Magicians with murky motives clash in Gilman's (The Rise of Ransom City, 2012, etc.) peculiar spiritualist fantasy, which incorporates a healthy dash of Edgar Rice Burroughs and perhaps a hint of Lovecraft.
Barely employed journalist Arthur Shaw meets occult stenographer Josephine Bradman during the terrible London storm of 1893. It's love, but a literally star-crossed love, as Josephine becomes drawn into the affairs of the Company, a magical society that is attempting to psychically journey to the celestial spheres beyond Earth. When Arthur rashly interrupts one of these astral attempts, Josephine's consciousness is lost near Mars and its two moons, and Arthur must take her place in the Company in order to get her back. Despite the fact that this novel contains many characters with telepathic powers, it's difficult to penetrate their motivations. Arthur wants to rescue Josephine, yes, and Josephine wants to go home, but the goals of their fellow magicians in the Company and those of a rival group led by the sinister Lord Podmore seem less clear. Magicians seek power—but power to do what? What does the Company's leader, Lord Atwood, gain by journeying to the spheres? Why is Podmore so anxious to stop them? What role is played by the mysterious woman who calls herself Jupiter? Or the inscrutable Mr. Sun? And who is Mrs. Archer, the crude but powerful crone who watches the stars? We never entirely understand anyone, so it's difficult to have any kind of emotional reaction (positive or negative) toward them. The story seems to drift through strange byways rather than heading in a straight direction.
Odd, unsettling, inconclusive.