Thursday, October 19, 2023

Book Review: The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: March 7, 2023
Publisher: Park Row
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: The Lost Apothecary
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says,"A spellbinding tale about two daring women who hunt for truth and justice in the perilous art of conjuring the dead. 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…"



Vaudeline D'Allaire, a respected medium, arrives in London in 1873 along with her apprentice, Lenna. Vaudeline is known in many circles as being able to find out who the murderer in many unsolved murder cases through her seances. This is what attracted Lenna to Vaudeline, as Lenna's sister was also Vaudeline's apprentice and a medium in her own right. Lenna's sister, Evie, tragically died on All Hallow's Eve and Lenna, even though she doesn't believe in the occult, wants answers and who better to answer them than Vaudeline? All of this leads them to Mr. Morely, the director of at the London Seance Society. Mr. Morely has problems of his own in that he is tasked with finding out what happened to the Seance Society president who also died on All Hallow's Eve. Again, who better than Vaudeline to find out the truth? So, all the characters collide and that's when the true mystery begins as many characters are hiding dark secrets. Sarah Penner's The London Seance Society is an entertaining mystery filled with many Gothic elements, which makes it a perfect read for October.

Vaudeline is an interesting character in 
The London Seance Society. For the time period women are forced into subservient roles, but when Vaudeline is running her seances, she is in charge. Vaudeline is a difficult character to get to know as Lenna tries to crack her shell. After all, she is the only one that could possibly know what happened to her sister Evie, and the truth surrounding her death. However, Lenna is a skeptic, so ultimately, she is challenged by Vaudeline as working as her apprentice puts her in many positions that question her initial thoughts surrounding the occult. To top it off, the two start to have feelings for one another, but during the Victorian period, this wasn't accepted. There's obviously an arduous road up ahead for both women and I do appreciate Penner giving this novel a feminist perspective much like she did in The Lost Apothecary.

The chapters from Mr. Morely's point of view were also done well in The London Seance Society. I was interested in who he was, why the president of the Seance Society died, and if Mr. Morely was behind any of the questionable things that have been occurring. He holds a lot of secrets and I was flipping the pages that included flashbacks between him and Evie as he knows Lenna's sister well.

Penner brought the time period to life very vividly as well as details surrounding the Victorian period, the people's interest in seances, funeral customs, and the occult. I was defintiely intrigued by it all and appreciated the information at the end of the book explaining it in more detail. My only issue with 
The London Seance Society was the rushed romance towards the end of the book. I think that could have been fleshed out a bit more. Nonetheless, The London Seance Society was a fun romp through the parlors of Victorian England. While I liked The Lost Apothecary a bit more than this sophomore novel, I still enjoyed this mystery and recommended it as a fun addition to your spooky season TBR list. Let me know in the comments if you've read The London Seance Society and if you are a fan of Sarah Penner.


  1. The Victorian period is so interesting! I love how this book really brings it to life with all those little details.

    1. Right? The Victorian period was a wild time! It was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the book. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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