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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 forprofitable crops Her only worry is that her loving father does not seem content with this future, deciding to send h 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 forprofitable 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 What a marvellous and original book In blending history and science fiction, Angela Meyer has created a work of literary prowess that lingers in the imagination long after the last page Told from two viewpoints mainly , this is the story of Australian Jeff who, longing to escape not merely his past, but his secret, hidden self, flees Melbourne for the Scottish Highlands and, eventually, an island But Jeff carriesbaggage than simply what he regards as his shameful desires He also has a What a marvellous and original book In blending history and science fiction, Angela Meyer has created a work of literary prowess that lingers in the imagination long after the last page Told from two viewpoints mainly , this is the story of Australian Jeff who, longing to escape not merely his past, but his secret, hidden self, flees Melbourne for the Scottish Highlands and, eventually, an island But Jeff carriesbaggage than simply what he regards as his shameful desires He also has a device that allows him to escape his deteriorating corporeal frame and enter the mind and soul of someone from the past That someone is young Leonora Warned he can only use it three times, Jeff ignores the advice, and uses the equipment to escape his own life and experience Leonora s at will Motherless Leonora lives in the Scottish Highlands in the 1860s with her father, tending the land and animals of the local laird Content with her lot, loving the knowledge passed onto her by Mr Anderson who manages the laird s many animals, Leonora is inquisitive, kind and keen to learn as much as she can When she not only befriends the young laird but starts to have strange visions and yearnings which she cannot reconcile, she wonders what is happening to her.When her father sends her to join her aunt in sooty, noisy Edinburgh, Leonora is inconsolable Torn from her old life, the only constant is the man she senses lurking behind her eyes, on the periphery of her mind and the strange, impossible visions and strong, sensual urges his presence arouses Uncertain what is happening to her, fearful she is going mad, possessed or both, Leonora s life begins to unravel There is only one way she can be saved, but selfish, indulgent Jeff is no hero.Two lives are at stake, but only one can survive Exquisitely written, this book evokes both a distant future where human contact and companionship can be replaced by life like devices and technology gives us entr e to the past and others that is both dangerous and exhilarating It also plunges readers into history and Scotland post enlightenment This was a time when women and science were pushing boundaries and the mind was a new territory, ripe for exploration and exploitation Unique, rich and incredibly sensual and sexual, this novel takes us to the edges of desire and beyond, exploring issues such as loss, regret, choices, shame, sexual fantasy and reality, and the depths and heights to which human nature can both plume and strive It also examines boundaries those imposed by our sex and sexual desires, social constraints and culture and how, even we re free, we create our own cages and then rail against them What also makes this novel so very different is the way it not only segues between male and female point of view but how, at times, these either blur or become so distinct as to appear as if they re alternate species.Clever, convincing and unputdownable, Meyer s debut novel is sensational My sincere thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy What a ride What a read The historical richness of Outlander meets the dystopian feminism of Margaret Atwood in this highly accomplished book from the most exciting debut novelist of 2018 Angela Meyer The first thing I want to say about A Superior Spectre is this do not go into this novel thinking it is anything at all like Outlander It s not It s a curious blend of science fiction and historical fiction, the resulting story presenting as a cautionary tale with gothic leanings about the perils of greed and powe The historical richness of Outlander meets the dystopian feminism of Margaret Atwood in this highly accomplished book from the most exciting debut novelist of 2018 Angela Meyer The first thing I want to say about A Superior Spectre is this do not go into this novel thinking it is anything at all like Outlander It s not It s a curious blend of science fiction and historical fiction, the resulting story presenting as a cautionary tale with gothic leanings about the perils of greed and power alongside the misuse of science It s startlingly clever yet intensely discomforting and it should possibly come with a content warning as it has the potential to upset some readers Jeff is the most vile creature I have ever come across in a novel His self flagellation did nothing to balance out the perversion of his desires, it just made him evencontemptible He is given a device which enables him to indulge in a digitised neural experience