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August 23 , 2007

In the Tenth House

A Novel


London, 1896: Dr. Ambrose Gennett can’t shake the fear that gripped him when he heard her voice. On the train platform in Kensington, he went to the aid of a woman hurt in an accident. He didn’t know her, but she knew him–she saw things he had never revealed to anyone. She spoke prophecy and then disappeared into the crowd.
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Gennett is a “mad doctor,” one of the few physicians in London aware of the new Freudian theories of the mind. His confidence shaken by the encounter, Gennett vows to find this young woman again, partly to help her and largely to prove to himself that she is not as supernatural as she seems. She has to be either mistaken or mad.

The truth is much worse.

Lily Embly is a fake medium but a real psychic–or at least she believes she is. Struggling to free herself from a lifetime of poverty and schooled as a charlatan by her mother, Lily works the strings and magnets of trickery at séances that have become wildly popular in Victorian England. Her false spirit messages are guided by the tarot cards and horoscopes she consults in secret. But when her mother falls ill, debt threatens to destroy them both.

Desperate, Lily has teamed up with a dangerous con man, Monsieur St. Aubin, to pull off a risky–and potentially very lucrative–séance. And when Gennett discovers that his own sister has fallen under the sway of the spiritual frenzy that has gripped the city, his sanity depends on exposing Lily as a fraud.

Only one can be right, and only one will survive.

Richly atmospheric, In the Tenth House conjures up a world of obsession and passion; it transports readers to an era that saw science and faith collide. Full of wit, insight, and fascinating historical detail, it is an astonishing debut.

From the Hardcover edition.
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