In the deep of winter 1893, a briskly practical physician named Mrs. Mellon arrives at a New York tenement and takes up her duty to care for the aged, the indigent and the dying. Her patient in the garret, she decides, fits all three categories nicely--that is, before she realizes she is in the presence of a most unusual lost soul: the charismatic Maggie Fox.
Part mystery, part ghost story, part riveting historical fiction, The Dark ushers the reader into the shadowy border between longing and belief as it unfolds the incredible story of the famous and controversial Fox Sisters, Maggie, Katie, and Leah. In their heyday, the sisters purported to communicate with ghosts and inspired the Spiritualist Movement, a quasi-religion complete with mediums and séances and millions of followers.
Now only Maggie is left alive, and Mrs. Mellon is her lifeline to the world. Soon, with Mrs. Mellon's gentle prompting, the wry, black-witted, ever-ambivalent Maggie is revealing her family's secrets. But is Mrs. Mellon her confessor, her saviour, her interrogator--or the last person upon whom Maggie is working her finely honed art?
"Claire Mulligan's latest novel, The Dark, is that rare animal, scarcely seen: a story so compelling it feels destined for bestseller-dom, yet rendered in a style that brings to mind the ever-vivid, perspicacious (and hilarious) Flannery O'Connor. Style meet content; content meet style--Mulligan's novel has it all." --The Globe and Mail