just outside the door.”
―Lori Roy, Edgar Award-winning author of Bent Road and Until She Comes Home
“The Clairvoyants is a deliciously modern classic ghost story, full of snowstorms and sly sisters and sorrowful, dangerous parties. Karen Brown has created a world in which the dead are as real as the living and the living cannot be trusted. I was haunted by my visit there and, like the ghosts that populate this taut and magnetic novel, I didn’t want to leave.”
―Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists
“The Clairvoyants is a beautiful, spookily atmospheric, ridiculously accomplished novel. Karen Brown’s writing is so rich with detail, eroticism, and psychological insight that I really would read anything with her name on it―grocery list, instruction manual, casserole recipe, brilliant new novel.”
―Christine Sneed, author of Paris, He Said
About the Author
Karen Brown’s Little Sinners and Other Stories was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly; her previous collection, Pins and Needles received AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction; and her first novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, was published in 2013 by Washington Square Press to rave reviews. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of South Florida.
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I also thought the story line was original and well conceived...there were times when I really did not know who did what and others when I could not believe Martha was being so blind and naive; all of these twists driving me to discover the truth by reading on. I also loved that the author ended the story with a new beginning and a bit of a new mystery. Well done...good read.
The two sisters spend the next years, and some 200 pages, just living their unattractive lives - and all this leads up to another unbelievable and totally unnecessary act. This one comes back on them like a boomerang - and the good (?) sister, Martha, finally deals with it as you and I might. Enter Providence to save the day. Meanwhile, the unpredictable sister has to lie in the bed she chose, abandons a child, and then leaves the scene. The End. I hope the fact that the flakey sister is left swinging in a hammock somewhere doesn't mean that this author plans to write a continuing story of these two individuals. There was hardly enough "meat" on them to fill this novel's 304 pages.
This author writes well. What's lacking here is a plot that has direction, movement and purpose - and characters we will take the time to love or hate. To wind it up, I coudn't see the relevance of the title, as clairvoyance had hardly anything to do with the story - other than a token sighting of a ghost sprinkled in from time to time.
THE CLAIRVOYANTS is the second novel of Karen Brown (her first, THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS came out in 2013. She has two other publications of short stories) and consequently is the second I've read. This gal can write, hands down. Her prose is complex, vivid, and poetic. That said, THE CLAIRVOYANTS is a hot, roiling simmer encased with erotic undertones, complex layers, a highly Gothic vibe that will have you wrapped in a hypnotic dream-state questioning your own reality.
Martha Mary and her slightly unstable younger sister, Del (Delores) claim to see ghosts. They are the charlatans of their small coastal town, offering seances and readings of the dead in exchange for a few bucks to buy lip gloss and drug-store flip-flops.
But maybe she *can* see ghosts after all?
Martha Mary leaves that coastal town and settles in Itacha, New York in attempt to be a bit more 'grounded,' to attend college. There she falls in love with photographer/professor William Bell and together, along with her sister and other friends try to piece out the mystery of a missing, presumed dead girl, Mary Rae.
But dark, twisty things happen. More deaths. More ghosts. More mystery and intrigue. The first half of this book was good, but slow-moving. Once the crew moved into the depths of the abandoned mental asylum, the pace picked up (at least for me). This is where I felt the book truly shined. I'm going with a solid 5-star review because the content is so unique, so original, and the writing is so gorgeous. In all honesty, I'd go round down to a 3 because the pace is a little slower than I would have preferred, a meandering tale that requires careful attention and observation on the reader's part.
Readers of Caroline Leavitt's CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD will appreciate, so too will those who read T. Greenwood's earlier work, and especially THE GOLDEN HOUR (abandoned places and photography appear in both Brown and Greenwood's work). Also, I found the style and voice meshes well with Elizabeth Brundage's ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR. Finally, looking at classics, there's a good deal of overlap between this and the stories of Shirley Jackson.