Review: 'The Possessions' by Sara Flannery Murphy (2017)
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.
Earlier this year I received a fantastic book box from publisher Scribe which made me a very happy book blogger. The box included the great ‘Girl Waits with Gun’, which I reviewed a few weeks ago (click here to read my review), and the straight away intriguing ‘The Possessions’ by Sara Flannery Murphy. I had already read some things about this novel, which was released in February 2017, and have to say I was straight away fascinated by the description of the story and curious to discover what the book would be like. It is not the type of read I usually go for, but I always like to step outside my reading comfort zone every now and again, and ‘The Possessions’ seemed like the perfect read to do just that…!
Twenty-something Eurydice has quite a unique job, working as a body for the Elysian Society. Being a body means she is able to provide a link between people and their deceased loved ones. By taking a ‘lotus’, Eurydice is able to become a channel for the afterlife, giving customers a chance to make contact with people they’ve lost. Eurydice has been successfully doing this for several years now, mainly thanks to her ability to detach herself quite easily from it all. Until she meets widower Patrick Braddock, who wants to get in touch with his deceased wife Sylvia. Eurydice can’t help but develop feelings for Patrick, but the more she gets to know him and the more she channels Sylvia, the more difficult it becomes to let her go again. As her own life and Sylvia’s seem to become one, Eurydice is forced to deal with some of her own secrets and Patrick’s, having to decide how far she is willing to go for love and whether she wants to risk losing herself along the way…
‘The Possessions’ is author Sara Flannery Murphy’s debut novel and to me personally it was the first time reading a book with this particular kind of storyline. Main character Eurydice, also known as Edie, has a rather unique job; she works for the Elysian Society as a body, making it possible for the deceased to once again get in touch with their still living family and loved ones. I have to admit this idea immediately intrigued me and I was incredibly curious to see what the author would do with it, since it can be the base of all kinds of fascinating stories, I think. However, perhaps I was expecting a bit too much, because I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down by the novel. Especially the fact that there was no real big climax or ending which the story was working towards was slightly disappointing.
I also had difficulty connection with main character Edie; it was tricky to really feel for her, since she didn’t really seem to have a lot of personality, in my eyes. Perhaps if the novel had a bit more background information on its characters, I would have been able to understand their actions better. I want to point out I did enjoy Sara Flannery Murphy’s writing, and thought it was quite an impressive debut; it just wasn’t as much of an original and great read as I was expecting it to be, which also has to do with my personal expectations, obviously. Overall, ‘The Possessions’ is a thought-provoking and intriguing novel; not exactly what I had hoped it would be, but it has definitely made me curious for what else this author will bring us in the future.