cover image Captivity


Deborah Noyes, . . Unbridled, $25.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-1-936071-63-0

Noyes (Angel and Apostle ) is so constrained by, or perhaps so entranced with the true story of the 19th-century mediums Maggie and Kate Fox that she founders in crafting a satisfying novel based upon their lives. The story opens in rural New York in 1848, when teenage Maggie and her younger sister, Kate, claim that rapping sounds in their house emanate from a ghost whose murdered corpse is buried in the basement. It ends a decade later, after the sisters have achieved widespread fame for their séances. The Fox sisters are credited with inspiring the American Spiritualist movement, which grew rapidly for the rest of the century. Noyes includes some of the key figures who spurred the movement's popularity and aptly draws upon the themes of classism and sexism that influenced its leaders with wonderfully lavish period detail. Viewpoints alternate between Maggie's and her friend Clara Gill, an Englishwoman with a tragic past, but Clara's life seems hopeless from the beginning and the reader is kept at a frustrating distance from Maggie's inner thoughts. The legend of the Fox sisters is intriguing; however, Noyes adds little illumination to the nonfiction canon. (June)