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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Echoes Of M R James

The Seance - John Harwood

This gothic mystery story set in Victorian times has echoes of M R James. In elegant prose, Harwood conjures up the brooding presence of Wraxford Hall, a great decaying manor house in the Suffolk countryside, two of whose owners have disappeared without trace. This dark presence looms ominously over the four linked narratives that together make up the complex and sophisticated story of The Seance.

My only criticism is that the plot is just a little too convoluted at times so that one has to keep pausing and looking back to work out just exactly what is going on. But that is part of the author's technique. The desire to have all your questions answered drives you on relentlessly so that are compelled to keep reading until the very last page. Together with this coiled spring of a plot the strong characterisation, evocative description and tight narrative control make this a very accomplished piece of work.