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The Seance

The Seance [Kindle Edition]

John Harwood
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description


''The Séance' reminds us that the real horrors lurk within the reader's mind'
-- Andrew Taylor The Independent

'A brilliantly atmospheric dark mystery...Try this if you like being scared out of your wits' -- Daily Mail

'Harwood ratchets up the tension like a skilled violinist playing a rising note...sinister mesmerism, murder and trickery.' -- Rachel Howells, The Big Issue

'Wilkie Collins would be proud.' -- Lucy Atkins, The Times

'[Readers] will devour The Seance in a sitting' -- Sunday Times

'he can write as elegantly and often as scarily as M. R. James...a horrific excess a la Monk Lewis' -- Lucy Sussex, The Age

`enjoyable homage to the Victorian ghost story ... tantalising ... an exhilarating read'
-- The Tablet


'John Harwood's brilliant second novel, a gripping, dark, mystery set in late Victorian England'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 521 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547247826
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (3 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,240 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Dark House 1 Jun 2008
By Foggy Tewsday VINE VOICE
It is sometimes remarked that inanimate objects can have such a strong presence within a story that the object almost becomes one of the characters. I think this is certainly true of the sinister Wraxford Hall. This crumbling manor house has accrued its reputation down the years thanks to its eccentric inhabitants and its location. Its spooky setting amidst overgrown grounds and the surrounding sprawl of woodlands, known as Monks Wood, has caused the local poachers to pursue their game elsewhere. A pack of vicious hounds is said to roam the area and the ghost of a monk is believed to haunt the woods. Anyone who sees the spectre is reputed to die within the month.

`The Seance' is John Harwood's second novel and is set in Victorian England. Events unfold through pages of narrative seen from the perspectives of three of the story's main characters: Constance Langton, John Montague and Eleanor Unwin.

Constance's distraught mother is inconsolable following the death of Constance's sister. In desperation, Constance and her mother attend a seance in the hope of providing some much needed comfort. John Montague is a barrister and amateur artist who is charged with tracing the heir of Wraxford Hall. Montague decides to commit the hall to canvas and on taking up his brushes, finds himself suffused with artistic powers that he had not, previously or since, possessed. Eleanor Unwin suffers from blinding headaches and an overbearing mother. Her headaches are the result of so-called visitations from the dead.

The social niceties of the time are particularly well drawn in the women's narratives and journals. Unchaperoned ladies and unsuitable husband material are almost as much to be feared as the manor house that binds the various characters.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Wraxford Hall has a very dark history..." 18 Jan 2009
It's nice to say that John Harwood has maintained in "The Séance", his second novel, the same high standard for creepiness that he set in his first, "The Ghost Writer".

This time Harwood has gone the whole gothic hog, setting the story in Victorian England and beginning with the story of Constance Langton, who in true Bronte style, is lonely and neglected by her parents after the death of her sister Alma as a young child. Constance takes her mother to a séance, hoping to cure Mrs Langton's malignant grief, with tragic results, then learns she is the benefactor of an eccentric relative's will and has inherited Wraxford Hall, a place with an equally tragic past and reputation for being haunted. Through the séance, Constance has come into contact with Vernon Raphael of the Society for Psychical Research. Raphael asks that he and his colleagues be allowed to investigate Wraxford Hall and determine if there are really any supernatural influences and also to solve the mystery of a previous owner's death and the disappearance of a young woman and child, a mystery that Constance believes may explain her own unhappy past.

This is not the kind of book to start reading in the bath, in case you find yourself still immersed, prune like and freezing, several hours later. It should be enjoyed before a crackling fire, the curtains securely drawn, the wind and rain lashing at the windows and a comforter wrapped tightly about your person.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evoking the spirit of Victorian nastiness 22 Oct 2008
Elegantly written, clearly well-researched and downright creepy, The Seance both excites and intrigues from the first page.

