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The Possessions: A Novel
     

The Possessions: A Novel

4.5 2
by Sara Flannery Murphy
 

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"I was totally immersed in the strange, beautiful world of Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions. A gripping, chilling read that’s part love story, part mystery, and completely original, it’s sensuous, scary, and utterly thrilling. I’ve never read anything quite like it." —Anton DiSclafani, author of The

Overview

"I was totally immersed in the strange, beautiful world of Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions. A gripping, chilling read that’s part love story, part mystery, and completely original, it’s sensuous, scary, and utterly thrilling. I’ve never read anything quite like it." —Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

"An enthralling meditation on grief and memory cloaked in suspenseful psychodrama, The Possessions dissolves the boundaries of past and present and artfully, heartbreakingly maps the consequences of transgressive desire. Sara Flannery Murphy has written the best kind of ghost story." —Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as "bodies", wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.

A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 11/07/2016
Behind the reassuringly bland facade of the Elysian Society, dramatic, distressing, and sometimes dangerous scenes play out daily as the bereaved seek to communicate with their departed loved ones, in Murphy’s suspenseful supernatural-tinged debut, set on the gritty side of an unnamed U.S. city. The bridges between the living and the dead are people referred to as bodies, such as the young woman known as Eurydice (aka Edie), who after ingesting pills called lotuses can summon these spirits. The work perfectly suits emotionally guarded Edie, who apparently wants nothing more than to lose herself after a traumatic past, which only gradually emerges. But her carefully maintained shell starts to crack when she begins sessions with Patrick Braddock, an attractive lawyer, whose stunning wife, Sylvia, drowned 18 months earlier under suspicious circumstances. As Edie finds herself sexually drawn to Patrick and experiencing disturbing flashbacks, which seem to come from Sylvia, her efforts to investigate what happened that night at a lake outside the city—and its potential connection to a recently discovered Jane Doe—land her in very real jeopardy. Those ready to buy into the author’s premise will be rewarded by a beautifully rendered, haunting page-turner. Agent: Alice Whitwham, Alice Whitwham Agency. (Feb.)
Kathryn Davis
“Sara Flannery Murphy casts a spell as devilish and dazzling as the language she uses to cast it. Once you enter the erotically charged, psychologically gripping world of her debut novel, The Possessions, there is, truly, no going back or getting out.”
Kiristine Huntley
“Murphy’s sublime debut is immersive from page one…. A complex novel that is both unforgettable and impossible to put down.”
Helen Schulman
“A literary descendant of the iconic novels Rebecca and Never Let Me Go, Sara Flannery Murphy’s haunting, auspicious debut explores the enduring nature of grief and guilt and the myriad ways the uses of the body can stave off the loneliness of the soul.”
Robin Wasserman
“An enthralling meditation on grief and memory cloaked in suspenseful psychodrama, The Possessions dissolves the boundaries of past and present and artfully, heartbreakingly maps the consequences of transgressive desire. Sara Flannery Murphy has written the best kind of ghost story.”
Anton DiSclafani
“I was totally immersed in the strange, beautiful world of Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions. A gripping, chilling read that’s part love story, part mystery, and completely original, it’s sensuous, scary, and utterly thrilling. I’ve never read anything quite like it.”
Christopher Bollen
The Possessions might be the most affecting, riveting novel about love and obsession I’ve read in a decade. Sara Flannery Murphy possesses the dystopian imagination of Margaret Atwood and the keen feminist incisiveness of Heidi Julavits, but the haunting, seductive prose is all her own. This is a literary ghost story for a whole new generation.”
Cosmopolitan
“Lush, hair-raising.”
Hank Stephenson
“The numerous mysteries that weave in and out of the main plot add a page-turning element to the book, and another ingredient to Murphy’s intriguing genre fusion.... The Possessions is difficult to classify but very easy to enjoy.”
Portia Kapraun
“This poignant tale is a study of grief and obsession…. Murphy’s imaginative debut is a haunting ghost story and a thrilling mystery that will engross readers until the final page.”
Amanda Trivett
“An addictive, slow-burning mystery that fuses classic noir with the intrigue of speculative fiction... Murphy ensures compulsive page-turning until the past and future of each character is unveiled, and the crescendo of that reveal is heady and satisfying.”
Refinery 29
The Possessions (a Gone Girl-esque twisty thriller about a woman who tries on dead people’s souls for size).”
People
“A suspenseful debut novel that’s stylish and deliciously creepy.”
Kirkus Reviews
2016-11-07
In Murphy's debut novel, people can reconnect with the dead through the Elysian Society, whose employees—known as "bodies"—are temporarily possessed with the help of a drug called a "lotus."Eurydice, or Edie, as she is better known, has worked as a body for five years when she meets Patrick Braddock, who wants to connect to his beautiful late wife, Sylvia. From the beginning, she finds herself strangely drawn to Patrick but also to pictures of Sylvia, and when Patrick breaks protocol and gives her many of Sylvia's possessions to use during her channeling, Edie is unable—and unwilling—to refuse. As Edie falls deeper into lust with Patrick, she can't let go of Sylvia, whose spirit seems to have taken possession of the corners of her soul and body, and she continues to investigate the mysterious circumstances that surround Sylvia's drowning. Meanwhile, a highly publicized murder turns out to be connected to the shadowy Elysian Society. The novel's power lies in a careful balance between concealment and explanation. For example, it isn't until Edie watches one of the other bodies channel a dead spirit that we as readers understand how the process works and, more important, how the bodies act when they're channeling. The psychology is endlessly fascinating, and there should have been a chance for deep exploration of grief's clarity and its selfishness. The weakness is Edie herself. She often references her plainness, the fact that her personality has a certain blankness that better allows her to channel others, but this blankness also renders the narrative voice both emotionless and self-righteous, so it can be hard to connect to and feel sympathy for the character. Imaginative and original, this is a novel that should have resonated more deeply.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062458322
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/07/2017
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
41,832
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son. The Possessions is her first novel.

