This masterful historical novel by Deborah Noyes, the lauded author of Angel & Apostle, The Ghosts of Kerfol, and Encyclopedia of the End (starred PW) is two stories:
The first centers upon the strange, true tale of the Fox Sisters, the enigmatic family of young women who, in upstate New York in 1848, proclaimed that they could converse with the dead. Doing so, they unwittingly (but artfully) gave birth to a religious movement that touched two continents: the American Spiritualists. Their followers included the famous and the rich, and their effect on American spirituality lasted a full generation. Still, there are echoes. The Fox Sisters’ is a story of ambition and playfulness, of illusion and fear, of indulgence, guilt and finally self-destruction.
The second story in Captivity is about loss and grief. It is the evocative tale of the bright promise that the Fox Sisters offer up to the skeptical Clara Gill, a reclusive woman of a certain age who long ago isolated herself with her paintings, following the scandalous loss of her beautiful young lover in London.
Lyrical and authentic—and more than a bit shadowy—Captivity is, finally, a tale about physical desire and the hope that even the thinnest faith can offer up to a darkening heart.
$25.95 US / $29.95 C | Fiction Hardcover | 6x9 | 352 pages
ISBN: 978-1-936071-63-0 | Carton Quantity: 20
Here is how the Fox sisters teach the dead to speak. Maggie and Kate are giddy with fear on the mattress when Ma comes running with the candle. “We’ve found it out,” they cry, and Ma’s monstrous, flickering shadow rounds the bedroom wall. She nods hard, poor soul, hefting the candle higher, and her hand shakes. “It” is the rapping that’s robbed them of sleep and peace for so long, a hellish business, and who can bear it? Not Ma, surely.
She’ll have to, thinks Maggie, who is filled with fate as a sail is for going. Yes, they’ll go, she understands, from Wayne County with its brittle fields and trees—an unrelenting patchwork of brown and white to which spring takes its sweet time coming—and it won’t be long. Even Ma’s weary, pious face can’t prevent it. As if reading Maggie’s thoughts, her younger sister, Kate, springs out of bed and snaps babyish fingers. “Follow me,” she orders, and how can Maggie not? Who can take their eyes off Katie Dear, so like a blithe spirit herself, all hush and mischief in her threadbare shift? Snap snap, and then, in the shadow of Kate’s trailing hand, rap rap, audible as a heartbeat, deep inside the house.
“Here, Mr. Splitfoot.” Kate claps milky hands three times. “Do as I do.”
Rap rap rap.
The phantom makes the very walls quake, it seems. Beneath the spectral racket, Maggie hears the usual soft sounds of night, the ordinary unease of their little rented saltbox cottage: mice scrabbling in the walls, moaning March wind, creaking cold floorboards. These were lonely sounds before and chilled her, but now and suddenly she misses them. Almost.
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