Friday, August 19, 2016

A Ghost's Story by Lorna Gibb


A Ghost’s Story is an intriguing book, as it presents the tale of Katie King not a famous medium but a famous ghost. Although it is Lorna Gibb’s first work of fiction there are a number of real people included in the story. There is correspondence between Bob Loomis, Senior Librarian at the Magic Circle and the author herself who has received the Katie King ‘spirit writing’ from the Magic Circle archive, this writing is interspersed with a manuscript from an Italian Bookshop named after Katie King and the academic notes of Adam Marcus who had been investigating the manuscript prior to his death.
The narrative is in the voice of John/Katie King a celebrated spirit who visited a number of mediums during the 19th and early 20th century when séances and an interest in the spirit world were at their peak. Moving between America, Britain, Russia, Italy, France and Canada we observe Katie’s growth as she gradually begins to affect her surroundings, to be heard by those she is drawn to and even to enter into the mediums she visits.

Written in a vivid lyrical style the sense of passing time as Katie witnesses the changes in the places and people she visits and tries to be perceived and believed is beautifully rendered. Gibb’s research is meticulous and the unusual framing makes this a genuinely compelling read. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in Victorian spiritualism but its unique style will undoubtedly mean its appeal will be much broader.
Published by Granta 2015
This review originally appeared in The Historical Novel Review Magazine. 

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