The Dark Between, by Sonia Gensler

Apart from an overly poetic opening sequence that compares the heroine to a “leggy foal contorted in the womb” (seriously), Sonia Gensler's novel The Dark Between is an enjoyably atmospheric and unpretentious historical fantasy-adventure story.

Set in 1901 Cambridge, Gensler's novel shifts between three perspectives. Kate is a pragmatic, quick-thinking orphan, Asher Beale is a wealthy American who has recently been exiled from his family home, and lovely, fragile Elsie Atherton has been shipped off to stay with relatives while she recovers from a bizarre illness. The three teenagers are drawn together by a series of unlikely coincidences, but their newfound friendship—as well as their combined talents—has inexplicably attracted the attention of the Metaphysical Society, a group of spiritualists attempting to find a way to contact the dead.

The Dark Between features one great protagonist (Kate), one that is enjoyable enough (Asher), and one that I constantly dreamt of slapping (stupid Elsie). To be fair, there is a painfully clunky sequence at the end of the novel that attempts to explain away Elsie's general uselessness (in a nutshell: her unfeeling parents turned her into a boy-crazy tool), but it's difficult to care about someone whose choices were constantly self-destructive. Happily, the other two characters, combined with Gensler's gift for hinting at intriguing love triangles and memorably creepy villains, more than make up for her.

My other significant complaint about this story is that it is clearly set up for a sequel, which the author was still playing coy about in this October 12th interview. I assume Gensler's publishers are waiting to see how well The Dark Between sells before authorizing another installment, so I'm hoping it rakes in the cash. I definitely want to see more of these characters (well, apart from Elsie), and The Dark Between left a few too many strings dangling to truly satisfy as a standalone novel.

Review based on a publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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