Book Review: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

What if you could talk to your loved ones from beyond the grave? Not through hoax séances and fake mediums, but through a real organisation, with real results? Would you reach out to your dead partner, son, or daughter?

Eurydice, or Edie, works as a Body with the Elysian Society. Her job is to connect people with their dead loved ones by letting the souls of the dead enter her body for a brief moment. When she vacates her own body, she doesn’t remember anything afterwards, and Edie is happy doing this job for her clients. She is content with her life and has lasted for a long time in a line of work where no one stays long. Edie follows the rules and doesn’t question them. She listens to the Society’s madam, Mrs Renard, and is deemed one of the group’s most trustworthy Bodies.

Until the day she meets Patrick Braddock. Edie becomes intrigued by Patrick and his dead wife, Sylvia. The more Edie channels Sylvia, the stronger her attraction for Patrick grows. Even the mysterious circumstances of Sylvia’s death don’t discourage Edie from wanting to know more about the Braddock’s life together.

She becomes so obsessed that for the first time in her life as a Body, Edie breaks the rules, and breaks them big time. She secretly purchases more lotus pills, the pills that allow her to empty her body so she can be used as a vessel, and offers private sessions to Patrick, allowing him to be with Sylvia as husband and wife.

Edie’s entanglement with the Braddocks makes her curious about how Sylvia really died. She digs into their past more and more, learning dark things about the couple, while trying to hide her own dark past at the same time.

The Possessions is an interesting read, to say the least. The concept of someone allowing their body to be used by the dead raises a lot of questions about morality, especially when Edie decides to meet Patrick in private. Sara Flannery Murphy writes Edie’s thoughts so masterfully that it is easy to understand why she deviated from her simple, uneventful life after meeting Patrick. You can’t help but feel sad for her but also angry at her recklessness, risking all that she worked for to pursue someone she barely knows.

Murphy thus takes you on a slow, yet thrilling ride into the protagonist’s descent into obsession. You might hate Edie for her actions and find yourself annoyed by her stupidity sometimes, but you will want to know what she does next. And to uncover what she’s been hiding all this time.

Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book two is set for release this year.

Join us

Become a member of the NSW Writers' Centre to get Newswrite magazine, discounts to courses and festivals, mentorship, free access to writers' groups, writers' spaces, members' events, the library and more. Join now ›

Follow us on