For five years Edie has worked for the Elysian Society, a secretive organisation that offers its clients the chance to reconnect with their dead loved ones by channelling them through living ‘Bodies’. Edie is regarded as the best Body in the team, but everything changes when Patrick, a distraught husband, comes to speak to his drowned wife. The more time Edie spends as the enigmatic Sylvia, the closer she comes to falling in love with Patrick. And the more mysterious Sylvia’s death begins to appear.

At its heart The Possessions is a ghost story – however, I can guarantee you’ve never read a ghost story quite like this before. This book is set in an unnamed city in an indeterminate time, and the reader is given scant details about the exact nature of how the Elysian Society carries out its mysterious – and slightly creepy – purpose. But despite the lack of detail I found myself tumbling headfirst into this world and unwilling to leave it for any length of time.

You would never guess that this is Murphy’s debut novel. Her writing is astoundingly confident and her sentences are crafted with such skill that she seems far more experienced. One moment she can have you sympathising wholeheartedly with Edie and her lonely lifestyle, and the next she can have your skin crawling with horror.

Edie is a brilliant character, one you will empathise with even as you balk at some of her actions. She is uncomfortable in her own skin and unsure of who she is, and has found an escape in working as a Body. The feelings she develops for Patrick so unnerve her that her attempts to make sense of them lead her to increasingly desperate actions.

The threads of the novel are weaved together cleanly and expertly, and though the boundaries between past and present begin to blur the plot is never unclear. The story is riveting and yet disquieting at the same time; you’ll keep reading even as the powerful sense of dread tugs insistently at your mind.

There are so many brilliant things about this novel that it seems impossible to cover them all. Although it contains elements of the supernatural those who tend to steer clear of fantasy novels would still enjoy this intriguing book. It is a mystery, thriller, romance, horror, ghost story, and crime novel all in one.

It has shades of du Maurier’s Rebecca, similarities to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian worlds, and a keen feminism that runs through it all. Yet The Possessions remains entirely its own book, unique and unputdownable.

This is a story of obsession and grief, a spooky and slightly creepy meditation on identity and desire. It’s one of those books you will be able to read again and again and still be knocked breathless. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Many thanks to Scribe for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.