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The Deception

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I feel so bad to DNF a KTB book but I just can't get past the 62% of this book.. I am bored, the characters stay blurry, the story is not taking off, a snooze-fest. The story feels messy. Such a disappointment. This book was the opposite of the excitement and involvement I felt reading After Alice Fell and The Companion.

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I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

October is the perfect month to read the new novel by Kim Taylor Blakemore, The Deception. Set in 1877, in New Hampshire, the novel introduces the reader to the world of the spiritualists, men and women who (ostensibly) tried to bridge the gap between the living and the dead, and the many grieving people who believed in them or wanted to.

It could be lucrative for men and women to lecture on spiritualist topics as well as serving as mediums, staging seances with differing gimmicks to draw people in. Generally, these spiritualists are seen as fraudsters. However, they were quite popular at the time.

In The Deception, one such medium, Maud Price, a one-time child prodigy, is now grown up and has lost the aid of her spirit guide. As a result, she’s no longer convincing and is losing customers to flashier performers of the arts. In desperation, she confides her woes to a fellow spiritualist, who suggests she contact Clementine Watkins for a consultation.

Clementine is a tricky character. Criminal through and through, she and her partner, a failed actor named Russell Sprague, have developed a sideline, staging seances for mediums. They provide the special effects. In particular, Russell does voices and noises while Clementine excels at ferreting out details about (and often small possessions of) the recently departed.

Maud is appalled. She’s not a fraud. She honestly does speak with the dead. Only without her spirit guide, her contact with the other world is unpredictable. She’s just about destitute. She’s desperate. Clementine preys upon the weak. Before long, she takes over Maud’s house and her business. It’s a short step to blackmail and coercion.

Handsome, too-charming Russell plays good cop to Clementine’s bad cop. But he’s no more trustworthy than she is. Or is he? Maud can’t tell. What she can tell is that there are malevolent spirits about Clementine. Clementine has terrible secrets in her past.

The novel has a wonderful premise. In this business based on deceiving the grieving, how believable is someone who really can communicate with ghosts? Especially once she starts employing a few tricks of the trade? How can she regain her self-respect? And how can she get away from a master manipulator like Clementine?

Clementine is a superbly drawn villain. She’s evil personified, but with enough of a backstory to allow a glimmer of sympathy for her to creep in. The author has a gift for these characterizations, these eerie, dangerous, mentally disturbed women. Her novels are great!

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This book was very interesting. It's about a medium who loses her way. Her abilities. I don't believe in these things but it was fun reading about it. This book is truly a beautiful story. It's told in a way to capture the audience and keep them turning the pages.

I have never read anything by this author but I did enjoy this one. Even being a person who does not believe in this practice or deception as it were, this was a very entertaining book. It's about a woman who helps another deceive people out of their hard earned money. Though I do think Maud had the best of intentions. She's almost penniless and needs help.

This is set in the late 1800s and gives you a nice narrative of that time. It's a page-turner for sure. A tale told to keep you wondering. A kind of dark tale in many ways. Right here before Halloween too.. Enjoy.

Thank you #NetGalley, #LakeUnion for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

4 stars and I do recommend it.

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A new tale from Kim Taylor Blakemore! I first fell in love with her when I read her previous book 'The Companion' and I could not wait to get stuck into this new read.

This tale takes us down the murky path of spiritual mediumship, is it real or all a hoax? The read becomes even more obscure when a certain Clem enters the picture. Clem is a mastermind at the sleight of hand and even more accomplished with creating a believable environment for the hopeful and gullible.

The story is exciting and well-presented but I can't describe how much I disliked Clem. I keep hoping for her to be more to win me over but she and her partner and at times the main character herself just irritated me to no end. It was as if they were competing in who could be more deplorable.

That being said the author did well with this. they stuck in my head!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an E-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.,

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This delightful gothic novel tells the story of Maud, a spiritualist and medium who has lost her ability to communicate with the dead. Enter, Clementine and her business partner / casual lover, Russell. Clem and Russell try to help Maud get her fame and fortune back by using "tricks of the trade" and making it appear that Maud can indeed talk with the dead once again. But when their fraud is discovered, things take on a murderous twist and it is difficult to know what is a deception and what is real...

What a book: chilling, gothic, macabre, spooky, creepy... The list could go on. Some scenes literally make your hair stand up on end; absolutely brilliant for this time of year!

All in all, I was totally captivated by this book: its plot and its writing style were both excellent.

I would definitely recommend this to add straight to your October TBR!

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Mesmerizing perfection for the spooky season! I loved this dark, twisty tale diving into the world of psychic mediums in Victorian times. The characters are layered and intriguing, from compelling, dangerous Clementine to charming, mercurial Russell and conflicted Maud.

