A Refinery29 Best Book of the Year
"I was totally immersed in the strange, beautiful world of Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions. A gripping, chilling read that’s part love story, part mystery, and completely original, it’s sensuous, scary, and utterly thrilling. I’ve never read anything quite like it." —Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
"An enthralling meditation on grief and memory cloaked in suspenseful psychodrama, The Possessions dissolves the boundaries of past and present and artfully, heartbreakingly maps the consequences of transgressive desire. Sara Flannery Murphy has written the best kind of ghost story." —Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire
In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.
In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as "bodies", wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.
But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.
After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.
A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.
Behind the reassuringly bland facade of the Elysian Society, dramatic, distressing, and sometimes dangerous scenes play out daily as the bereaved seek to communicate with their departed loved ones, in Murphy's suspenseful supernatural-tinged debut, set on the gritty side of an unnamed U.S. city. The bridges between the living and the dead are people referred to as bodies, such as the young woman known as Eurydice (aka Edie), who after ingesting pills called lotuses can summon these spirits. The work perfectly suits emotionally guarded Edie, who apparently wants nothing more than to lose herself after a traumatic past, which only gradually emerges. But her carefully maintained shell starts to crack when she begins sessions with Patrick Braddock, an attractive lawyer, whose stunning wife, Sylvia, drowned 18 months earlier under suspicious circumstances. As Edie finds herself sexually drawn to Patrick and experiencing disturbing flashbacks, which seem to come from Sylvia, her efforts to investigate what happened that night at a lake outside the city and its potential connection to a recently discovered Jane Doe land her in very real jeopardy. Those ready to buy into the author's premise will be rewarded by a beautifully rendered, haunting page-turner.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Well Written and Thought Provoking
I found this book to be pretty darn riveting. The subject matter is one to noodle on - so many questions and possibilities play over in my head. I recommend this book and hope to see another by this author soon!
This book had a unique storyline, but it really didn’t go anywhere. There were so many events that could have been written to be more exciting but it just went flat. It also just ended weird. It was just okay for me. I’m not going to be recommending it to anyone.