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The Unseen

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,550 ratings  ·  228 reviews
England, 1911. The Reverend Albert Canning, a vicar with a passion for spiritualism, leads a happy existence with his naive wife Hester in a sleepy Berkshire village. As summer dawns, their quiet lives are changed for ever by two new arrivals. First comes Cat, the new maid: a free-spirited and disaffected young woman sent down from London after entanglements with the law. ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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This historical fiction mystery takes place in England in 1911, with a few interspersed chapters devoted to the solving of the mystery a hundred years later. The story was compared with those of Kate Morton, one of my favorite authors, but I think therein lies my disappointment. Although it was an alright story, I really expected more.

I enjoyed the "whodunnit" mystery aspect, but as the plot progressed (a bit slowly, in my opinion), it became very apparent who the mystery man was, which left onl
While there is no time slip element to this novel the author has constructed dual narration set a hundred years apart, the contemporary setting in 2011 and the historical in 1911.

In the present day the body of a WWI soldier has been discovered near Ypres, Belgium. Ryan works for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, he contacts Leah who is a freelance writer thinking she might be able to discover the soldier's identity based on the information in two letters that were found with him. The lette
I gave 5 stars to Katherine Webb’s first book The Legacy, and had high hopes for this new one. I loved the blurb and the first 100 or so pages, which were full of tantalising hints as to the long-lost secret.

But then it lost my interest. The past storyline spent a long time getting nowhere fast, feeling more like padding than plotting. I enjoyed the reveal, which I’ll admit took me by surprise, but by then it was far too little far too late. I normally love dual-timeline books, but that style ju
What a disappointment this book was! The reviews I read of it were promising as was the blurb on the cover. Glad I borrowed this from the library.

The story is slow, very slow, and boring. The only reason I kept reading was in the vain hope that something would happen. It is one of those books that has two inter-woven stories, one set in the past and one in the present day. I have read a few of these recently and they have been well executed and cleverly done - not this one. To my mind it would h
This book completely failed to hold my attention. Given how little I liked Katherine Webb's last book The Legacy, I honestly have no idea what possessed me to read this one. Except that I heard it was better. It wasn't. If anything, it was worse. I didn't find any of the characters to be compelling or sympathetic. The mystery was lame and in some ways not quite resolved in entirety. It lacked details that make the book believable and the historical setting accessible. The present day character w ...more
The story starts in 1911 with Hester writing a letter to her sister saying that she’s looking forward to the new maid, Cat, coming and how she will be her ‘project’.

We are then fast forwarded to the present when Leah, a freelance journalist, has been asked to come to Belgium from England to try and discover the identity of a young WWI soldier who has been found buried in a garden. He had two letters on him from a H. Canning which pique her interest.

This is the intriguing beginning to a compellin
Ana Luisa
Numa só palavra: viciante! Este é um daqueles livros que dá vontade de virar a página e saber o que vai acontecer de seguida. Para além da acção ser passada em dois tempos diferentes (1911 e 2011), a autora mostra uma profunda sabedoria sobre o momento certo de mudança de século, deixando o leitor com vontade de saber o que se vai passar a seguir em cada um deles. Ainda não tive oportunidade de ler o outro título da autora lançado pela Asa, “A Herança”, mas já ouvi falar muito bem desse livro ta ...more
This is an absolutely fantastic book. I was completely and utterly hooked from page 1. I literally could not put it down. I was exasperated that I had to keep putting it down so I could eat and sleep.
I won't go into the plot of this magnificent story, as other reviewers have covered it, suffice to say that the story is so interwoven between 1911 and 2011 that you never really know what is going to happen next. You are aware that there is a sense of evil building up but as the story twists and tu
I think this has to be my book of the year so far. I enejoyed it so much I really didn't want it to end. I loved her debut novel the Legacy too but this just blew me away.

