I rated John Harwood s debut novel, The Ghost Writer, 2 stars, but this second novel is definitely a big improvement, and kept me interested and creeped out the entire time I was reading it The Seance is certainly a send up of all the classic Victorian gothics of the 19th century, without all the flowery and overly melodramatic dialogue Harwood s prose is almost flawless in it s execution, and he is a master in drawing the reader into an implausible world and making them believers in it.From the very first paragraph, I was hooked on the story, and could hardly bare to put it down late last night, even though I was too sleepy to continue Yes, it wasthatkind of good, and deliciously spooky as well I would have given it a full 5 stars had the ending been as tightly woven as the rest.Thanks to my GR friend Amy S for pointing me in the direction of this one It was certainly one of the better gothics I ve picked up in 2011. This book was a strange one I went into this with low expectations, as I d seen a review prior to picking this up which emphasised how little of the supernatural was present in the storyline I honestly think The S ance as a title is incredibly misleading, implying ghosts and visions This book is not that It is a story set during the Victorian period, and is of a mystery than anything else The tagline is a apt title.It took me a while to read this, and it took a long time to get into it I found with each part my interest intensifying, but it never got to that point where I couldn t put the book down In fact, every time I did put it down, it made it a lot harder to pick back up The story was interesting, but I never felt drawn to the characters, and although I was interested to see what twists and turns were ahead, I put it down with a sense of meh It was good but nothing special. THE SEANCE, by John Harwood is a gothic, Victorian style mystery I have to say that I really enjoyed the author s writing style, and will be searching out other books by him in the near future Using the technique of telling the tale with a series of narratives written by various people, we are taken further back in time to the legends and stigma surrounding Wraxford Hall This decaying manor is somehow traced back through the lineage and left to a young woman, Constance Langton recently orphaned by parents that she never really felt bonded to.Through the various diaries and narratives, we are given pieces of a puzzle going back decades, entwining many lives through its mysterious pages.The menacing air hits immediately, and we are mere witnesses as Constance delves in deeper, determined to get at the root of what happened in that manor to make its reputation so bleak.A great, slow burning story for those who like to build upon the atmosphere and characters while leading to the ultimate conclusion of a tale that has never been known before.Recommended I just finished this as part of a book group read and is not my usual type of read As a fact, it s my first ghost story I read.besides kids spooky Halloween comics.Set in the later eighteen hundreds, Constance lost her sister and her grieving mother At first it was my impression, that The S ance would take off as Constance takes her mother to see one, to make her feel better about her lost daughter But that wasn t so The book is divided into many parts, timelines, and person s views It really gets confusing So according to the jacket of the book it reads a gripping gothic thriller set in late Victorian England It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black hearted villains murder I can attest to the gloomy atmosphere, with fog, candlelight, dusty libraries, dark cellars, creaking floorboards, tombs and creepy churchyards That all came well across by way of Harwood s writing styleWe think of the mind as enclosed within the narrow compass of the skull, but we could equally imagine a cavern filled with dark water and connected by some subterranean passage, to the limitless depths of the ocean, and think of each individual mind as a droplet of one great oceanic Mind which contains everything all the gods and demons, the paradises and underworlds of every religion on earth, all history, all knowledge, everything that has ever happened A mind upon which it could truly be said that nothing is lost, not so much as the fall of a sparrowJohn Harwood, The Seance It was so confusing I had a hard time reading it But I finished it Maybe someone else enjoys this kind of writing or I really just did not get it I found the story to be not gripping me, and somehow I must have missed the climax.cause for me there was none Review from BadelyngeThe Seance by John Harwood is set in the 1880s and is the story of Constance Langton She becomes involved in spiritualism in an effort to lift her mother from the crippling grief of losing a child Constance, due to the lack of regard and love from her parents has always had the nagging feeling that there is some mystery about her heritage, believing herself to be a foundling Through diaries and journals and the aid of a world weary solicitor called Mr Montague she discovers a frightening legacy linking her to a crumbling deserted manor, Wraxford Hall, with a dark and murderous history It s a brilliantly written homage to the Victorian mysteries and ghost stories of such classic authors as Wilkie Collins, Dickens, A.C Doyle and M.R James etc It s full of styles, motifs, little references, names etc that will be familiar to fans of this area