Thrillingly, chillingly authentic. For a first novel, this is tremendous. London, 1896: Victorian repression, “mad doctors” who minister treatments - often cruel, vicious or bizarre - to the insane (or merely odd or, in the case of women, uncooperative), the enchantment of spiritualism. Mad doctor Ambrose Gennett is drawn into spiritualism through his spinster half-sister Ernestine who, he fears, has fallen afoul of a manipulative psychic, Lily Embly. Ernestine is determined to remaind part of the psychic world, taking part in seances. Lily, alone but for a dying mother who taught her access to the psychic world in all its manifestations, is determined to make her own way in the world. Dr. Gennett, highly respected, is determined to prove Lily a fake. In a world where appearance is all, a poor appearance can make a sane person seem mad with disastrous consequences, and the doctor's efforts bring about a shocking conclusion. I can't remember a better, more suprising, first novel. A 5; excellent for a book discussion group.
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