“A brilliant, deeply unsettling work.” Books + Publishing
Jeff is dying. Haunted by memories and grappling with shame, he runs away to a remote part of Scotland with a piece of beta tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. Instructed to only use it three times, Jeff – self-indulgent, isolated and deteriorating – ignores this advice.
In the late 1860s, Leonora lives in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by nature. Contemplating the social conventions that bind her, her contented life and a secret romantic friendship with the local laird are interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh. But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions.
A Superior Spectre is a novel about curiosity, entitlement and manipulation. It reminds us that the scariest ghosts aren’t the ones that go bump in the night, but those that are born and create a place for themselves in the human soul.
By: Angela Meyer
Published by: Saraband Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2019
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Content/Trigger Warnings: [My apologies on slacking on these lately] This has molestation & child molestation, abuse, thoughts of pedophilia, death and brief suicidal thoughts and a rough view of mental illnesses due to institutional care available in the Victorian era.
This is a book that is chilling and haunting in the most unexpected ways. Firstly it’s truly a blend of genres. It is a sci-fi yet also a historical fiction, and at the same time a horror/thriller in its own right. And while this may sound like a mess, it’s done SO well that it doesn’t feel like they’re all jumbled together.
Please bear in mind this is quite a heavy read due to its content but it’s actual length is not.
The two protagonists are completely different and though there’s not much to like about Jeff, it is possible to see why he has dipped into Leonora’s mind repeatedly.
Leonora is certainly the more sympathetic of the two characters, an unwilling host to a man whose thoughts have no place in her mind. She’s a woman who has loved animals and had a curiosity of sciences and anatomy, a woman that like many during her time, were ‘progressive’ in their wants knowledge. Still, she enjoys the simple life she’s had at her Father’s home and though Edinburgh has some interesting aspects, it’s still home she yearns for.
With everything she goes through, you truly want her to be free in every sense of the word, from Jeff, from expectations, from her family’s desires, and it’s her that I cheered for while reading.
The difficult premise though was put in a tasteful manner, because, unfortunately people like Jeff [and people much worse than Jeff] are a reality. I thought his story’s ending was completely fitting for him, and I didn’t hate him, but I certainly had a hard time sympathizing with him. That being said, the choices he made were in attempt to be something different than what he was and that was something to think about.
One of my favorite things Meyer did was to make this a spine tingling read, you felt like there was something always just out of sight, and it’s the sort of tension I like in a ‘scarier’ book.
A great read, but again, a heavy one. I give it four cups of coffee and if you think you can handle the premise, I recommend it, especially with October approaching if you want a spooky read.
Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review
About the Author
Angela Meyer’s Joan Smokes won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Competition in 2019. Her short fiction has been widely published, including in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings. By day she works as a publisher for Echo Publishing, an Australian imprint of Bonnier Books UK, and in this role has discovered and developed a range of award-winning, globally published and bestselling talent, including global number one bestselling author Heather Morris. A Superior Spectre, Angela’s debut novel, is already shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards.
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