What if it were possible to communicate directly with the dead? This has been a yearning people have had for centuries, which people have tried to meet by seances and mediums. Now Sarah Flannery Murphy has a different, and fascinating, take on how this might be done in her debut novel*, The Possessions.
In an unnamed city there’s a business called the Elysian Society where, for a price, you can get a “body” to channel your loved one and communicate with you as if your loved one were still there with you. The “bodies” are people who are able to do this by putting on the clothing and artifacts of the dead and taking a drug called “lotus”, which submerges the owner’s personality and numbs his or her mind so the mind and personality of the deceased person can take over. Naturally, the more you take a drug like that, the worse the effects are on your own personality.
Our main character, Eurydice (points to the author for her Greek mythology references), has been a “body” for four years, which is practically a record. Her ability to survive and even thrive in this business is due to her ability to detach herself completely from what she’s doing. No involvement, no concern about the people she’s interacting with: that’s the way to keep herself safe.
Naturally, there comes a time when that doesn’t work. Eurydice channels Sylvia, who recently died, and she finds herself intrigued with the lives of Sylvia and her widower husband, Patrick. For the first time, she’s breaking her own rules and pursuing Patrick outside the Elysian Society, and channeling Sylvia outside the Society as well. This is dangerous for several reasons: she’s losing her sense of the difference between her thoughts and desires and Sylvia’s, and there are questions about Sylvia’s death which still aren’t resolved, not to mention some secrets Eurydice has been trying to keep about her own past.
What happens when you channel the dead and then you can’t let go or they won’t let go of you? Read The Possessions and find out what happened to Sylvia, and what happens to Eurydice and Patrick in the strange world of the Elysian Society.
*Yes, that’s right, for those of you doing the 2017 Reading Challenge, this counts as a debut novel!