DNE , a futuristic invention akin to time travel for your mind Yet, because he is dying, he doesn t follow the instructions and overuses it to the point where he has invaded the mind of a young Scottish woman living in the late 1860s, whose connection to him slowly sends her mad Jeff s entire life has been about him, every step of the way, so it stands to reason that he will die that way self absorbed and self indulgent He disgusted me and once his desires became apparent, I will admit to distancing myself from his sections And yet, Jeff s sections were quite an accomplishment for the author When you have a character who is so repulsive, reader instinct is to turn away I felt like Jeff was trying to make us feel for him, while at the same time, the author was giving us every reason not to It was an interesting dynamic With Leonora, I was fully invested in her journey These historical sections were so steeped in atmosphere and authenticity There was a gothic element to the setting and the sense of Victorian restraint was ever present To me, there was a Dracula kind of feel to this part of the story, with Leonora s mind being inexplicably invaded while her body became infused with sensation and desire I liked this blend of the gothic historical with science fiction It was so unique and provided a solid canvas for the author to explore many themes, most notably, the abuse of power within the context of male privilege and the idea that female promiscuity is linked with mental instability We cannot do this, or it will create some external evidence of my madness A woman who has burst from her corset, from the cage of her bones That s what it feels like, like I am uncontained and spreading out Leonora was oppressed, in so many ways, and Jeff seemed to take it upon himself to enrich her by infusing her with his own memories and desires Yet he oppressed her further and it was incredibly sad to see her unravelling under his influence And infuriating as well I was so angry at him, wishing he would just get on with the business of dying and leave her in peace, which was what he was wishing as well I was also angry at the other men in Leonora s life Her father, who simply wanted to get rid of her so he could have a new life with his new wife Oskar, who wanted to indulge in her sexuality yet despised her for it William, who betrayed her confidence in him Leonora suffered in the way so many women have throughout the ages she was not permitted to live freely, to simply be herself I want to live in the Highlands to have physical duties but to be free in my thoughts, to use my hands while my mind has time to draw connections between ideas I very much liked the ending of this novel It rounded things out for all of the characters and provided closure for the reader I don t mind an open ended finish but I was pleased the author avoided that in this case A Superior Spectre is a clever piece of literary fiction I feel there will be resistance to and adulation heaped upon this novel in equal spades It will depend on how you approach it, but an open mind will lead to a greater appreciation.Thanks is extended to Ventura Press and Simon Schuster via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of A Superior Spectre for review This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This blending of futuristic science fiction with historical fiction was a curious read we follow two timelines, Jeff in a futuristic modern day as he is dying of an unnamed disease, and Leonora as she comes of age in the Scottish Highlands.From a pacing perspective, I feltprogression in Jeff s perspective initially He uses a device, the tab, to travel into the mind of Leonora and experience her life as her Towards the end of the novel though, I definitely foundinterest in her tim This blending of futuristic science fiction with historical fiction was a curious read we follow two timelines, Jeff in a futuristic modern day as he is dying of an unnamed disease, and Leonora as she comes of age in the Scottish Highlands.From a pacing perspective, I feltprogression in Jeff s perspective initially He uses a device, the tab, to travel into the mind of Leonora and experience her life as her Towards the end of the novel though, I definitely foundinterest in her timeline as she becomesaware of Jeff s presence in her head and is driven to hysteria in trying to manage this within the historic constraints of Scottish society at the time.Jeff is an unreliable narrator, and quite a detestable person he has predatory aspects to his narrative, separate to his manipulation of Leonora, that I didn t see the larger need for His continued involvement in her mind also doesn t ever get explained fulsomely for me, and I was left at the end of the book withquestions than answers That said, something about this overall just didn t work for me I think readers who like exploringpsychological science fiction will get on with this better than I did, and while I found the writing dark and striking, the book as a whole just didn t come together for me Science fiction meets historical fiction in A Superior Spectre by debut Australian author Angela Meyer In the near future Jeff is dying from an un named medical condition and seeks solace to suffer and die alone in his shame But he s not