Edie works for the Elysian Society, an organisation which channels the deceased for relatives and friends. By taking a pill (a lotus) the employees can “become” the dead person until the effects wear off. It’s a fascinating premise, developed nicely as the boundaries as to what is acceptable for the lotus takers to do are pushed as the plot builds. Edie becomes attracted to a man who has lost his wife in a drowning accident and becomes obsessed with him- but is this as herself or as his dead wife?
This is an intelligent, subtle ghost story and comparisons have been made to both Margaret Attwood and Daphne Du Maurier but ultimately I think it lacks the depth and richness of their work. Edie’s behaviour is often questionable even if explained away as possession by the dead wife and Patrick really does not seem worthy of her intentions. It’s set up well but the tension for me fizzled out in the last third. A murdered girl sub-plot works nicely alongside the relationship between Edie and Patrick but I think the promise of the ramifications of the work of the Elysian Society, which is the novel’s most fascinating aspect is not sustained throughout as the Edie/Patrick/Dead Wife love triangle becomes the emphasis.
This is American author Sara Flannery Murphy’s debut novel and shows a writer confident with exploring obsession and loss. For those looking for a romantic ghost story with a subtle science fiction edge this is worth considering.
The Possessions was published by Scribe in March 2017. Many thanks to the publishers for the review copy.