A Superior Spectre

A Superior Spectre 1

by Angela Meyer

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 01/08/2018

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $7.35

Jeff is dying.

Haunted by memories and grappling with the shame of his desires, he runs away to remote Scotland with a piece of experimental tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. Instructed to only use it three times, Jeff – self-indulgent, isolated and deteriorating – ignores this advice.

In the late 1860s, Leonora lives a contented life in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by nature, her hands and mind kept busy. Contemplating her future and the social conventions that bind her, a secret romantic friendship with the local laird is interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh – an intimidating, sooty city; the place where her mother perished.

But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions that bear no resemblance to anything she has ever seen or known…

A Superior Spectre is a highly accomplished debut novel about our capacity for curiosity, and our dangerous entitlement to it, and reminds us the scariest ghosts aren’t those that go bump in the night, but those that are born and create a place for themselves in the human soul.

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Ventura Press
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):
Angela Meyer

Angela Meyer’s writing has been widely published, including in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings.

She has previously published a book of flash fiction, Captives (Inkerman & Blunt). She has worked in bookstores, as a book reviewer, in a whisky bar, and for the past few years has published a range of Australian authors for Echo Publishing, including award-winners and an international number one bestseller.

She grew up in Northern NSW and lives in Melbourne. A Superior Spectre is her debut novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • an outstanding debut novel

    by on

    A Superior Spectre is the first novel by Australian publisher and author, Angela Meyer. In the Highlands of Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century, young Leonora Duncan is content with her life in her father’s small village, Chapeltown. She loves animals, learning about them from Mr Anderson, while their laird, William Wink is kind, a man disinclined to clear his tenants for more profitable crops. Her only worry is that her loving father does not seem content with this future, deciding to send her to Edinburgh in the hope of attracting a better husband.

    Perhaps two hundred years later, Jeff has received an unfavourable diagnosis, one that will mean surgery and drugs. He opts out, planning to suffer his body’s natural deterioration, seeing this as what he deserves. It requires anonymity, so he fakes his ID and takes a cottage on a remote Scottish island.

    Aware he will be quite debilitated, he brings an andserv to assist him. He allows himself the distraction of a piece of experimental tech-tainment: a tab that links his mind to someone in the past, in his case, Leonora Duncan. His self-indulgent rejection of the admonition to use it only three times has serious consequences for his host. Even as he becomes aware of this, he does not desist.

    This is a novel of historical fiction, of time-travel, of possession, of madness and paranoia. The story is told in a dual narrative: Jeff recounts the events that brought him to the island while his reminiscences offer some explanation of his mental state, his guilt and shame; Leonora’s account gives the reader the unique perspective of sensing another’s presence inside the mind.

    Meyer’s tale is original and cleverly constructed, touching on several thought-provoking topics: the sense of entitlement of certain generations; the powerful lure of curiosity; the restrictions placed on women in the nineteenth century; the treatment of mental illness. Meyer easily evokes her setting with her descriptive prose, and her characters are so well drawn that the reader is bound to feel anxiety about Leonora’s fate and repulsion at Jeff’s behaviour, as intended. This is an outstanding debut novel and it will be interesting to see what Meyer does next.