For five years now, Edie has been employed by the Elysian Society. Here, workers called bodies offer themselves up to the dead and the living - playing host to the deceased and giving their family and loved ones a chance to reunite and work through their grief. No one stays as long as Edie, but she has her reasons. And it's really just a job: there are procedures and rules to keep everyone safe - no suicides, no touching - and of course only scheduled interactions.
Edie never gets attached and never breaks the rules. Until now. A new client has brought out a new emotion in Edie. Desire. And whether that desire is Edie's or the client's dead wife's, Edie begins to act on it. But as Edie becomes more wrapped up in this couple and their story, she also finds that the wife's death isn't as clear cut as it may initially have seemed. The circumstances are mysterious, to say the least, and Edie has starts to have flashbacks that seem to be the woman's own memories.
Wow! The Possessions is, regardless of how you feel about it overall in the end, an entrancing and intriguing read.
I thought it was fantastic. The idea that people like Edie offer themselves up as hosts to the spirits of the dead is a strange one to consider. Would you? Or would you be a client, meeting regularly with your channeled beloved? Edie is the body we really get to know, and again she does have her reasons for working at Elysian Society (which are part of the story as well). It's clearly a job that's not meant for everyone, though. Bodies come and go and no employee comes close to Edie's five years there.
There's a starkness to Sara Flannery Murphy's writing that I found incredibly intriguing. Edie is not one to wax poetic about anything. And as our narrator, she controls the story, sharing what she sees and knows with the reader. Don't get me wrong, she gives us plenty of detail about her job and her world, but she also keeps a lot to herself. For me, it added to the suspense of the tale.
And there is plenty of suspense. Not only is Edie's newest client potentially hiding something (yeah, he maybe could have murdered his wife!), there's another murder that's caught the attention of everyone around the Elysian Society. The body of a girl found in an abandoned house just before it was to be torn down is a story that winds its way through The Possessions. Again, as Edie catches pieces of the headlines and such. And they mystery of that death becomes a bigger part of Edie's story as the book progresses.
What's interesting, too, about The Possessions are the questions it brings up. Again, if this were a service that was offered would you partake? At one point, a character notes that Elysian Society doesn't allow suicides because they won't force those departed to come back when they so clearly wanted to leave. The comment is countered by the question as to whether any of the departed want to come back. And because Edie isn't present during the actual encounters, we don't really know what goes on between these deceased and the people paying to communicate with them...
Again, I thought The Possessions was fabulous! Really an amazing debut!
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