What do you get when you take a podcaster and live-in aunt and give her a podcast winter break and send her live-in nieces back to their dad's for a few months? A slacker, that's what.
Since my last blog post, I've traveled with Josh to Seneca Falls, NY (and surrounding areas--I MISS YOU, CANADA!) for the It's a Wonderful Life Festival, and driven myself absolutely crazy trying to read consistently while also finalizing that ever-present Christmas to-do list. With Christmas now firmly in the rear-view and from the depths of my new heated blanket (AND heated shoulder wrap, hello life of luxury), I have time and spoons to tell you about The London Seance Society.
The plane rides to and from Buffalo, New York earlier this month consisted of The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner and I couldn't be more thankful for that respite. I'm a very nervous flyer, so traveling back in time was a fascinating escape.
The London Seance Society takes place in 1870s Paris and London. In it, we follow an ethereal, highly esteemed medium and spiritualist Vaudeline D'Allaire and her more skeptical, science minded apprentice Lenna. Lenna is seeking answers that Vaudeline may have about the murder of Lenna's sister Evie, as Evie was Vaudeline's previous apprentice. Vaudeline, who had previously fled London under mysterious circumstances, is unexpectedly summoned back to perform a seance for her dear friend Mr. Volkman, leader of the London Seance Society, who was murdered the same night as Evie--All Hallows Eve. His colleague, Mr. Morley, tells Vaudeline that he is convinced that a seance, and communication with Mr. Volckman, would uncover details that would lead them directly to the killer. To do this, Vaudeline and Lenna must spirit themselves from Paris to London, and lie in secret in the belly of the London Seance Society, a paranormal gentlemen's club where women are expressly forbidden.
I really appreciated how this book was dual POV: Lenna's and Mr. Morley's. It gives appropriate backstory and an insider's view into the inner workings of the London Seance Society, as well as views from an outsider hiding inside its walls. They also have drastically different personalities, which was fascinating to jump back and forth between--especially in the later chapters as more information is brought to light.
I already knew that I loved Sarah Penner's writing style from The Lost Apothecary, and The London Seance Society was no exception. This book was truly a roller coaster of emotions. It was more of a murder mystery than I expected, but I really enjoyed having my suspicions early on, then learning whether I was right or totally off base. (Non-spoiler spoiler alert: I was right!)
As someone married to a paranormal investigator in the 2020s, my favorite part of this book was read about techniques and methods that the Victorians used to communicate with the dead, many of which Penner explains in an Afterword are historically accurate. The Victorians, apparently, had somewhat of fascination with Death and the dead, and seances were a quite regular occurrence. Reading this book even prompted me to add a few less traditional, less technologically advanced, more "old school" paranormal gear under the tree for my husband this year.
The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner is out March 31, 2023, and I seriously cannot wait for more people to read it. It has Sarah Penner's trademark poignancy that will leave you all in your feels, while also having you longing to take a trip to 1870s London, if only for a moment.
Preorder your copy here.
Love and women infiltrating the gentlemen's club,
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley for free and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).