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.