completely alone, as he takes a companion android and a piece of technology that allows him to see through the eyes of a person in history Jeff is an unlikeable protagonist, and I didn t warm to him or his plight at all but I think that s the point.Jeff forms Science fiction meets historical fiction in A Superior Spectre by debut Australian author Angela Meyer In the near future Jeff is dying from an un named medical condition and seeks solace to suffer and die alone in his shame But he s not completely alone, as he takes a companion android and a piece of technology that allows him to see through the eyes of a person in history Jeff is an unlikeable protagonist, and I didn t warm to him or his plight at all but I think that s the point.Jeff forms a connection with Leonora, a young woman living in the Scottish Highlands who is slowly becoming a woman and is sent to live with her Aunt in Edinburgh We experience Leonora s life through Jeff s experiences and I found her chapters the most compelling.I have to disagree with the promotion for this novel as blendingthe historical richness of Outlander with the powerful dystopian feminism of Margaret Atwood.I don t see anything of Outlander in this novel There is no romance between the characters, and if anything, Leonora believes she is cursed or possessed when she becomes aware of Jeff s presence The only tenuous link between the two is time travel, but our protagonist doesn t actually time travel, he just witnesses chunks of time in Leonora s life Outlander travels back in time to Scotland in the 1740s, and Leonora is living in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1860s, so this comparison is misleading.I also didn t find this novel to be dystopian or feminist so have no idea why it s being compared to the writing of Margaret Atwood My guess is that this novel is hard to categorise or pigeonhole and that s a good thing It should be able to stand on its own and comparing it to popular works in this way actually does the reader a disservice.Being a fan of historical fiction, I wasn t surprised to find myself wrapped up in Leonora s story and wishing she had a book of her own I was fascinated by the group of like minded people Leonora stumbles across and definitely wantedof this I could easily have done without Jeff and his selfish behaviour, although the android assistant companion aspect was interesting A Superior Spectre is recommended for readers interested in a science fiction meets historical fiction mash up Copy courtesy of Ventura Press I am conjuring the past, while she is beginning to see the future At some time in the future, Jeff is dying Burdened with the baggage of his memories, Jeff flees Australia for Scotland He has a piece of experimental technology, a device that will enable him to enter someone else s mind through digitised neural experience DNE It s a technology that has not yet been successfully trialled, and Jeff has been advised to only use it three times It s advice that Jeff plans to ignore.Leonora is I am conjuring the past, while she is beginning to see the future At some time in the future, Jeff is dying Burdened with the baggage of his memories, Jeff flees Australia for Scotland He has a piece of experimental technology, a device that will enable him to enter someone else s mind through digitised neural experience DNE It s a technology that has not yet been successfully trialled, and Jeff has been advised to only use it three times It s advice that Jeff plans to ignore.Leonora is a young woman living in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1860s She is busy and happy at home when her life changes forever Leonora s father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh But her new life becomes unbearable as Jeff connects to her mind and gives her glimpses of a future that she cannot begin to understand.There sto the story than this Imagine a world where it s possible for one individual to invade the mind of another A world in which the invading individual has no scruples, no care for the person whose mind is being invaded Imagine how terrifying it would be to see glimpses of a future you don t understand and to experience longings which are abhorrent to you Imagine two people trying to control one mind If you don t want to imagine this, or at least entertain the possibility that it is imaginable, them you may not wish to read this novel I kept reading, sickened by Jeff and his actions, by his disregard for others I kept reading, saddened by what was happening to Leonora and by the perceptions of those around her I kept reading, wondering about possibility and about ethics.I finished the novel, disturbed in part by what I d read but in awe of the way in which Ms Meyer developed the story I wondered how many people like Jeff there might be Or perhaps I will just destroy this Take no responsibility Life is chaos people are all the time causing minute fluctuations which will change history s path How does it end You ll need to read it for yourself.Note My thanks to NetGalley and Simon Schuster Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.Jennifer Cameron Smith I picked up A Superior Spectre for a few reasons One was because it was recommended to me that if I loved Outlander which I really, REALLY do