Book Review: The Seance

The Seance
Published By: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 2008
Page Count: 272
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Middle Grades & YA - Mystery, Suspense

The Seance is a historical fiction piece that transports readers into the early 1900's when seances were a means of entertainment for the masses. Many believed in the mysticism of the time period and found themselves sucked into the spiritual movement. Famous people such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even found themselves seeking out mediums in order to communicate with the dead.

Iain Lawrence not only provides historical background about the time period and the communing with the dead craze, but also adds another layer by including Harry Houdini in this tale. Houdini was constantly trying to prove that mediums were nothing more than amateur magicians who used their illusions to lure grief stricken people to their parlors in order to empty their pockets for the chance to speak with a loved one who no longer walked the earth. The main character, a youth named Scooter, will find himself becoming acquainted with Houdini as they seek to solve a murder.

I really enjoyed how Lawrence used history, mystery, and suspense within this book. This time period has such interesting quirks and not many YA novels come to mind that explore the spiritual movement in as much detail as this one. In addition, I also really liked that the main character is male. Finding books with strong male characters can often be a challenge, but this is one that I think lots of young teen boys would enjoy reading. Another aspect I really liked was seeing how Houdini fit into everything. He is a figure that has long fascinated many people and I loved seeing how he could be woven into Scooter's world.

I have two major complaints with this read. There were some moments were this read dragged some for me and I figured out who the killer was long before it was revealed. This book could have been a much better read if those two issues had been resolved. However, I would still suggest giving it a try if you enjoy historical fiction and are interested in the early 1900's and the concept of mediums.

One Last Gripe: I felt so bad for all the people throughout the book who were deceived by the mediums.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about Spiritualism

Favorite Character: Houdini

Least Favorite Character: Scooter's mother

SCOOTER KING UNDERSTANDS illusions. In the midst of the Roaring Twenties, he performs them behind the scenes at his mother’s séances, giving the impression that Madam King communicates with the dead. Scooter also admires Harry Houdini and can hardly wait to see the famed magician escape from his razzle-dazzle Burmese Torture Tank. But when Scooter stumbles upon a dead body in the visiting Houdini’s tank, it’s no illusion. Who could the murderer be? And did he—or she—kill the right person?

As Scooter sets out to unmask the killer, the mysterious worlds of mediums, séances, and magic are revealed. No one is above suspicion, and appearances are deceiving. If Scooter doesn’t sort out the clues—and fast—he may end up as the next dead body.