The main characters are extremely well drawn, real and believeable. Hester recently married to mild mannered Albert Canning, vicar of a sleepy canalside village during a long hot summer in 1911.

Cat, come from London to work as a maid in their household, recently released from Holloway prison, struggling with her inner beliefs a
As always, you have to delve deeper into the book, and once you do that, you get bits and pieces to put a whole puzzle together that Ms Webb has made for us. This time we have the past, 1911 and the present 2011. I sure did LOVE the past! Hester was so intriguing. If I was her I would really have a complex. Why wouldn't Bertie sleep with her? What in the hay!

The present wasn't as interesting but I sure did love the way this bit of mystery, thriller and romance came along. At first I really didn
Stephanie D.
What is unseen in The Unseen by Katherine Webb ultimately refers to multiple things: spirits/fairies, buried secrets, hidden desires, the truth beneath the lies, all of which add up to a mesmerizing work of fiction with historical bases.

Webb weaves disparate events in early 20th Century England, the suffragette movement, and spiritualism/occultism, to form a constant tension-filled narrative which explodes in one unforgettable and tragic summer. In the back of the book, Webb states that the fir
Jose Santos
Neste mar de novos escritores que vão aparecendo há por vezes pérolas que felizmente se salientam. Escritores que sabem contar histórias. Histórias com substância e personagens com alma. Assim acontece nesta segunda obra da escritora inglesa Katherine Webb. Passada em dois tempos diferentes, 1911 e 2011. Uma centena de anos separam personagens que são trazidas à vida quando o corpo de um soldado da primeira guerra mundial é encontrado enterrado com duas misteriosas cartas. Quem é o soldado e que ...more
“O Mundo Invisível” é uma bonita história, passada em duas épocas separadas por cem anos (2011 – 1911). No entanto, o fulcro de toda a história está em 1911 onde se movem personagens muito cativantes:
A corajosa “Cat Negra” que vive em luta pela sua liberdade, não aceitando certas condições apenas por ser mulher o que a leva a envolver-se no movimento sufragista; a bondosa e ingénua Hester, apaixonada por um homem que não compreende. As personagens masculinas –Albert e Robin - também são muito i
Um livro surpreendente. Comprei-o apenas com base numa sinopse que me pareceu interessante e ainda bem que arrisquei!

A prosa de Katherine Webb é simples mas poderosa, não raro deparando-nos com alguns momentos de grande beleza poética que me agradaram particularmente. Para além da escrita equilibrada e cativante, Katherine Webb presenteia o leitor com uma história bem engendrada e desenvolvida a um ritmo acertado, plena de personagens convincentes e sedutoras(A Cat Negra, a Cat Negra...) que no
Freda Lightfoot
This was a strange tale, unexpected in many ways, but held my attention throughout and proved to be a fascinating insight into finding fairies at the bottom of your garden. This was a myth that gripped the nation in the early part of the twentieth century, and is here given a new twist. Cat, the maid, who becomes embroiled in it all, is a complex but fascinating character, with a very independent frame of mind for the time. Webb can always be relied upon to tell a good tale, and this book is no ...more
Um livro de leitura agradável que decorre em 2 momentos, separados por 100 anos. Um mistério que decorre durante esse espaço de tempo e é desvendado quase no final por uma jornalista curiosa. Lê-se bem e deixou-me uma boa sensação quando o terminei, apesar de alguma pena pelo final, já um pouco esperado.
Cleo Bannister
I loved this book, I read The Legacy and although I enjoyed reading it, The story has not stayed with me the way I think that The Unseen will.

