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Blackheath Seance Parlour Paperback – 1 Aug 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 180 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cutting Edge Press (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190812251X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908122513
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A great read: funny, thought provoking, and lively. Not to mention a great way to be taken back in time as you walk across the heath. Just take a lantern with you...' - The Blackheath Bugle

'Grounded in realism, with local history spilling out from the pages and characters with an endearingly informal way of speaking that somehow evokes the spirit of the time.' - Emerald Street

'Here's a book that is perfect for the time of year - sibling love and rivalry, dark and broody gothic setting, ghosts and murders. A splash of humour, a lot of pubs and some cracking dialogue.' - Anne Cater Random Things Through My Letterbox

'It is great to see such a mental and unique and intriguing book. The fact that it delves in to historical opinions on the underworld and religion and women's place in society, as well as being a bit crazy and out there is wonderful and pretty darn unique if you ask me.' - Book Geek

'What a read! I honestly had no idea what to expect from this novel, but after a few pages I was hooked by the unusual and original storyline, the strong female characters, and the enthralling writing style of Alan Williams.' - A Spoonful of Happy Endings

'The descriptions in this brilliantly conveyed the dark other worldly goings on and the atmosphere of the book had me feeling like I was right there with the sisters! Fantastically spooky, gripping and gothic! A great read for Halloween!' - --Laura's Little Book Blog

About the Author

Alan Williams worked as a script editor for the BBC, working on "Absolutely Fabulous", "Birds of a Feather" and "Keeping up Appearances" to name but a few. He went on to edit "Writers' Monthly" and launch "Television Essentials" and "Advance Production News". He lives in Blackheath, London, has won awards for his short stories, and includes chocolate eclairs as one of his favourite hobbies.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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".
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was recommended this book on the basis that it was brilliant, bonkers and different. Well, it was all those things and much, much more. Completely not what I had expected, I was caught up in this book from the very beginning. There are so many stories running through it and the inclusion of the sister's novel at the chapter ends makes it feel like you are getting two for the price of one!

I just don't know how to describe it and do it justice - it is by turn gruesome, dark, sad, and funny. I loved each of the main characters, despite themselves and found them intriguing and very human. Some of the scenes in the "novel" were some of the most gruesome I have ever read.

The best recommendation I can give is that I just didn't want it to end.
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Format: Kindle Edition
My own interest as a writer in the spiritualist world of the Victorian and Edwardian eras drew me to this novel, but if you are looking for a good historical novel with plenty of authentic detail then there is much to appeal here. Middle-aged sisters Judy and Maggie Cloak have inherited a shop in the windswept, weather-beaten village of Blackheath on the outskirts of east London, but it is doing badly in its current incarnation as a sweetshop and the Cloak sisters are getting desperate. Judy has ambitions to escape both literally and metaphorically through a gothic novel she is writing, while Maggie seeks solace in drink from her sense of abandonment as a daughter and a prospective wife. Their lives change with the arrival of the rather mysterious Mrs Walters, a woman of some spiritual ability, who soon helps the sisters transform the shop into a focal point for many contrasting things: gossip, hope, faith, belief, mystery, and all the trappings of the occult. But the initial success of tea leaf reading is not enough for Maggie, Judy or Mrs Walters, and the story explores how the paths of each woman diverge as they seek their own resolutions with the past and the future. The novel is also intercut with long extracts from Judy's novel, through which she explores certain aspects of her own reality and the society to which she imagines belonging.

The other main character in this book is the village of Blackheath, and Williams notes at the end of the book that he wanted to do justice to the community and its history as part of his aim in writing the novel. He captures very effectively the bleakness of the heath as it must have been in the Victorian era, and with a subplot around the murder of two girls, he infuses a certain chill in the already atmospheric spiritualist action.
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