The Medium is the first book in the Emily Chambers Spirit Medium trilogy by C. J. Archer.
Quick Review (read on for full review)
An enjoyable, easy to read paranormal story set in a convincing Victorian setting, combined with a solid mystery and a large dose of romance. 4 / 5
Summary (from Goodreads)
Seventeen year-old spirit medium Emily Chambers has a problem. Actually, she has several. As if seeing dead people isn’t a big enough social disadvantage, she also has to contend with an escaped demon and a handsome ghost with a secret past. And then there’s the question of her parentage. Being born an entire year after her father’s death (yes, a year) and without the pale skin of other respectable English ladies, Emily is as much a mystery as the dead boy assigned to her.
Jacob Beaufort’s spirit has been unable to crossover since his death. It might have something to do with the fact he was murdered. Or it might not. All he knows is, he has been assigned by the Otherworld’s administrators to a girl named Emily. A girl who can see and touch him. A girl who released a shape-shifting demon into the mortal realm. Together they must send the demon back before it wreaks havoc on London. It should be a simple assignment, but they soon learn there’s nothing simple when a live girl and a dead boy fall in love.
“Tell me you won’t go, tell me you’ll stay forever, tell me you love me.”
(From The Medium by C. J. Archer)
The Medium has been sitting on my virtual shelf for so many years, that I’ve actually lost count how many it’s been. But, having made sure that I managed to get around to reading the first book in the Glass and Steele series by the same author for last year’s Indie Only Month, (and although that had been on my virtual bookshelf for some time, it hadn’t been as long as The Medium) I was determined to get around to reading this one this year. And I did! Woohoo! On to the review…
The first thing I have to mention is the gorgeous book cover. I love the colours and the font, not to mention the flourishes, but it is the moonlit, fog-swathed view of the Victorian street that really caught my eye – and my imagination.
I liked Emily Chambers for the most part. Sometimes she came across as too childish for my liking, especially when it came to dealing with her older sister, and I did find that a little off-putting, but it wasn’t enough to stop me reading or make me turn against her character. However, I thought she was terribly dismissive of the sensitivities of others when she decided it was her place to reveal news to a family when a ghost had asked her not too. And at that point, I didn’t particularly like her so much.
I did like Jacob. He was convincingly created so you could believe he was this confused, sometimes over-confident, sometimes possibly dangerous young man at a loss as to understand what has befallen him and why he is different from other ghosts.
As for the other characters, they were also very well drawn. I liked Emily’s sister, Celia – she had a lot to put up with from Emily, I thought. The Chamber’s new maid was amusing. My favourite character from the whole book though was probably George, the rich, eccentric demonologist. I hope we get to see him make more appearances in later books.
The love story is one I can invest in. There is an instant attraction / connection between the two leads and it works – sometimes this sort of insta-love doesn’t work, but with these character, and in this setting, I found it acceptable. Also, the romantic plot isn’t perfect, there are plenty of obstacles for them to overcome, which kept me interested.
The mystery aspect of the story was solid, leaving me gripped and engaged enough to need to know how it was going to be resolved. This resolution did seem a little too easy, compared to the path which them there but by the time we reached it, I was probably more interested in wondering where the next book was going to lead, especially in terms of the romantic storyline.
The descriptions of Victorian London ensured I could imagine each and every setting. From the Chamber’s home in Druid’s Lane, to the parlours of those they visited for the seances they conducted, then there was George’s library, the dark, dank streets of Whitechapel, the school for domestic servants…I could envisage them all.
The big question I found myself asking whilst reading (and subsequently after) was, is The Medium better than The Watchmaker’s Daughter? (see my review for the latter here). This sort of comparison usually helps me when I’m struggling to rate a book. I awarded the first book in the Glass and Steele series four out of five stars, and I think The Medium is on a level with that. I enjoyed them both, very much.
The second book in the series is Possession, and I have added it to my ‘books to be bought’ list.