Clem and Russell have allied in their business and personal lives to assist false mediums in fooling people during seances. But is Maud “the real thing?” Disconnected from her spirit guide, she has turned to the duo in desperation, not realizing how they will manipulate and control every aspect of her life.

A thoroughly gripping story, threading strong historical research with mystery and suspense. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing an ARC..

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This is a character driven story and like with her other books Kim Taylor Blakemore did a wonderful job creating her Clem and Maud's characters. Their emotions, their backstories and because of both their point of views you get to experience all of it. The suspense is throughout the whole book. The ending definitely has me wondering what will happen next but at the same time it wraps up nicely. Overall it was a great read! Thank you Let's Talk Books and Kim Taylor Blakemore for sharing this book with me!

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This was an interesting historical fiction from the 1800s about a once popular child medium, Maud Price, who loses her ability to see and talk to her spirits. She is not a fake, but when her spirits fail her, she turns to Clementine who is known for helping other mediums fill their seats with believers. This will take you through all the tricks and theatrics that went on behind the scenes at sittings but also includes some haunting spirits and a little bit of murder/mystery to keep you glued to the end. I found the dialogue to be smart and charming and I really enjoyed this new take on a historical fiction novel. This is not a scary read, so those of you who can’t handle the spookier reads, this one would be perfect for you!

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Maud Price, once known as The Maid of Light as a child medium, is struggling to make ends meet. Her faithful guiding spirit has left her, bills are piling up, and people don’t seem to remember her as a powerful medium in her own right. Clementine Watkins and Russel Sprague are a team that help with deceiving shows and using theater tricks to make people into believers again. They both move into Maud’s house under the guise of helping her become famous again. Once she starts having a full house with a waiting list, Maud starts feeling guilty for deceiving others that she once willingly helped truthfully. Now that someone threatens to expose her for being a fraud, accidents start happening, murder is covered up, and loyalties are tested…can Maud escape with her life and trust the spirits again with her medium abilities?

My thoughts:

First off, that ending! Nice! Loved the creepy, look over your shoulder, what’s going to happen next feel. This was a good story with interesting characters. I wonder about a certain someone’s mental stability and what happened with Harriet. I never liked Clem and Russell had his moments that I was ready to be done with him as well. I liked Rose and Maud for the most part. The author did a great job on describing everyone and building the world/scene.

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This one took me a little bit to really get into because I tend to struggle with books that are set in an older time period. I also found that the writing was a bit confusing at times, and it was hard for me to visualize things while reading. But once I got more into it, I really started to appreciate the story and become more invested in the characters.

Maud is someone who used to be able to connect with spirits, but she’s lost her ghostly guide that helps her with that. Clementine has offered to “help” (in other words, fake it) so that they can both make a living off of the pain of other people. I just need to say that Clementine is such an interesting character but a TERRIBLE person. I keep waiting for a redemption story and I am not getting one.

Overall, this was a good read with a chilling ending. I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I was a big lover of a historical backdrop. If you enjoy historical fiction with a mystical feel, this one might be for you!

I received this book for free as part of an Instagram book tour. I have posted a review on my Bookstagram and my Goodreads.

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Historical fiction. Gothic. Mediums. Spiritualist Movement.
Just in time for the creepiest time of the year!
Maud was a popular medium as a child. Desperate to reclaim her fame, and guiding spirits, she joins with Clem. Clem holds all the connections - and sleight of hand to make the experience more real.
The rumor of Clem's antics, along with a murder, pull the reader in. The author alternates between Clem and Maud's narration, gently teasing the truth, giving snippets of reality with lots of shade. Enthralling.

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This is a new author for me. I liked The Deception a lot. I read a lot of historical fiction and have read a surprising number of books that feature spiritualists and mediums. It’s a popular subject. This book takes a different stance that other books I’ve read, pitting a once famous child medium fallen on hard times against a ruthless trickster. Maud finds herself in murky waters when her situation forces her to take drastic action and trust someone she would normally avoid. I found this gripping from start to finish.

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Full teaser post published 25 September 2022 at

I've read quite a few books about spiritualists. Some have been quite good; others haven't even been worth the time it would take to give a negative review on Goodreads, much less the time to put together a teaser graphic for the blog. Good enough to willingly lose sleep? I don't know if that's ever happened with this particular subject matter ... until Kim Taylor Blakemore's The Deception.

Okay, so I haven't been sleeping much or well anyway, but that's absolutely not the point.

The point is that this book is fanfreakingtastically amazing.

