Book #26

The Medium by C.J. Archer

Seventeen year-old spirit medium Emily Chambers has a problem. Actually, she has several. As if seeing dead people isn't a big enough social disadvantage, she also has to contend with an escaped demon and a handsome ghost with a secret past. And then there's the question of her parentage. Being born an entire year after her father's death (yes, a year) and without the pale skin of other respectable English ladies, Emily is as much a mystery as the dead boy assigned to her.

Jacob Beaufort's spirit has been unable to crossover since his death. It might have something to do with the fact he was murdered. Or it might not. All he knows is, he has been assigned by the Otherworld's administrators to a girl named Emily. A girl who can see and touch him. A girl who released a shape-shifting demon into the mortal realm. Together they must send the demon back before it wreaks havoc on London. It should be a simple assignment, but they soon learn there's nothing simple when a live girl and a dead boy fall in love.

Emily Chambers is a medium in the late 1800s, making a living entertaining the ladies of the town with her ability to talk to ghosts. Contacting dead husbands to resolve unfinished quarrels isn’t exactly lighting up her world, until her sister invokes a demon and a ghost with a handsome face - which can only be described as otherworldly - comes to help her vanquish the evil spirit which is now wreaking havoc on London.

I do love historical fiction, and I have a steeped interest in the spiritualism movements in these times. With the romantic element involved, I was hoping to read something that would come from Shirley Jackson’s pen after she’d binged two seasons of Bridgerton.

Although the story was engaging, I felt a great deal of my time was spent witnessing lovesickness and angst. There’s a demon on the loose, but instead we’re mooning over a good looking dead guy who flicks between ethereal and corporeal realms quicker than flicking a light switch. Again - there’s a demon on the loose, folks.

Set in a time when spiritualism and mediums were booming, I’d have welcomed some more commentary on the cynicism and hysteria of the time surrounding Emily’s talent and occupation. There were some really interesting opinions at the time, with myth-busters attending most séances to catch out the crooks, and this was something I’d have loved to see.

And yet, although my reflections above are coming a few days after finishing the novel, I did enjoy myself. Spooky period romances are clearly something missing in my life until now.