Paperback: 339 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 22, 2015)
The shadows of Venice have long inspired writers—from Henry James and Thomas Mann to Daphne DuMaurier and Ian McEwan. Now, its Megan Chance’s turn, as the acclaimed novelist takes readers through the alleys and canals of this ageless and mysterious city in her compelling new book, The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story (Lake Union Publishing; September 22, 2015).
Part haunted tale, part love story, part mystery, this riveting historical novel explores the truth behind a terrifying reality, as a young American woman, immersed in a strange foreign culture, encounters a world beyond her wildest imaginings. Buried secrets of a tragic past converge, threatening to destroy not just her hopes of redemption, but her very life.
Set in 1884, The Visitant paints an unforgettable portrait of a decaying city and the secrets that lurk in its dark, crumbling corners. Elena Spira has arrived there to take up the duties of nurse to a young epileptic man who has descended to the depths both physically and psychologically. Samuel Farber wants none of Elena’s help as he wallows in a laudanum-triggered haze of hallucinations. Samuel speaks of visits from a spirit, seemingly wild claims that Elena first rejects as drug-fueled. But, the truth is far more sinister. When Samuel’s best friend and host, Nero Basilio, arrives, Elena finds herself drawn to this charming man as he shows her the hidden delights of Venice. But there are dark forces at play—forces that Elena cannot begin to comprehend. Casa Basilio possesses a tragic history, and a ghost whose presence may be driving Samuel to madness.
The Visitant finds Megan Chance working at the peak of her storytelling powers.
“Chance’s Venice is glittering, mysterious, sophisticated…” –The Seattle Times on Inamorata
“…provocative and haunting. Chance’s quietly powerful tale will appeal to fans of well-detailed, mysterious, and romantic historical fiction.” –BookList on Bone River
A man with secrets. A woman with a debt to repay. And a troubled man who will push them both to a revelation.
Elena Spira is determined to help an epileptic man overcome his condition, but the more she gets to know him the more she wonders about his true affliction. And whether she can help at all. Along the way, she uncovers a mystery bigger than her medical scope.
Can she help Samuel without hurting herself?
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. It sounded intriguing, but I usually prefer character development to fast-paced mystery... action designed to distract you from poorly drawn characters.
But this book was a beautiful balance of characters, intrigue, mystery, paranormal, and emotions. I cared about the characters, which made the intricate plot development all the more enjoyable.
Adding to this... the another interwove historical elements (both in the time and the location) to amplify both the characters and the situations they found themselves in.
And it never lowered to cheap tricks to shock me. From page one, I felt invested and hungry for what came next.
The Visitant is a unique, captivating read, and I highly recommend it.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Megan Chance is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of historical fiction, including Inamorata, Bone River, and City of Ash. Her novels have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices and Book Sense programs. A former television news photographer and graduate of Western Washington University, Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.
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Thanks to TLC for my review copy.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
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