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 lost.Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a séance: 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 life.
So begins The Séance, John Harwood’s brilliant second novel, a gripping, dark mystery set in late-Victorian England.
It 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 reputation.Now 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.
Set in Victorian England, Harwood's spellbinding second novel (after The Ghost Writer) pays homage to such 19th-century suspense masters as Wilkie Collins and Sheridan LeFanu. When orphaned gentlewoman Constance Langton inherits Wraxford Hall, a derelict mansion on the Suffolk coast, from an aunt she has never met, the lawyer handling the conveyance warns her to sell the hall unseen. When he sends her a bundle of documents concerning the home's history of death, madness and occult apparitions, Constance feels a deep affinity for Nell Wraxford, who disappeared from the hall with her infant daughter years earlier under suspicion of murdering her enigmatic husband, Magnus. Hoping to clear Nell's name, Constance visits the hall with a group of psychic researchers. Harwood invokes the hoariest clich s of supernatural suspense, from stormy nights to haunted houses, and effortlessly makes them his own. The novel's voice, too, is superbly crafted, accurate for the period but never self-consciously antique.