THE SOCIETY REVIEWS: Paraic O'Donnell's THE HOUSE ON VESPER SANDS
Paraic O'Donnell's first novel to be published in the U.S. for Publishers Weekly in late 2020 but was recently reminded again of just how much I relished it so thought I'd note it here. As I wrote in the magazine, the novel opens as "1893 London is abuzz with stories about the Spiriters, a shadowy group allegedly led by the wealthy Lord Strythe that’s said to steal the souls of working-class women. One winter night, seamstress Esther Tull jumps to her death from a window in Strythe’s home trying to escape from her usual work stitching intricate white gowns to the measurements of women she never sees. After Inspector Cutter of New Scotland Yard unsuccessfully seeks Strythe for questioning about Tull’s death, Cutter connects the case to the plight of former millinery worker Angela Tatton, who speaks deliriously about dark air and brightness and is confined to a hospital....Making smart use of classic gothic imagery, O’Donnell excels at concocting eerie scenes. Yet he’s also very funny, particularly in exchanges between the profane Cutter and the verbose but perceptive Bliss. Fans of Sarah Perry (not to mention Dickens and Wilkie Collins) will be captivated by this marvelous feat." Highly recommended for those who enjoy spooky Gothic novels with a paranormal flavor.