As the chill of autumn starts to creep into the air, I begin longing for a certain type of book: a slightly unsettling kind of story in which old manor houses, family secrets, superstitions, disappearances, and ghosts are all woven into a mystery with multiple twists and turns. I found just such a story in John Harwood’s latest novel, The Séance. Constance Langton, a young woman living in 19th century England, has endured a lonely childhood marred by the death of her younger sister and her mother’s obsession with spiritualism. The chance for a new life comes when Constance unexpectedly inherits a country manor house named Wraxford Hall from a distant relation. But the inheritance is tainted, for Wraxford Hall is known to be cursed, its history plagued by mysterious disappearances, occult experiments, and even murder. As she begins to investigate the tragic nature of her new home, a strange story unfolds before Constance, pulling her eventually within its malevolent embrace. And if, like me, you’re in the mood for a mystery with spectral overtones, you’ll eagerly surrender yourself to the sinister charms of The Séance.
For a list of other Victorian mysteries, check out Murder, Victorian Style, one of the many book lists created by Manhattan Public Library staff members to help you find your next favorite book. And remember to return often to our Staff Picks Page to find new and updated lists!