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157 Reviews
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Heath Seance Parlour
Though not my ususal choice of subject matter I soon got caught up in the characters who were very well drawn and compelling, making me care about what happened to them and where the story led them and me the reader. I also like the atmosphere the book created of Victorian Black Heath and the dark arts. I read this book in November when the nights were drawing in and it...
Published 17 months ago by Angela Phillips

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Blackheath Seance Parlour
I thought this would be my sort of book but in the end I was quite disappointed with it. Two sisters run a sweet shop in Victorian Blackheath but business is not doing well and a lot of the time they are hungry and cold. Both drink to escape their problems and Judy, the younger of the two is writing a novel. Excerpts from this novel are interspersed with the events of...
Published 3 months ago by Damaskcat

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Heath Seance Parlour, 13 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: The Blackheath Seance Parlour (Kindle Edition)
Though not my ususal choice of subject matter I soon got caught up in the characters who were very well drawn and compelling, making me care about what happened to them and where the story led them and me the reader. I also like the atmosphere the book created of Victorian Black Heath and the dark arts. I read this book in November when the nights were drawing in and it suited the mood of this time of year. I was a little frustrated initially by the parallel story of the Count and Countess wondering what it had to do with the main plot, but when it was established as the plot of the novel by Judy, one of the main characters, I understood the place for it in the book. A very enjoyable and absorbing read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Addictive!, 22 May 2014
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Mrs. K. O'brien "mrsbob" (Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blackheath Seance Parlour (Kindle Edition)
Brilliant! Loved it! Fantastic! Shall I stop raving yet and review? I think I should.

I purchased The Blackheath Seance Parlour after initially linking up with author Alan Williams on Twitter. The novel is split into two; one story following the lives of Maggie and Judy Cloak and the other following the lives of a count and countess who are, shall we say, a little different from the rest of the human race. Initially Maggie and Judy are in the depths of despair; penniless and borderline alcoholic spinsters.They are following in the footsteps of ancestors by running a chocolate shop in Blackheath. However the business is failing and they are practically desolate. Then Judy comes up with the idea of transforming their store into a Seance Parlour. Enter medium Mrs Walters and so the adventures begin.

As the novel progresses we discover that the count and countess are products of a book written by Judy who holds dreams of publication. Whether or not she is successful, I will leave you to find out. However I will say that I felt that this subplot worked well and did not detract from the main storyline.

I am intrigued by stories of the dark arts and this is what led me to read BSP. The descriptions of Maggie as she battles with her lack of ability then subsequently her extreme powers and personal demons, are so believable. The novel is set in an era where the public were obsessed with contacting spirits and it demonstrates the great lengths performers would go to fulfil this. The final chapters leave you feeling both a sense of happiness and a sense of sorrow, but the ending is somewhat fitting for all characters.

I have already asked Alan Williams if there is another book on the pipeline and he assures me that he is "nearly there". I, for one,cannot wait to purchase a copy. Whether or not that involves the Cloak sisters is not known, but there is plenty scope for development of their storylines, so I hope we have not seen the last of them. Great novel!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Blackheath Seance Parlour, 26 Jan. 2015
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blackheath Seance Parlour (Kindle Edition)
I thought this would be my sort of book but in the end I was quite disappointed with it. Two sisters run a sweet shop in Victorian Blackheath but business is not doing well and a lot of the time they are hungry and cold. Both drink to escape their problems and Judy, the younger of the two is writing a novel. Excerpts from this novel are interspersed with the events of their current story. A murderer is preying on young women crossing the Heath at night and everyone is scared to go out at night.

The sisters finally agree to start a new venture in conjunction with a psychic - Netta Walters. Maggie, the older sister is not at all keen on the idea but finally agrees to starting The Blackheath Séance Parlour. It is an almost immediate success and when Judy's novel is accepted for publication it seems as though things are looking up for all three of the women.

The characters are well drawn and the atmosphere of Victorian Blackheath is well done but I found some of the novel really gruesome and found myself skipping some of the novel within a novel. It is definitely not for the squeamish. The problem I felt was that much of the horrific violence could have been excluded without affecting the story. It seemed to me that it was included with the intention of shocking the reader and it just spoiled the book for me. Others may enjoy the book but I found it just too much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story with some unusual characters who develop throughout the ..., 15 Aug. 2014
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A great story with some unusual characters who develop throughout the book.

Without giving any of the storyline away, briefly, story itself begins with two sisters stuck in a routine and life that has very little reward. They rely too much on each other for company but you feel they almost resent each other for it. Not actually in complete agreement with each other they embark on a new business venture, a seance parlour. From the offset of their new business, the sisters relationship begins to deteriorate, all past and present memories are brought to the fore and they struggle to maintain any sort of normality. Throughout, and running parallel to the story is another, a fictional one which one of the sisters is the author of. However, this in itself has repercussions on their already haphazard lives.