You may (or may not) have picked up on the fact that I keep journals for my blog notes -- mostly the quotes and whatnot that I've highlighted in the Kindle or not highlighted in the actual hard copy (because that's just criminal). I actually had to re-read the last half of The Deception because I was so caught up in what was going to happen next with Maud and Clem (and Russell .... oooooh Russell) that I couldn't even highlight.

It's that good.

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"A sleight of hand. A trick up the sleeve. A call for the dead. It's all part of the game in this twisty tale by the bestselling author of After Alice Fell.

New Hampshire, 1877. Maud Price was once a celebrated child medium, a true believer in lifting the veil between the living and the dead. Now penniless, her guiding spirits gone, the so-called "Maid of Light" is desperate to regain her reputation - but doing so means putting her faith in deceiving others.

Clementine Watkins, known in spiritualist circles for her bag of tricks and utmost discretion, creates the sort of theatrics that can fill Maud's parlor again, and with each misdirection, Maud's fame is restored. But her guilt is a heavy burden. And the ruse has become a risk. Others are plotting to expose the fraud, and Clem can't allow anyone - even Maud - to jeopardize the fortune the hoax has made her.

When the deception hints at a possible murder, Maud realizes how dangerous a game she's playing. But to return to the light from which she's strayed, she must first survive the darkness created by Clem's smoke and mirrors."

I am ALL ABOUT MEDIUMS! Fake, real, mediums are my jam!

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Kim Taylor Blakemore for providing me with a complimentary digital ARC for The Deception coming out September 27, 2022. The honest opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Maud Price grew up in New Hampshire as a famous child medium. She opens the veil between the living and the dead relatives and friends.

Now in 1877, Maud is nearly penniless and her gift is gone. She is desperate to make money and get her reputation back, but doing so would mean deceiving others.

In walks Clementine Watkins who is known in the spiritualist world for tricking others. She creates parlor room theatrics that make people think they’re really speaking to their loved ones. Maud’s regains her fame, but it comes with a cost. Her guilt is great and others threaten to call them out as frauds.

The last straw comes when the deception leads to a possible murder. Maud knows she’s playing a dangerous game. Will she stand up to Clementine and return to the light or will she remain in the darkness they’ve created?

I loved this book so much! Spiritualism during the Victorian Era is a subject that fascinates me. It’s sad to think people were tricked out of their money because they wanted to be connected to their loved ones who died. But there’s also so much creepiness to it. It’s like what if it really was real and they did commune with the dead? It all just makes for an awesome horror/mystery book. I loved Maud’s character. She and Clementine were a perfect foil of each other. I think she experiences a lot of character growth and came into being her own person. The ending was so good. I loved it!

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries about communing with the dead!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Maud and Clem are locked together in 1877 New Hampshire because Maud, who was once a legitimate spiritualist (I know, I know) needs Clem, who uses trickery to make people believe. They alternately tell this story where the details of Clem's back story trickle out slowly. Both are intriguing characters, both will keep you guessing. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. It's interesting historical fiction that amps up the atmospherics,

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The Deception is the latest release from Kim Taylor Blakemore and continues her tradition of writing about interesting female characters in a historical setting, in this case 1877 New Hampshire.
Maud Price was once famous as a child medium , the "Maid of Light" who could lift the veil between our world and the next but her spirit guide has deserted her and now she barely ekes out a hand to mouth existence. In desperation she reluctantly hires Clementine Watkins, a young woman known throughout spiritualist circles for her skilled trickery and utmost discretion about her employers. Soon Maud's reputation is on the upswing, with the bereaved flocking to her parlour for readings blithely unaware that the messages and gifts from their loved ones are down to Clementine's deceptions. Before long the guilt about these deceptions starts to eat away at Maud, and the discovery that someone is out to expose her as a fraud has her nerves frazzled even further. She is desperate to get out of Clementine's clutches, but this could be far more dangerous than she ever imagined. It seems that Clementine's past is not without a few secrets including some deadly ones. Eventually the relationship between the two women becomes a cat and mouse game, and only one of them will win.
This was a clever and intriguing tale, I loved the setting in the world of Victorian spiritualism and as I have come to expect from this author, the attention to historical detail was on point. The book starts slowly, drawing the reader into this world but by the midway point the tension is ratcheting up nicely, and that sense of tension continues until the (very satisfying) end of the book.
As with the author's previous books the characterisation is excellent, though I will say that Clementine is much more developed than Maud. I loved that the author played with our emotions as the story unfolded and we learned more about the characters and started to realise that all might not be as it seemed.
Overall this is a really enjoyable book and one that I would not hesitate to recommend to fans of historical fiction, particularly if they like their books with a bit of a gothic vibe,
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.

