“Occult happenings, romantic passion, and murder disrupt the peace of a Berkshire village in 1911 in this hauntingly good novel.”
—Marie Claire (UK)
Katherine Webb’s debut novel, The Legacy, was an international bestseller—and her remarkable second effort, The Unseen, is as gripping, thrilling, and unforgettable as her first. In this compelling story of love, deception, obsession, and illusion, the arrival of two dangerous strangers in a small village in England in the early 1900s disrupts the quiet lives of a vicar with a fascination with spiritualism and his naïve young wife, and ultimately leads to murder. The Unseen is literary suspense at its most entertaining and enthralling, truly superior fiction not unlike the captivating tales of Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield.
Fans of time-shifting novels such as A.S. Byatt's Possession are most likely to be engaged by this well-written, if less-than-memorable, novel from the author of 2011's The Legacy. The book opens enigmatically first, a letter from 1911 reports the hiring of a new maid named Cat Morley who's been hired despite a dubious reputation by a rural English household. Before the reader can suss out who has been writing to whom, Webb shifts forward a century, and to Belgium. A well-preserved corpse has been accidentally unearthed in a garden near Ypres, and Leah Hickson, a freelance journalist, is tipped off to a potential news story about an anonymous lost soldier by her ex-, who works for the War Graves Commission. Things begin to knit together when she learns that letters were found on the body. Gradually, more of Morley's troubled past is revealed, alternating with Hickson's present-day investigation. Unfortunately, the major dramatic development takes a long time to arrive, and loses much of its impact in the process.