Three Victorian teens in 1901 Cambridge, England, become perilously embroiled in the Society for Metaphysical Research’s deadly investigations of paranormal phenomena.
After masquerading as a spirit apparition for a charlatan medium, 14-year-old Kate Poole finds herself on the street when society members expose her employer’s fraudulent practices. Desperate and pragmatic, Kate arrives at Summerfield College, where society member Oliver Thompson discovers she’s the illegitimate daughter of his late friend and offers her a temporary job. Here, Kate meets Thompson’s impulsive niece, Elsie Atherton, and skeptical Asher Beale, son of Thompson’s American colleague. Elsie suffers from seizures, during which she sees and hears spirits of the recently deceased, while Asher’s estranged from his father and at loose ends. When several dead bodies surface on campus, raising disturbing questions, Kate, Elsie and Asher bond as they explore how far society members will go to test their theories of near-death experience. Gensler captures the suspenseful atmosphere of a time when people were obsessed with the paranormal and loosely bases many characters on historical figures prominent in psychical research during this period.
Lovers of intrigue should enjoy this lively Victorian mystery whose teen heroes experience danger, romance and ethical dilemmas as they delve into “the dark between.” (author’s note with references) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)