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The House on Vesper Sands Reviews

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell

The House on Vesper Sands

Paraic O'Donnell

4.86 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publication date: 18 Oct 2018
ISBN: 9781474600392

'The most vivid and compelling portrait of late Victorian London since The Crimson Petal and the White' Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent 'Like the love child of Dickens and Conan Doyle, but funnier than both' Liz Nugent, author of Lying in Wait A story of snow and Spiriters, cops and columnists, wickedness and love in Victorian London.

  • The GuardianBook of the Year
5 stars out of 5
25 Oct 2018

"a cracking good read"

... O’Donnell has pulled off with brio something that might, in a lesser writer’s hands, have fallen horribly flat: he has written a coherent and satisfying novel that is both disquietingly eerie and properly funny... O’Donnell dispenses the waspish wit of the beau monde with Wildean relish... Yet none of this detracts from the unsettling strangeness of the book’s central mystery... The dramatic denouement is striking and pleasingly unexpected. And while the laughs provide welcome respite from the darkness, their greater achievement is to bring a kind of bracing tenderness to a tale that might, in these #MeToo times, have felt voyeuristic and exploitative. Beneath its spooky exterior The House on Vesper Sands is a paean to the unshowy virtues of determination, diligence and loyalty. It is also a cracking good read. The book ends with an epilogue that could be dismissed as superfluous, except that it plainly lays the ground for a sequel. Regardless of where one ends up filing this novel on the bookshelves, that is excellent news for us all.

Reviews

5 stars out of 5
20 Oct 2018

"The House on Vesper Sands is brilliantly written, compelling and satisfying in so many ways"

It takes a certain audacity to write a novel that tips its hat so mischievously to the most celebrated Victorian novelist, but Paraic O’Donnell has more than enough talent to get away with it... The plot zips along, tension rising as the investigation draws towards Vesper Sands and a series of revelations that touch on issues of class, mistreatment of women, power and privilege. But O’Donnell doesn’t break off to moralise. The pace never drops. Nor does he get bogged down in world-building, the fatal flaw for so many historical novelists... There is the sense that you are in safe hands, that O’Donnell has done the research so that you needn’t worry about it, that you can safely lose yourself in the world and mystery that he has so skillfully created... Despite the historical setting this is a thoroughly modern novel, with fully developed characters grappling with their own psychological issues... The House on Vesper Sands is brilliantly written, compelling and satisfying in so many ways... I only wish it had been twice as long.

4 stars out of 5
Alice O'Keeffe
6 Jul 2018

"Reading this terrific Victorian-set mystery was the most fun I've had in ages"

Reading this terrific Victorian-set mystery was the most fun I've had in ages. I'm slightly reluctant to attempt a plot synopsis, as it unfolds so thrillingly and cleverly that I don't want to spoil it for future readers. So I'll reveal only that it takes place in London over the winter of 1893, and involves a nave student of divinity at Cambridge University, a world-weary police inspector and a restless society columnist, who are all drawn in to the same mystery: the disappearance of young, vulnerable Angie Tatton, who was last seen being watched over by shadowy figures... Do not miss....