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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.
About the Author
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.
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
Introspection, Social Taboos, Sexuality
Meyer writes with an almost scary understanding of the human psyche, with A Superior Spectre sewing together the relationship between personal desire, conformity, and social taboos. The underlying genius of this novel is its connection between the past and the future, forcing the reader to consider their own place in time. By no means is this book hard work, but requires you to disrobe and dive into the story with your full attention. It is mature, unpretentious, and unapologetic. It is a wonderful novel, and I'm very much looking forward to my second reading.
A Superior Spectre
Praise for A Superior Spectre
'Haunting and wonderfully surefooted – a vivid reminder of what fiction can do.'
PETER BISHOP, PETER BISHOP BOOKS
A Superior Spectre is a gorgeously written, viscerally unsettling novel.
Angela Meyer weaves ideas about gender, desire, technology and identity through this creepy,
erotically-charged tale with subtlety and elegance. It’s a book you’ll read in a thrilling rush and
then think about for months.’ EMILY MAGUIRE
‘A Superior Spectre is a wild and risky novel, artfully darting between two
people separated by centuries and connected by — you’ll see. Meyer’s triumph is that each char-
acter, one in the past and one in the future, is alive with the right decisions and details for their
world. This debut is filled with uncomfortable questions about sex, tech, family, regrets and the
times we are stuck living in. There are no lectures or morals here, just a writer taking you to places
you’ve never been, giving one rich vision after another, and, in the end, delivering a daring and
excellent story.’ STEVEN AMSTERDAM
ENDORSEMENT — ‘A beautiful and troubling novel that subtly explores how the past haunts the
present.’ CERIDWEN DOVEY
Praise for Angela’s past work
'Meyer’s language is subtle and skillful, giving us flashes of unsettling truths, peppered with dark humour.'
BRIGID MULLANE, READINGS MONTHLY
'One of the form’s most vital practitioners.'
WILLIAM TEOMAN, THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
'Her best stories are like the perfect skeletons of small animals, from which a warm and living body may be easily imagined.'
KERRYN GOLDSWORTHY, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD/THE AGE
ISBN: 9781925183917 ISBN-10: 1925183912 Audience:
Number Of Pages: 400 Published: 1st August 2018 Publisher: Ventura Press Country of Publication: AU Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6
Weight (kg): 0.39