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The Deception is a historical fiction with gothic elements, based around the spiritualist movement of the 1870s. The narrative unfolds in split perspective, with each chapter alternating between the two protagonists; Maud Price, once a celebrated child medium whose spirit guides have since deserted her, and Clementine Watkins, an enterprising non-believer who promises to restore Maud's fame by any means necessary. Of the two, Clem's character is more fleshed out, with a clearer backstory and more obvious motivations, which made her instantly more likeable to me, even though it was clear from the outset that she was the 'villain' of the story.

The story itself is a bit of a slow burn, with much of the first half of the book spent scene-setting and character building, which meant that the drama was backloaded and it took a while for the action to really start - this was fine for me, as I was engaged enough with the characters to remain interested, but if you like action from the first page, this might not be for you. There were a few sections/pieces of dialogue I needed to reread to ensure my understanding, as it was sometimes a little unclear who was speaking, however, I did read an uncorrected proof copy, so there's every chance these little niggles will have been rectified for the final version, and it didn't impact my enjoyment overall. There were enough hints and misdirections scattered throughout the story for me to have formed a number of theories about how it would play out - all of which were incorrect! I was pleasantly surprised to have the final events come as a complete shock and appreciated the fact that the suspense and deception continued right up to the last page.

I would recommend The Deception to fans of gothic and historical fiction, strong female leads and spirituality/mediumship, and will personally look out for other work from this author.

Many thanks to Kim Taylor Blakemore, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Set in the 1870's, this is a gothic historical fiction that focuses on the spiritualist movement. Maud Price is a medium. From a young age, she has been able to communicate with the help of her spirit guide Matthias. Unfortunately, he has become unreliable or missing and her business is suffering. When Maud is referred to Clem Watkins for help she had no idea what she was getting into. Clem and her partner Russell soon take over Maud's life. With deception, smoke, and mirrors, Clem has brought Maud's business back to life. Clem has inserted herself so completely into Maud's life she can't break free, even though she finds the tricks unethical.

I liked the overall gothic feel of the book. The author created a situation where is was hard to see a way out for Maud, so her struggle with her conscious is believable. I enjoyed the details about the time period fascination with the afterlife. The ending leaves a bit the the readers mind as to what happened. And of course, the question of what would you do to protect a secret?

Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the eArc in exchange for my honest review.

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Mediums, mystery and murder

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Lake Union Publishing for a digital ARC of this book. I have chosen to write this honest review voluntarily.

The Deception opens with Maud Price, a medium once of some renown, writing to Clementine (Clem) Watkins, asking for help because Maud's guardian spirit (Matthias) has become unreliable. Clem agrees to help.

With a title like The Deception', one can be under no illusions as to what sort of help Clem, assisted by her partner Russell, provides to Maud. As the stakes rise in the story, it becomes clear that not everyone who goes to a medium is seeking to speak to the dead, and Maud is increasingly in danger.

Indeed there are many layers of deception in the novel: the spiritualist movement, being an actor and playing a role, motivations for seeking a medium, how one dresses, who one loves and so on.

I was really intrigued by the opening of The Deception, but overall the book did not live up to the promise of the premise.

I suppose I had imagined that there would be more paranormal or occult elements in the story. I think the author could have made more of that theme, and it would have helped to 'up' the tension, especially when it came to discovering information about the murderer later in the book.

Another element I thought I saw hints of but which didn't materialise into a plot element was some attraction between Maud and Clem. There were moments of touch and looks between them: "..She crouched in front of Maud, resting her hand on Maud's knee. It was heavy and warm, and Maud did not throw it off....". I thought this aspect would become more significant in the story, but nothing further came of it.

I was often left doubting when and where this book took place. Sometimes, the language seemed out of place and took me right out of the story. I am neither North American nor an expert on the language used in the 1870s, but some of it just seemed wrong: 'bum' for bottom, 'nicked' for stolen, 'cold as a witch's tit' for the weather (!). That sounds more like British slang in the present era than 1870s New Hampshire. I did some cursory research on the etymology, and 'nicked' meaning stolen, only came into use in 1869 and 'colder than a witch's tit' has its first recorded use in the 1930s. Whether the language was or was not appropriate in the 1870s, it didn't evoke an 1870s feel for me.

Moving on to the story's climax, I felt the author built up the tension nicely. Still, I think she could have sustained it for longer. I found the overall ending disappointing because we are left with no definite conclusion.

Overall I gave this 3 out of 5. It was an okay read. It would perhaps interest readers of Susan Hill or Sarah Waters.

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