cover image Spitting Gold

Spitting Gold

Carmella Lowkis. Atria, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-66802-495-9

In Lowkis’s magnificent debut, a spooky scam hatched by a pair of spiritist sisters in 1866 Paris causes them to reexamine their beliefs. As young girls, sisters Charlotte and Sylvie helped to support their family by staging séances for the gullible and bereaved. Sylvie, now in her mid-20s, is the reputable wife of a baron when Charlotte, six years her junior, cajoles her into fulfilling a request from the noble de Jacquinot family to make contact with an ancestor killed during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. The de Jacquinots’ frail and sheltered daughter, Florence, is the only one in the family who claims to have seen the ghost, which the others are intent on contacting in hopes it will lead them to a family treasure. As the sisters become involved, they’re surprised to witness actual evidence of paranormal activity. Lowkis skillfully orchestrates the contentious relationship between Sylvie and Charlotte, each of whom resort to subterfuges and schemes, and pulls off a series of surprising twists that completely change the shape of the story. It’s an auspicious first outing from a writer to watch. Agent: Ginger Clark, Ginger Clark Literary. (May)