As the mystery unfolds through the different first-person narratives around which the story is structured, the reader is sucked into the dark underbelly of Victorian society which seems so real you can almost taste the Cholera.

Whilst not out and out frightening, the chills are created by implication and suggestion, and the author does a fantastic job of keeping his audience constantly on edge without ever resorting to major shocks.

The only reason it's not a five-star rating is that whilst promising so much throughout, the denouement is a tiny bit predictable. But as the journey that takes you there is so enthralling, it's bordering on the churlish to dwell on that minor (subjective) fault too much.

Oh, and the cover design is absolutely beautiful.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This is a fantistically gripping, multilayered and clever little novel. As other reviews have mentioned, it harks back in its style, its subject matter and its overall flavour to the great Wilkie Collins at the height of his powers. Yes, think 'Woman in White' and 'Moonstone' but the one it reminds me most of is the, (in my opinion) ,far superior 'No Name'. They share a spirited heroine, with courage and daring beyond her time and numerous nefarious deeds.

Indeed it is easy to forget that John Harwood is not a Victorian great himself, so powerfully does he evoke the best sensationalist and gothic fiction of the time....perhaps, in keeping with the subject matter, a little spirit guidance is at work?? Only Harwood is also clearly subject to modern conventions of storytelling too and knows his readers now have a far greater cannon of sensationalist literature and film-making to draw upon and his novel is a modern work in the best sense:- lean and muscular, where older fiction can be flacid; unafraid of playing with conventions and most importantly, unpredictable. Its almost as if Wilkie Collins had been able to read Stephen King, Joe Hill and other modern horror icons, before popping back to Victorian England to pen this one!

This is a clever, involving and tautly spiraling work that rewards the reader with a cracking story, clever mystery and chills aplenty. You will want to stay up late into the night reading this one. Buy it...and if you haven't also read 'The Ghost Writer', the first novel by Harwood get that too. And spare a thought for old Wilkie Collins... read No Name its fab too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Give it to your elderly female relative.
Finishing this was a chore. Very dull. No scary bits . No supernatural elements. Blurb on back gives away half the mystery by telling us its a murder story . Read more
Published 3 months ago by M P Hall
1.0 out of 5 stars ======Spoiler Alert =====(if this can be spoilt)
This is plain awful. The answer to the mystery lies in a hidden room that wasn't found during an earlier search (and it's existence dismissed) because it was too well... Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. J. Gomm
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good read
I could of carried on reading this book. Tied up all ends of the story and I was left happy with the explanations. I couldn't put it down. Now I need another book to replace it.
Published 6 months ago by T
5.0 out of 5 stars The best mystery/scary book I've read after Poe!
I couldn't let down this book until I finally learnt what really happened in the end..! The storyline is amazing, it evolves and changes and you're never sure about anything. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Christina
5.0 out of 5 stars A true Victorian mystery
This is a really engrossing and satisfying read. The Gothic atmosphere pervading the story and the belief systems of Victorian England combine to produce twists and turns. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Cazziecool
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as scary as I thought it would be!
Purchased this mainly because I know some parts of the country mentioned in the book. Not too bad a read but not as scary as I would have liked!
Published 18 months ago by Linda Margaret Wells
1.0 out of 5 stars Just plain awful
First time try for this author as I liked the genre and general plot. Good first 20 /30 pages and then it just becomes bad or very bad. How do books like this get published. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mr. Robin J. Wisniewski
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and murderous tale
Constance Langton was only 5 when her 2-year old sister Alma died in 1873. Their mother, broken by Alma's death, retreated from life and her marriage. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Keen Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This was not what I expected it to be, but once I got into the story it was one I didn't want to put down.
An enjoyable read.
Published 23 months ago by Mrs L Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars "Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground. . . but never live...
THE SEANCE is a novel with quite a complicated structure. At the very beginning, we meet Constance Langton, a young woman whose younger sister died at a very early age, leaving her... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Brida
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