John Harwood’s The Seance is the first book in a while that I’ve bought going only on the cover art and description on the back cover. In true librarian style, I tend to read online reviews and see if any professional journals (Booklist, Publishers Weekly, etc) reviewed a book. This one did have a Booklist blurb on the front cover so that made me more confident in purchasing it out of the blue. I was drawn to the cover art with the ominous tree and the house in the background through the haze.
I love ghost stories, and Autumn always puts me in the mood to read them. The Seance is about Wraxford Hall, a gloomy mansion with a dark past. Constance Langton finds out that a long lost relative has left Wraxford Hall to her. She embarks on an ill-conceived journey to the house to perform a seance and find out the truth about the home’s mysterious history.
Harwood is quite adept at crafting a gloomy gothic Victorian-era mystery. The story slowly unfolds in the form of letters and journal entries until you find out that nothing is quite as it seems. I devoured the last 100 pages in no time, anxious to find out the truth about the house and Constance’s family history.
The creepy Wraxford Hall, the foggy moors, and the English countryside all are described so that the novel has a very gloomy atmosphere perfect for a gothic suspense novel.
I highly suggest this novel if you are looking for a good Halloween read. I look forward to reading Harwood’s other novel, Ghost Writer, soon.