From the bestselling author of The Egyptologist and Prague comes an equally accomplished and entirely surprising new novel. Angelica is a spellbinding Victorian ghost story, an intriguing literary and psychological puzzle, and a meditation on marriage, childhood, memory, and fear.
The novel opens in London, the 1880’s, and the Barton household is on the brink of collapse. Mother, father, and daughter provoke each other, consciously and unconsciously, and a horrifying crisis is triggered. As the family’s tragedy is told several times from different perspectives, events are recast, and sympathies shift; nothing is at it seems. These differing accounts appear to contradict each other, but each one casts new light—and new shadows—on the others, and on the desires and fears that drive these vivid characters.
In the dark of night, a chilling sexual spectre is making its way through the house, hovering over the sleeping girl and terrorizing her fragile mother. Are these visions real, or is there something more sinister, and more human, to fear? A spiritualist is summoned to cleanse the place of its terrors, but with her arrival the complexities of motive and desire only multiply. By day, the mother’s failing health and the father’s many secrets fuel the growing conflicts, while the daughter—innocent and vulnerable, or precocious and manipulative—flirts dangerously with truth and fantasy.
Reminiscent of classic horror tales such as The Turn of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House, Angelica is also a thoroughly modern exploration of identity, reality, and love. As in Phillips’s previous works, the reader is an active participant, challenged to untangle the truth of of this dire mystery. Angelica ultimately is an investigation of how people try to explain themselves to the world and the world to themselves.
In this mesmerizing and provocative novel, acclaimed author Arthur Phillips examines the intersection of haunting and psychology, where fears can give birth to the very specters that inspire them. Set at the dawn of psychoanalysis and the peak of spiritualism’s acceptance, Angelica is also an evocative historical novel that explores the timeless human thirst for certainty.