Review Details

Review type: Book

Title: Spitting Gold

Author: Carmella Lowkis

Publisher: DoubleDay

Release date: 18th April 2024

Spitting Gold

Reviewed by: Stephen Frame

Other details: Hardback £13.07

Spitting Gold by Carmella Lowkis

Stephen Frame

Paris in the 1860’s is the setting for Spitting Gold, a story of two sisters, Sylvie and Charlotte Mothe. Sylvie has disowned Charlotte after a scandal and has made a good life for herself by marrying a rich baron. Her past, working as a fraudulent medium with her sister and now-dead mother, is firmly behind her until one day, Charlotte appears at her door with the news that their father is ill and she has no money to look after him. Charlotte also comes with a proposition. One last job; to trick a dysfunctional aristocratic family out of a lost fortune. The family believes they are being haunted by the spirit of a relative murdered during the Revolution, and they need the help of the best mediums in the business to lay the spirit to rest and discover the whereabouts of the hidden loot.

So this is a story of two sisters, one good and one bad. Though these demarcations become increasingly blurred as the narrative twists and turns through a series of spooky goings-on, while the Mothe sister’s plans become unstuck and their efforts to find the hidden fortune, and latterly, to extricate themselves from the desperate situation they’ve got themselves into, become increasingly desperate. 

The tale is told in two parts. The first part is from Sylvie’s point of view, and the second is from Charlotte’s point of view. There is a richness of gothic intrigue here. In the first part, the séance scenes are particularly good, and the narrative canters along at just the right speed, with numerous reversals, reveals and upsets. Part two is slower-paced and could perhaps have been shorter. The ending, too, felt a touch weak, but it’s the getting there that makes the story worth reading. The fantasy element is light, as is the historical detail, but the well-crafted characters more than make up for this. Sylvie and Charlotte are, by turns, both sympathetic and somewhat unpleasant characters. The two-part structure of the narrative is used to good effect to bring this out. It’s the peeling back of the layers on the sisters’ lives that serve well in keeping the pages turning. A good book to read in a darkened room, with only a reading light for company. 

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