Historical Fiction: The Spiritualist, by Megan Chance

The Spiritualist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To office assistant Evelyn Graff, it seems like a fairy tale when the handsome Peter Atherton, one of the wealthiest bachelors in Victorian Manhattan, proposes marriage to her. She can’t believe her luck when his family readily accepts her, and suffers disappointment as her husband grows neglectful of her. One evening, Evelyn reluctantly accompanies Peter to a society seance, even though she’s not a believer. Three days later, his body is discovered floating in the river, and, the following week, a horrified Evelyn finds herself in a holding cell, accused by the powerful Athertons of his murder. Peter’s law partner undertakes her defense, and as she searches for exonerating evidence, Evelyn finds herself pitted against the city’s most influential medium in the dark world of the occult.

The Spiritualist, though competently written, is not particularly original in its Svengali-type plot. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce the identity or motive of the real killer. Nor is it especially spooky. Evelyn, however, is a spirited protagonist and there is an intriguing outcome for her as she becomes aware of some hidden talents. The period atmosphere is also good. Recommended for readers looking for an undemanding, entertaining book to while away a long winter’s evening.

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