This book has a lot going for it, its entertaining and has much to keep you thinking without being unnecessarily complicated. The characters are funny and captivating, even when they are being dreadful and quite unpleasant! I would definitely recommend this book....in fact, I think it would make a great film.....I said it first!!!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 19 Aug. 2013
My husband bought this book and I picked it up to see what it was about. I read the first page and I was hooked. You will put it down reluctantly because you've got things to do, but you'll be running back to it to find out what happens next. There are some genuinely shocking bits involving the scientist and some really touching and funny moments. It's a difficult book to categorize, yes it's historical fiction, yes it's horror, but it's funny and so much more. I've not read a book like it but I'll look out for what he writes next. The characters are awesome, I loved them, got angry with them, I even cried at one point which I REALLY wasn't expecting! My husband is tearing through it. I want him to finish so we can talk about it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended with reservations., 7 Feb. 2015
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
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An interesting and highly original, but also flawed, novel from a talented writer whose imagination, enthusiasm and ambition aren't quite matched at this stage in his writing career, by his literary craft. Although far from the disaster some Amazon "reviewers" have indicated, this book is not the fully crafted masterpiece others have claimed too. The anachronisms are rather sloppy as are the verbal cliches and the book does feel rather long but clearly the author has considerable talent and it will be interesting to see his future work. This bold attempt at something different is recommended with reservations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine read!, 11 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Blackheath Seance Parlour (Kindle Edition)
Talk about a page turner, I was completely hooked from the first paragraph and it didn't let me down. Read it and then read it again. Extremely atmospheric, well defined characters, exciting and undpredictable. A fine read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars I was annoyed to have to put it down, 30 Jan. 2015
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For those who don't know it, Blackheath is a suburb in south-east London that has managed to retain a little bit of a village feel to it, despite being over-run by estate agents. I live there and I confess that I bought this book (from the village bookshop, of course) mainly because it was clearly a "local" story and I was intrigued by the title. It sat in my pile of "books to read" for about a month but once I started it, I was annoyed to have to put it down.

I won't relate the plot; some reviewers have already revealed too much. Bit suffice to say that after a slightly slow start there are plenty of twists and turns, including one that caught me completely by surprise. Perhaps unusually, the main characters are all women and are well drawn whereas the men, with one notable exception, are mainly foils. In that way, it's an interesting reversal on the novels of the period in which it is set. It's also pleasing that while the author has clearly done his research he doesn't clutter the narrative with superfluous information to demonstrate the point.

Since I finished it I've been raving about this book to all the "reading" friends that I know. The last book to have that effect on on me was The Time Traveler's Wife. I bought about a dozen copies of that and gave it to people as Christmas presents. I may do the same with this. As a final endorsement: my wife, who rarely has time to read, picked it up and finished it in a day, which is some recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'll never look at Blackheath in the same way again, 7 Nov. 2013
By 
Sonya Alford (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Cutting Edge Press very kindly sent me a copy of 'The Blackheath Séance Parlour' when I expressed my interest in it. I was immediately drawn both to the cover and the title.

It is 1842 in Blackheath and Judy and Maggie Cloak's family chocolate shop is doing badly. Whilst drunk the sisters decide on their future together. They hardly have any money to buy food with and they know drastic action has to be taken before they starve to death. Judy has come up with what she considers to be a very good idea, but Maggie isn't so keen on it and puts her foot down immediately. Judy doesn't give up though and is determined to get her way.

A month later and with the help of a medium called Netta Walters, a séance parlour comes to Blackheath Village much to the shock and dismay of the locals. Curiosity soon gets the better of people though who want to be able to contact their loved ones and the shop starts doing really well. However, a rift starts to develop between the sisters. Judy writes a novel and gets it published, meets a lovely man and seems to have more of a gift for contacting the dead. This creates jealousy with Maggie deciding something more needs to be done.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book especially as it's a subject I am interested in. I really liked Alan Williams' writing style throughout. I found him to be very descriptive right from the first chapter where he described the storm over the heath. I am not far from Blackheath and know the area quite well so I recognised a lot of the places mentioned in the book which to me made it even more interesting to read.

Judy was my favourite character in the story and I so wanted her to be happy. Maggie with lots of practice developed the ability to be able to contact the dead which did actually help, but things went too far and I couldn't help feeling bad for her. This story seemed so real to me at times and I don't think I will ever look at Blackheath in the same way again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 28 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Blackheath Seance Parlour (Kindle Edition)
I dawdled about buying the book for a year or more, but eventually gave in, out of curiosity as much as anything else. Then I sat on it for a fortnight before beginning to read.
I started one evening and continued for two hours, the longest I've spent in a book in several years.
The rest is history, I have rediscovered reading for pleasure.
I loved the quirky nature of the story, and the story within a story. This was great fun and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a great yarn and isn't afraid of good fun
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