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In the Tenth House    by Laura Dietz order for
In the Tenth House
by Laura Dietz
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Lovers of prose set in Victorian times will read this novel nonstop. Author Dietz has caught all the mysteries of the occult and much of contemporary medical science and wrapped it up in a tale of mystery and (truly) star-crossed love.

Ambrose Gennett, a doctor much more modern than his colleagues would like, bumps into Lily Embly, a fake medium. When Lily says things Ambrose has not told to anyone and then disappears, Ambrose is wild to find her, partly to help her and partly to convince himself that she does not have the supernatural powers she seems to be showing. When his half-sister and aunt become infatuated with Lily, inviting her to give sťances for their friends, but keeping him from her, Gennett is apoplectic. He neglects his practice, and she, in debt, puts her trust in the wrong person. The climax comes in two scenes that take place, appropriately enough, at a sťance and an asylum.

This is an impressive first novel. Dietz has created a past that feels so real we can taste, smell and touch it. London in all its richness and poverty comes to life with characters that, if not totally well-rounded, are richly imagined. And the undercurrent of greed that runs through it all is palpable. The plot races along, even though it is quite intricate. Most interesting is the treatment offered to patients and the inside look at the medical establishment. Dietz shows a wonderful sense of place and time with this tumultuous story.

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