Book Review: The Other Side of Mrs Wood

Lucy Barker ~ The Other Side of Mrs Wood


Mrs. Violet Wood is London’s premier medium. Her ambition and work ethic are relentless, and her unique abilities have earned her quite the reputation among London’s elite. Mrs. Wood knows just how to read her wealthy patrons and deliver them exactly the messages they long to hear from their loved ones visiting from beyond the grave.

However, one London newspaperman is on a quest to expose the false mediums among them, just as the pressure increases to outperform the upstart Americans—who, to Mrs. Wood’s horror, are promising their audiences more and more fantastical visions. When Mrs. Wood learns her own finances are in crisis, she realizes she must raise her own profile to secure her career and her place in society, or risk being quickly replaced by the next big thing.

Her solution? Accepting as an apprentice the sweet young girl who appears at her door, who carries an uncanny talent for the craft. But is Miss Bird everything she appears to be? And will she be Mrs. Wood’s salvation, or her downfall? 


Whatever your thoughts are of the ‘other world’, seances and similar entertainment regarding spirits, continue to be popular. Perhaps most of us secretly want something to exist so that we can communicate with lost relatives and friends… in Victorian times, people clung to this hope.

I love a book that teaches me about a subject I find fascinating. The Other Side of Mrs Wood looks at the power and popularity of mediums in the Victorian period, as well as the people who attended. Although I’ve read a few books about this practice, Mrs Wood opened my eyes to new and intriguing elements.

Our medium is Mrs Wood, approaching middle age and living in fear of one mistake ruining her forever. Barker conjures up a perfect image of her, and despite her not being particularly likeable, she is pitiable and we do root for her throughout the book. Her protegé Emmie is younger, prettier and happy to take more risks… yet she is even less likeable, making our sympathy for Mrs Wood even greater.

I loved this book and was astounded to read about the flying objects, exotic fruits and feathers used to dramatise the experience. It seems laughable now, but at the time it must have been extremely entertaining and no doubt audiences were gobsmacked! Lucy writes with humour, empathy and knowledge, making her debut extremely readable and gripping.

Entertaining, well-written and absolutely fascinating, Lucy Barker is definitely a debut author to watch. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks to 4th Estate for my copy. Opinions my own.

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