• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: Harper (February 7, 2017)
“I was totally immersed in the strange, beautiful world of Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions. A gripping, chilling read that’s part love story, part mystery, and completely original, it’s sensuous, scary, and utterly thrilling. I’ve never read anything quite like it.” —Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
“An enthralling meditation on grief and memory cloaked in suspenseful psychodrama, The Possessions dissolves the boundaries of past and present and artfully, heartbreakingly maps the consequences of transgressive desire. Sara Flannery Murphy has written the best kind of ghost story.” —Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire
In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.
In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies”, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.
But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.
After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.
A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.
I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.
The Possessions is about a girl named Eurydice, or Edie, who works as a body. People discreetly hire her to channel their dead loved ones. They literally inhabit her body for a short period of time. She has been working in this industry for years and has been successful due to her being able to disconnect from her body and clients during these sessions. Until she meets the one client and his late wife that seem to continuously inhabit not just her thoughts, but her body as well. The book explores the mystery surrounding her death, Edie’s past and the death of Hopeful Doe – the moniker given to an unknown girl whose body was found in an abandoned house close to Edie’s work.
When I read the first paragraph of this book I was hooked and immediately thrust into this story. For me, it was immediately reminiscent of Atwood’s, A Handmaids Tale. It had a similar atmosphere, although not so much in the latter portion of the book. I fell in love with the writing in this book. I thought it was gorgeous and atmospheric – perfect for this type of story.
The concept itself is one that I found to be wholly fascinating. I am not very familiar with mediums but I imagine this is somewhat similar although this seemed more on the possession side, hence the title. I found a lot about this book to be very compelling like the black market movement of this type of service vs the legit service given by organization like Elysian Fields, morality issues and this society’s views on death.
This book was really fascinating to me and made me think about death in a few different ways. I was not expecting that from this book. I admit that I was immediately drawn in by the cover because it is absolutely gorgeous but it was a completely different book than I thought. I was very pleasantly surprised. I have a hard time placing this book in a particular genre as the author melded different aspects of many genres in this one story – mystery, obsessive romance and a somewhat dystopian feel. I had a few tiny issues with it that were far overshadowed by my overall experience with this book. It was a little slow at times and I craved more detail about certain things. When I finished this book I definitely wanted more of it. I read this book with a glass of wine after a long day of work and I enjoyed it so so much.
The story was fascinating, shocking, interesting, provocative and eerie all in one breath. This is a debut novel and since it was so great, I can’t wait for more from Sara Flannery Murphy. 5 stars!
About Sara Flannery Murphy
Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son. The Possessions is her first novel.