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The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner
Gothic fiction

The London Séance Society

Repeat author

Sarah Penner is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Lost Apothecary.

by Sarah Penner
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Quick take

From the author of The Lost Apothecary, a gothic fable teeming with mystery & occult forces, where none can be trusted.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_International


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Glamorous



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. 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 . . .

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of sexual assault.

Why I love it

Some books conjure a world so rich and mesmerizing that while in their company they seem to cast new light on your own reality. Suddenly, you are reading into every shadow in your room. Was that noise you just heard an unknown presence hiding just from view? The London Séance Society is just such a book; it will have you questioning everything you think you know about life’s everyday mysteries. Prepare to be looking over your shoulder for awhile.

When her sister dies unexpectedly, Lenna Wickes seeks out a renowned spiritualist on the outskirts of Paris who quickly conscripts her to be an understudy. Lenna is skeptical of the occult arts but agrees so that she can continue unraveling the mystery of her sister’s death. The duo are soon called to London to support an investigation of the London Séance Society, a renowned men-only group of spiritualists. It quickly becomes clear that not all is as it seems and they may already be embroiled in a mystery, not simply trying to solve one.

In her sophomore follow-up to The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner has fashioned an irresistible and truly immersive Victorian gothic tale. This is a book shrouded in creepy atmosphere and chock full of fascinating characters and incidents. The London Séance Society is already one of my biggest literary highlights of 2023! And I bet it will beguile you too.

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