then I would like this book The second was the science fiction element of being able to time travel mentally using a device I love a good time travel novel and I had high hopes for this book.To say this novel was a giant let down is an understatement While the writing is very clever and it was refreshing to read something that wasn t in the typical o I picked up A Superior Spectre for a few reasons One was because it was recommended to me that if I loved Outlander which I really, REALLY do then I would like this book The second was the science fiction element of being able to time travel mentally using a device I love a good time travel novel and I had high hopes for this book.To say this novel was a giant let down is an understatement While the writing is very clever and it was refreshing to read something that wasn t in the typical once upon a time set up, the book, in my opinion, did not live up to its hype The only thing it had in common with Outlander was that it was set in Scotland That s it Yes, there was a time travel element but the writer only took us as far back as the 1860s and it was not in some magical Devine way It was an invasion of privacy and it never sat well with me Character wise I couldn t stand Jeff, our male protagonist He was long winded, unnecessarily despondent and selfish in regards to how he treated those around him I just couldn t connect with him and his dark thoughts It was like reading about the human version of Eyore if Eyore was in his forties and liked to constantly think about having sex with teenage boys Yeah, that was another thing that didn t sit well with me either.The upside is that alongside Jeff s melancholic accounts, the novel switches over to the other protagonist, Leonora who is living in the late 1800s era in Scotland Her sections of the book were a joy to read and so captivating I personally would have preferred the novel to center on Leonora and her perspective For that reason, I gave the book a 3 out of 5, because I could have left the rest and just focused on her interesting journey of navigating society and mental health in 1860s Edinburgh *Free ↺ A Superior Spectre ⇗ 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 adviceIn the late s, 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 perishedBut 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 A strangely enticing story with two narrators The first is male, he is dying and flees Australia to hide from his wife, friends and past He wants to carry his sins to his grave It is also sometime in the near future and he has some mechanism which allows him to enter into the mind of someone in the past In his case this is the second narrator, Leonora a young woman in the mid 1800s Scotland She starts to see some of the future and of the life of the dying man Leonora stars in this book.Wha A strangely enticing story with two narrators The first is male, he is dying and flees Australia to hide from his wife, friends and past He wants to carry his sins to his grave It is also sometime in the near future and he has some mechanism which allows him to enter into the mind of someone in the past In his case this is the second narrator, Leonora a young woman in the mid 1800s Scotland She starts to see some of the future and of the life of the dying man Leonora stars in this book.What grabbed me was both the originality of the story telling and the haunting emotional writing covering a historical period where women were starting to seek freedom from social restrictions, have the right to sexual fulfilment and have the ability to make their own choices.Thoroughly enjoyable I finished A Superior Spectre a couple of days ago and needed time digest it before writing a review Angela Meyer is a writer who is willing to take risks and has written an unconventional novel Something this reader applauds her for I could describe A Superior Spectre as speculative fiction, or a timeslip novel, or a dystopian novel, or a feminist novel but none of these would do It is all and none of these Meyer shrugs off neat categorisations It is not her way A novel seems a way for M I finished A Superior Spectre a couple of days ago and needed time digest it before writing a review Angela Meyer is a writer who is willing to take risks and has written an unconventional novel Something this reader applauds her for I could describe A Superior Spectre as speculative fiction, or a timeslip novel, or a dystopian novel, or a feminist novel but none of these would do It is all and none of these Meyer shrugs off neat categorisations It is not her way A novel seems a way for Meyer to pose questions which have no easy answers The reader is as much a part of the experiment as the writer As we are when we read John Fowles The Magus And like The Magus, A Superior Spectre will make every reader uncomfortable at some point The questions cut deep Set in the very near future and in nineteenth century Scotland, her two main characters are unusual and respond to their strange cross epoch union in ways peculiar to themselves And it is this unpredictability which kept this reader riveted In turn horrible, sweet, erotic, tense, challenging, beautiful, disgusting, solemn, abhorrent and moving, A Superior Spectre is a novel no serious reader will forget in a hurry