“An extraordinary novel certain to enchant readers of Sarah Waters . . . [a] gothic tale rich in atmosphere and unforgettable characters, dead and alive.” —Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth
In 1859 Boston, as the nation teeters on the brink of civil war, confidence men prowl the streets for fresh marks. Mediums swindle the newly bereaved. Into this world of illusion and intrigue comes William Mumler, a manipulating mastermind and criminal jeweler. Mumler hopes to make his fortune by photographing spirits for Boston’s elite. The key to his venture: a shy girl named Hannah who sees and manifests the dead and washes up on Boston’s harbor along with her strange, intense mother, Claudette.
As Mumler and Hannah’s fame grows throughout Boston, everybody wants a piece: Bill Christian, a brothel tough; Algernon Child, a drunken rival; Fanny A. Conant, a sly suffragette; and William Guay, a religious fanatic. These rogues, among a host of others, including the great spirit rapper Kate Fox, form powerful bonds with the spirit photographers, one of which will end in murder. Mumler’s first and last mistake: the dead cannot be made to heel.
Roughly based on the real-life story of William H. Mumler and his wife, Shadows in Summerland is a “gothic tale of greed, obsession, and murder” that pays homage to the golden age of literary ghost stories while adding its own modern twists (Publishers Weekly).