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For fans of Cold Mountain and The Alienist, the stunning debut novel of historical suspense about a charismatic conman hauntedperhaps literallyby a ghost from his pastBoston, 1870.PhotographerEdward Moody runs a booming business capturing the images of thespiritsof the departed in his portraits. He lures grieving widows and mourning mothers into his studio with promises of catching the ghosts of their deceased loved ones with his camera. Despite the whispers around town that Moody is a fraud of the basest kind, no one has been able to expose him, and word of his gift has spread, earning him money, fame, and a growing list of illustrious clients.One day, while developing the negative from a sitting to capture thespiritof the young son of an abolitionist senator, Moody is shocked to see a different spectral figure develop before his eyes. Instead of the staged image of the boy he was expecting, the camera has seemingly captured thespiritof a beautiful young woman. Is it possible that the spiritphotographercaught a real ghost? When Moody recognizes the woman in the photograph as the daughter of an escaped slave he knew long ago, he is compelled to travel from Boston to the Louisiana bayous to resolve their unfinished businessand perhaps save his soul. But more than one person is out to stop him . . .With dramatic twists and redolent of the mood of the Southern Gothic,TheSpiritPhotographerconjures the Reconstruction era South, replete with fugitive hunters, voodoo healers, and other dangers lurking in the swamp. Jon Michael Varese’s deftly plotted first novel is an intense tale of death and betrayalthat shows us how undeniably the ghosts of the past remain with us, and how resolutely they refuse to be quieted.
|Publisher:||The Overlook Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Jon Michael Varese is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is currently the Director of Public Outreach for The Dickens Project, and has lectured and written widely on nineteenth-century literature for several outlets, including the Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Spirit Photographer, a story that evolved from his work in nineteenth-century American history, is his first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The title and cover photo drew me to this novel. I've been really into historical fiction lately and as a genealogist, this was my kind of story. It's set after the Civil War has ended and a photographer, Moody, has had his fill of photographing depressing battle field images. So he sets about doing photographs in which the deceased images show up in portraits of family members. There was a big belief in spiritualism at that time and the author certainly did a good job at facts on that. Also how things were during that period in history. The part set in New Orleans was described very realistic. I could see the Spanish moss hanging from the trees from the descriptive words of the author. It was an interesting book that anyone into historical fiction would enjoy! * I was provided an ARC to read from the publisher and NetGalley. It was my decision to read and review this book.
Jon Michael Varese brings us an excellent tale based on facts of the reconstruction years following the Civil War. We travel from Boston to New Orleans and into the cypress swamps with photographer Edward Moody and his black assistant Joseph Winter following the long cold trail of Isabelle, once loved by both men in their own way. And with Senator James B. Garrett and his wife Elizabeth we are exposed to the vague influence of Washington DC and the already looming spyglass of public awareness on all things political. Things legal greet us from the very public trial of Edward Moody for swindling many credulous persons, leading them to believe that his spirit photographs are true representations of the spirits of their lost love ones. In the process we find complete immersion into the spirit of life in this telling decade of American History, as the nation tries to heal and move onward from the devastation of the Civil War. I found this novel very informative of many facets of life in the 1865 - 1870's America. Varese presents us with aspects of travel, police procedures, immersion of freed blacks into the cloth of civilization, and even Voodoo practices as well as the history of the Spiritualists and Scientists in America during those critical years. But The Spirit Photographer: A Novel, is first and foremost an entertaining tale, hard to put down. I can happily recommend this novel to friends and family. It is difficult to believe this is a debut novel. I will look for more coming out by this gifted author. I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Jon Michael Varese, and The Overlook Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.