of literature My personal favourite segments are those featuring the testimony of John Montague with such a name it shouldn t surprise anybody to discover the style during these segments is an almost perfect homage to the ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James It s a style I ve seen attempted many times I ve tried it myself , but Harwood nails it flawlessly, bringing to mind stories like Count Magnus, The Mezzotint, Lost Hearts and others If the book had been able to maintain its creepy, portentous atmosphere throughout I d have given it 5 stars but the last third, as it attempts to resolve the various strands of mystery, does become a little pedestrian in style It s still one of the best book I ve read this year so far. This definitely satisfied my urge for a gothic mystery. There is a good story here but it is buried beneath the tedium of excessive Victorian pleasantries and feints too clever for their own good The late Nineteenth Century setting is perfect for this sort of story as superstition and mystery are still commonplace although being gradually worn away by the advance of science and technology The characters attempt to provide rational and scientific explanations for phenomena but retain the hopes or beliefs that something supernatural may account for the goings on, providing a fertile ground for charlatans and showmen to prey upon their imaginations Things we take for granted today and even those we don t yet understand were easy pickings as avenues for knowledgeable people to control those with less inquisitive minds.The story is told from the eyes of three different speakers, each one depressing than the last They are layered like an onion abcba in such a way that by the time the reader returns to Constance s time a in the onion , it is very easy to forget who she was The sheer number of meaningless characters introduced in each section makes following who did what a chore This can be desired in a mundane whodunit, but the promise of something fantastical renders them annoyances Couple this with a thoroughly unsatisfying ending and I m afraid I cannot recommend or appreciate this work in its current form.This is an enticing early draft of what could have been a solid homage to Doyle s Holmes Another pass or two, including a weaving of the narratives rather than the current bookending of Constance s current timeline, would have created a much immersive and enjoyable read. I know this book was not for everybody and I totally understand way, but I absolutely loved and enjoyed it so much I actually pick this book up from the library for a book club group that I joined on goodreads that there were going to read in the month of Oct I know some readers from the book club group didn t really like this one Because it does have different pov s and subplots within the story that it all connects to the main plot at the very end It also have a very eerie, haunted and dark gothic vibe too the book as well I just love and enjoy all these aspects in this book I also really love the writing style in The S ance I don t now how to describe it too you on why I love John Harwood writing style, but I just love how John Harwood writes and I thoroughly love how he tells as an amazing haunting and very eerie story in The S ance to me I really don t want to go into too many details about the books, because I don t want to spoil it for anybody But I will say if you love a good haunted, very eerie and dark gothic book than this book is for you If you haven t read a book quite like The S ance before I still say give it a try who knows you might be surprise and love this dark gothic tale All and all I absolutely loved and enjoyed everything in The S ance that I will most definitely try too read books by John Harwood in the near future. okay it is high time i remove myself from the victorian gothic for a little while everything is blurring together this one was fine, not great there was just something a little cartoony about it big house, hidden passages, suits of armor, harnessing lightning, mesmerism the usual good rainy day book though. A Haunting Tale Of Apparitions, A Cursed Manor House, And Two Generations Of Women Determined To Discover The Truth, By The Author Of The Ghost Writer Sell The Hall Unseen Burn It To The Ground And Plow The Earth With Salt, If You Will But Never Live There Constance Langton Grows Up In A Household Marked By Death, Her Father Distant, Her Mother In Perpetual Mourning For Constance S Sister, The Child She LostDesperate To Coax Her Mother Back To Health, Constance Takes Her To A Seance Perhaps She Will Find Comfort From Beyond The Grave But The Meeting Has Tragic Consequences Constance Is Left Alone, Her Only Legacy A Mysterious Bequest That Will Blight Her LifeSo Begins The Seance, John Harwood S Brilliant Second Novel, A Gripping, Dark Mystery Set In Late Victorian EnglandIt Is A World Of Apparitions, Of Disappearances And Unnatural Phenomena, Of Betrayal And Blackmail And Black Hearted Villains And Murder For Constance S Bequest Comes In Two Parts A House And A Mystery Years Before, A Family Disappeared AtWraxford Hall, A Decaying Mansion In The English Countryside With A Sinister ReputationNow The Hall Belongs To Constance And She Must Descend Into The Darkness At The Heart Of TheWraxford Mystery To Find The Truth, Even At The Cost Of Her Life
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.
- 336 pages
- The Seance
- John Harwood
- 21 December 2017 John Harwood