“An extraordinary novel sure to enchant readers of Sarah Waters as well as those looking for a thrilling and transporting gothic tale.” —Julia Fierro, author of The Gypsy Moth Summer
The author of The Man Who Noticed Everything, an award-winning collection of short stories, presents his debut work of full-length fiction, “a witty and disturbing horror novel . . . as if Henry James had written an issue of Tales from the Crypt” (Bennett Sims, author of A Questionable Shape).
Loosely based on the lives of spirit photographer William H. Mumler and his wife, Shadows in Summerland transports readers to 1859 Boston, where those who promise access to the otherworldly—mediums, spiritualists, and psychics—are celebrated. This embrace of illusion and intrigue provides the perfect hunting ground for con artists and charlatans—men like William Mumler.
When William teams up with Hannah, a shy young girl who sees and manifests the dead, they are welcomed into the drawing rooms of the city’s elite. But the couple’s newfound fame and fortune draw grifters and rogues into their circle, including someone who will bring the afterlife closer to them than they could ever imagine.
Spanning three decades, Shadows in Summerland “recalls an era no less gullible than the present one . . . Van Young’s prose skillfully illuminates his gothic tale of greed, obsession, and murder” (Publishers Weekly).
“A fabulous and weird addition to the contemporary fantastic.” —Laird Barron, author of Black Mountain
In an America on the cusp of Civil War, Boston's bereaved are easy marks for con artist mediums. Photographer William Mumler stumbles upon an ideal partner in gulling his marks: Hannah, who appears to have a genuine gift for making the dead appear in photographs. Marriage to Hannah and financial success soon follow. But Hannah comes with troublesome baggage in the form of her stern mother, and success brings with it the ambitious and the greedy, all determined to have a share of William and Hannah's wealth for their own or to destroy them. Van Young's debut novel recalls an era no less gullible than the present one. Drawing on the lives of the historical Mr. and Mrs. Mumler, Van Young paints a picture of the possibilities of faith for those ambitious and amoral enough to exploit other people's pain, people who will not allow a moment of genuine mystery to distract them from the main chance. Van Young's prose skillfully illuminates his gothic tale of greed, obsession, and murder. Fans of his short fiction will be pleased.