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The Séance Audiobook

The Séance

Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance's sister, the child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a séance; perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life. So begins this brilliant and gripping novel, a dark mystery set in late-Victorian England.
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Publisher's Summary

A haunting tale of apparitions, a cursed manor house, and two generations of women determined to discover the truth, by the author of The Ghost Writer.

Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plow the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there…

Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance's sister, the child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a séance; perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.

So begins this brilliant and gripping novel, a dark mystery set in late-Victorian England. It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black-hearted villains - and of murder. Constance's bequest comes in two parts: a house and a mystery. Years before, a family disappeared at Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside with a sinister reputation. Now the Hall belongs to Constance, and she must descend into the darkness at the heart of the Wraxford mystery to find the truth - even at the cost of her life.

©2009 John Harwood (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (93 )
5 star
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3.8 (90 )
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4.2 (90 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    twoseagreeneyes 07-06-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Great Victorian Period Read"
    What made the experience of listening to The Séance the most enjoyable?

    I think that the multiple narration, broken into sections worked well and added to the books overall appeal.


    What other book might you compare The Séance to and why?

    None that I can think of.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    I really liked the narration of the male characters, but felt the author has a wonderful grasp of the female characters.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It did keep me wanting to listen to more once the story got going. It was a little slow to build, but got better as it went on.


    Any additional comments?

    For a girl, growing up in the Victorian era has its own difficulties, but for Constance Langton things are far more ghastly than properly worn bustles and guarded reputations. Her mother is in an everlasting state of mourning over the loss of her youngest daughter Alma and her father is as detached, cold and indifferent as a wet fish. Forlorn, Constance makes a desperate attempt to bring her mother peace by arranging a séance’ which leads to Constance finding herself all alone in the world.


    An unexpected inheritance befalls her in the form of an old, dilapidated and crumbling mansion with an ominous history. Constance becomes obsessed with disentangling the web of peculiar and eerie happenings the mansion has held for several generations and in doing so, finds her mind on the precipice of insanity and her life in mortal peril.
    The author, John Harwood, does an excellent job of portraying the female character in this Victorian setting, which makes it easy to identify with the characters and follow the storyline with eager interest. The twists and turns of the mysteries surrounding the mansion and Constance’s life bind into a clever, believable conclusion.

    I listened to the audio version of the book and I felt the narration was good although it did take me a bit to warm up to one of the narrators. There is one scene in particular where I felt the narration was too loud (even though shouting was taking place), but overall the multiple narrators introduced in separate parts worked quite well.

    The story does take its time to build, but is worth the wait. I would recommend this book for its grasp of the era, the intricate story that beseeches being pieced together along with it skillful narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen United States 03-09-14
    Karen United States 03-09-14 Member Since 2016

    BigZ's Mom

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great narration lifts up an average story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Séance the most enjoyable?

    All three narrators were very good. They easily moved between characters and had excellent pacing.


    Would you be willing to try another book from John Harwood? Why or why not?

    I'm not sure. The plot was complicated, but not difficult to predict.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    All three are consummate professionals.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Very predictable gothic romance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joeyaynn Fresno California 09-29-15
    joeyaynn Fresno California 09-29-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Seance"

    I started the first couple chapters of the book reading the hardback and downloaded the audio because I could not stop reading. The barley was captivating. I could see the imagery while listening. So good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-01-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wait, what?"
    Where does The Séance rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is ranks right in the middle of the audiobooks I've listened to so far.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I'm not sure what would have made it better. The double story lines were OK, but some of the characters were just plain annoying.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I really liked the narration of this book. Her voices really brought the story more depth.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    It's a good "read" but a little disappointing in the character development.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KG 05-18-16
    KG 05-18-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Great Gothic"

    I love gothic novels, but sometimes find them frustrating due to the overworked language. As an example, I will point out "the turn of the screw, where the author takes about 4 pages to simply say " she saw a ghost". though I understand that the idea is to build up suspense, it ends up having the opposite effect on me, and at some point I'm just furiously screaming at the book "I get it! there is a scary ghost! now move on with the story!"

    The seance manages to capture the best of gothic without the excessive writing of the genre. Though I would classify it as a gothic novel, I must mention that when you get past the "paranormal" elements, what you actually have here is a good old-fashioned murder-mystery. The narrators all did a wonderful job, I enjoyed all of the interpretations thoroughly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chandaelaine 07-09-15 Member Since 2015

    Writer/Artist/Photographer

    ratings
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    "Not what I expected..."
    Any additional comments?

    I wanted to like this story.

    Though the title, cover, and book's blurb are all accurate, the road the author takes the reader along is cumbrous and filled with long, unnecessary idles.

    The story eventually comes to a rather "neat" conclusion, though there were several earlier points at which a more satisfying ending could have been reached. When listening to the final section it sounded as though someone was standing over the author's shoulder saying, "I don't like that. Write a few more paragraphs. Ah...no. That's not it either. Just a couple more paragraphs and then you'll have it. Oh, and if you could tack on a romance at the last second, please do."

    While two of the three voice performers did quite well with the material, the actress who performed the final section of the story was overwrought, shouting rather than emoting. Unfortunately, this only served to further highlight the cobbled together feel of the entire section.

    Three out of five.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Downing-Vest 09-05-14

    Love Mysteries, History, Economics, Sociology, Poetry, Photography & Bauhaus Design.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator Yells"
    Would you try another book from John Harwood and/or the narrators?

    Yes - per the author John Hardwood. Maybe - per the narrator, pending they don't yell.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Ok. Not predictable. But the narrator was a bit annoying.


    Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

    Maybe - pending they don't yell.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Maybe


    Any additional comments?

    The story is promising. However, the primary narrator(s) yells. She seems to be approaching the narration as if she were performing from a stage, and overprojects her voice. In short, a bit overacted with loud outburst of yelling.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L Met 12-13-14
    L Met 12-13-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator killed it for me."
    What disappointed you about The Séance?

    I couldn't bear it when the narrator spoke when she was in trance pretending to be her sister. I really don't like it when adults try to fake kids voices. It's like Minnie Mouse on steroids.


    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    My personal preference is just that they read the book. I'm not a fan of turning a book into a radio play.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I don't know. I had to stop listening to it. And thats a shame because I enjoyed his other book and was really looking forward to this one.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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