Angelica by Arthur Phillips

Fearful of her husband’s sexual advances, a young mother falls into a spectacular case of hysteria–that might not be all in her head.

Angelica is yet another neo-Gothic tale, set in a Victorian England conjured more from literature than from history. It has all of the elements you’d want: repressed sexuality, midnight visions, hysteria and a spiritualist, all rendered in gorgeous, sumptuous prose from four different points of view.

Arthur Phillips does a masterful job with allusion, keeping some very key things out of sight of the reader, effectively creating suspense and building a strong sense of atmosphere. Even though I knew that I was dealing with at least one unreliable narrator, I wasn’t able to see through that narrator’s lies with any confidence. The story doesn’t hang on a trick, as you find in movies like The Sixth Sense and The Others; rather, an aura of misperception colors the entire book. It’s a most enjoyable read.

I’m not sure what I make of the resolution, though. I’m declaring the comments thread a spoiler zone so if you’ve read Angelica, do let’s talk.

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