As most know, I don’t usually don’t do spoilers. But with The London Seance Society, I have no choice. So this is your warning.
From Sarah Penner, author of the sensational bestseller The Lost Apothecary comes a spellbinding tale about two daring women who hunt for truth and justice in the perilous art of conjuring the dead, in The London Seance Society.
1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.
Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. So when Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime but perhaps entangled in one themselves…
The London Seance Society By Sarah Penner- Review
First, I must thank Becky (Crooksbooks) for supporting me through my hiatus (we were still buddy reading!) and getting back to my site. I m so excited about the books and reviews coming your way from us! Please see Becky’s Review of The London Seance Society (linked).
I believe Becky and are on the same page regarding how we will review Sarah Penner’s The London Seance Society. Nonetheless, after reading The Lost Apothecary (Becky’s Review), we found The London Seance Society disappointing.
In The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner created strong female characters and friendships. In addition, Penner created two storylines that seamlessly work together to create a smash historical fiction story. However, while there are things to enjoy about The London Seance Society, there is more that was utterly frustrating.
The London Seance Society By Sarah Penner: The Good
I’m not trying to be salty. Truly. With that in mind, I will start with the parts of Penner’s The London Seance Society that Penner nailed. Unfortunately, some of this intertwines with what is awful, so take a good look at both sections.
- The dedication I utilized in the featured image is brilliant.
- The atmosphere is fantastic. Sarah Penner generates a moody London that contributes to the ideas of secret societies and seances.
- Sarah Penner can write her ass off. There is no doubt about her writing skills. Her writing is on point from The Lost Apothecary to The London Seance society.
- Towards the end, there are many red herrings around who killed who. It is executed expertly.
- Another reveal in the book is the plot to marry off wealthy widows to suitors by killing their husbands. Then they hold these fake seances to convince them to move on and suggest who to move on with.
For those who are audiobook inclined, the narrators are fantastic!
The London Seance Society By Sarah Penner: The Fugly
See what I did there? I skipped the bad because the parts of The London Seance Society that miss the mark are fugly. But, unfortunately, Sarah Penner lets some of The London Seance Society get away from her.
- Sexual Abuse and sex selling (selling sex to have fake seances, nonetheless). Let me be clear. I’m never the feminist in the room. I don’t have any issues with these topics being included. Hell, I read so many psychological thrillers; how could I object to it? However, here is the key: execution, execution, execution. And not only is this twist of the story poorly executed, but it also causes a cascading downfall of issues with the rest of the book.
- The pacing is so far off the grid that it resembles a traffic jam. Part of this is because of the above. The repetition of the above, hell the inclusion of the above, throws the entire story off, including its pacing.
- The red herring around the murders was plenty to include without #1. But unfortunately, the story became convoluted with all these moving parts.
- Predictability. Again, because of the parts of the story that don’t work, much of it becomes predictable. One of many predictable parts is the whole… is Ellie a part of the society or infiltrating it to get information and bring it down. I won’t answer, but it is easy to deduce when reading the book.
- As another part of this (again of many)? Are the seances fake or real? Or are some fake and some real?
The London Seance Society By Sarah Penner: Final thoughts
As you can see, the fugly parts kill the enjoyment of the features that work. If you take out the sex-selling and predictability pieces, you are left with a faster pace. You are also left with two solid reveals: marrying off wealthy widows and the murder red-herring. However, the fugly exists. I honestly don’t know if I’ll read Sarah Penner again.