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The Possessions: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
CharlotteLynnsReviews 14 days ago
3.5 STARS The Possessions is such a different story. The idea of using another person’s body to connect with a love one that you lost is intriguing. Everyone has lost someone and wishes they have more time with someone they lost and this is one way of doing so. Eurydice, aka Edie, takes her job as a “body” serious, very serious. Usually the body only last for a short time but Edie manages to make it last for 5 years. Edie takes her clients on to help them connect with the dead. Usually she doesn’t form any relationship with her clients and has never had any memory of what actually happens once she takes the lotus pill. So when Patrick comes to connect with his dead wife she is happy to assist. For some reason she becomes more invested in his relationship with his wife. She puts herself into Patrick’s life over and over again becoming closer and closer to him. I could see where this was heading. Yet, I didn’t see the secrets of Sylvia and Patrick’s marriage. With each twist and turn I was more fascinated by the marriage and Sylvia’s death. Edie’s history is a total wipe. There are no hints, no clues until the very end. I wish that Sara Flannery Murphy had dropped hints as the story went on. As much as I was curious about Edie her personal story did not seem to have any real effect on the rest of the story. When Edie’s past is told it did make sense as to why she acted certain ways or reacted to different events. This was an easy read. I found it a fast read. I’d recommend picking up your own copy.
Honolulubelle 20 days ago
Favorite Quotes: The sensation is as unsurprising now as drawing a breath or falling asleep. A numbness spreads across the body, the blood growing sluggish. The eyelids turn weighted. The body is rearranging itself to make room, my consciousness rising and scattering like wary birds sensing an unknown presence. The sensation of Sylvia’s presence is there and gone, like catching a shadowy movement from the corner of my eye. I’m brushing my teeth. I blink, and my reflection is a stranger’s; blink again and I’m myself. We stare at each other. My gaze is twice as dense as his. It’s the unevenness of a roomful of people staring at one subject. He must sense it too; he breaks eye contact to look at the floor. We met when we were both roughened and torn, our hearts tattered enough to snag on each other’s. My Review: Edie is employed as a conduit or “body” for channeling the dead for those seeking closure as they mourn their lost loved ones. There are strict rules at the Elysian Society, the agency where she worked, rules Edie had never considered breaking, until recently. The plot was unique, ingenious, and perfectly crafted. The writing was exquisitely detailed, richly textured, vibrantly alluring, and fiercely enthralling. Written from a first person POV, the narrative was smoothly polished and intensely compelling. I was transported and firmly implanted in Edie’s body, or maybe I was channeling her? I believed I even felt her woozy sensations from the effects of her trance-inducing medication. Ms. Murphy has deftly produced not one but three gripping mysteries in a book packed with intriguing characters and a smartly written and pulsating storyline.