Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen
Debut author Sara Flannery Murphy drew me right in with The Possessions and kept her hooks in me until the very end. The plot line of this first novel sounded similar to the canceled-too-soon TV show Dollhouse, which was a favorite of mine, so I simply had to read it. Written in first person, The Possessions is a raw account of a troubled young woman’s intriguing career as a “body” for the Elysian Society. Eurydice, as she calls herself, though this is not her true name, lends her body to clients who are looking to gain closure with loved ones who have passed on. She studies photographs, listens to personal stories, and even wears the clothing of the deceased ones before she swallows a pill called the lotus, which allows her to summon the spirit of the deceased.
Eurydice has always played by the rules of her employer—until Patrick Braddock hires her to channel his wife, Sylvia, who died by drowning. She becomes not only obsessed with the mysterious nature of the death, but also with Patrick himself, jeopardizing not only the Elysian Society, but her own safety as well. Giving in to her own longings for Patrick unburies truths from her past that Eurydice has disconnected from for years, and she must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to forge a new path for herself.
First of all, Murphy has an absolutely beautiful writing style. It was both haunting and flowery without being overbearing; there were so many passages about love, obsession, and death that I wanted to bookmark to look at again in times of need or to share with friends. Secondly, a world where something such as the Elysian Society could exist is enticing; if there is someone that you didn’t have the chance to say good-bye to or that you wanted to talk to just one more time—would you, and what price tag would you be willing to pay? Also, a world in which this type of profession existed would most definitely change how the world could investigate murders, as Eurydice finds out when she discovers a connection between a dead body, a past employee, and Patrick Braddock.
I honestly have very little to criticize about this amazing debut; if there is one thing I wish could have been different, it’s the details of Eurydice’s past and how they were presented to the reader. Toward the end of the novel, seemingly in one breath Eurydice reveals everything about herself. I’d even begun to wonder if I’d ever find out anything about her, until it came out all at once. Instead, I’d have preferred to find out details about her throughout the novel. Despite this one little thing, The Possessions was still an incredible read, and I’ve already found myself recommending it to friends and coworkers. Murphy’s writing career is definitely off to a brilliant start!
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.