The London Séance Society

Park Row/Harlequin/. Mar. 2023. 352p. Tr $30. ISBN 9780778387114.
In 1873, 20-year-old Evie Wickes, a student of the medium Madame Vaudeline D’Allaire, who specializes in contacting those who are victims of murder to help families solve the mystery, is murdered on All Hallow’s Eve. Her older sister, Lenna, who is 23, becomes an intern with Vaudeline in order to solve the mystery of her sister’s murder. This Gothic Victorian tale begins by drawing the reader into an interrupted séance, and then alternates perspectives between Lenna and Mr. Morley, vice president of the London Séance Society’s Department of Spiritualism. Initially the pacing of the story feels slow, but it eventually escalates to an anticipated and satisfying ending. Penner’s eerie setting mixed with dark energy adds to the unfolding of the mystery in historic London. The budding romance between Lenna and Madame is behind closed doors, but demonstrates that same-sex relationships did exist during the time period, even though people showed a great deal of sexual restraint during the Victorian age. The novel is well-researched and readers will learn plenty about séances and Victorian funeral traditions. The book takes place during a time when women were not viewed as intellectuals, but were often respected as mediums and experts of the supernatural. Characters reflect the time period and are reserved and cue as white.
VERDICT Mature teens will enjoy the mystery and learn plenty about the occult and time period.

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