The book starts with a letter Hester Canning, a vicars wife, wrote to her sister in May 1911. The story that follows centres around the hot, sultry summer of 1911 when Cat Morely is a maid at the rectory. The vicar is taken up with a new spiritualist idea and brings a leader of the movement Robin Durrant to stay in his home. Cat's past life in prison haunt
As good, if not better, than Katherine's previous book The Legacy
The Unseen by Katherine Webb is a novel that wouldn’t normally catch my eye; I’m not much of a historical fan, however during this year I’ve read a couple of books that have a historical aspect to them, that move from the present to the past, and I’ve found them to be massively enjoyable. I like how the stories merge, how the past and present were so different from each other and it can be somewhat startling to read about the early 1900s and comparing them to just how much it’s changed now that ...more
This was a pretty average plotline, set in 1911, where a minister gets caught up with a "theosophist" in the belief that Elementals/fairies exist in his meadow. The theosophist, Robin Durrant, turns their quiet household upside down with his charismatic and manipulative personality in his obsession to prove the existence of Elementals by photographing them. The problem with the novel, however, is that not only does it move too slow, but there are WAY too many subplots that are completely unnesse ...more
Carolyn Hill
Just what is the unseen in this book? Is it the elemental beings - the fairies in the meadow? Is it the hidden past? Or is it the true natures and disguised motives that certain characters are at pains to camouflage? This is an engrossing mystery with a dual time frame set in 2011 and 1911 in an isolated British village. The modern story, which is a much shorter narrative, revolves around identifying the well preserved corpse of a WWI soldier found in Belgium, who had letters sealed in a metal c ...more
In Belgium, the body of a first world war soldier is found with in his pocket a tin with a few letters, written by a woman. Leah, a journalist from England, is alerted to the find, and hopes there is an interesting story to be told. The letters suggest some terrible event took place that had to be covered up.
Leah finds the house (in England) where the letters were sent from all those years ago and with help of the current occupant of the house, she finds out about the story behind the letters.

Colleen Turner
Getting the opportunity to review books for blogs has been wonderful. Some books fall short of my expectations but most are books that I really enjoy and, a select few, becomes books I truly love. The Unseen is one of those books and I am so excited I got the chance to review it for

The Unseen is told in two alternating storylines: one deals with Leah Hickson trying to discover the identity of a 100 year old soldier's body in 2011 and the other deals with the various people
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

Absolutely, positively engrossing - you are hooked from the very first chapter
Author is brilliant at setting the mood and setting of the story - you really feel like you are part of the story
Loved the switching back and forth from 1911 to 2011 - gives it a unique twist
Fabulous well rounded characters both in the past and the present
Lots of suspense, murder and secrets with just a hint of the occult
Cat is a truly fascinating character - full of strength and fire, trying to fight ba
This novel takes place in two times: the present day, and in 1911. In the present day, Leah is asked by her ex to help identify a World War One soldier for the War Graves Commission; a soldier who has two letters in his possession. Back in 1911, Cat Morley, a young house maid recently let out of jail for taking part in suffrage demonstrations, joins the rural household of the Reverend Albert Canning, who has recently seen fairies while taking a walk in the countryside, and his wife, Hester. Cat ...more
Lydia Presley
Oh Katherine Webb, what are you doing to me? You take some of the most delicious, fantastic ideas and put them into a story that I cannot resist and then you mix it with the most frustrating, aggravating details. But I can't stop reading and I struggle with myself because I want to give your story five stars, but then there are so many little nagging elements that drag it down for me!

Okay, now that the rant is out of the way, let me tell you what I loved and what I hated about The Unseen.

First o
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patty Corwin
This book was better than I expected it to be. It intertwines two stories -- one is of 1911 and a mystery surrounding a vicarage. The modern story is about a free-lance author investigating the discovery of a body from the early 1920's - an unidentified soldier, which the modern day proagonist tries to identify. Once I got into the book, the story was very intriguing. I learned about Theosophism - and now I can check out the Theosophists Society which is located in Wheaton! I always wondered wha ...more
Three and a half stars.

Thoughts: Awesome characters. I loved Hetty. I enjoyed the rich layers that seem to mark a Webb novel: textured settings, past and present time theme, full-bodied characters, beautiful descriptions.

An enjoyable, interesting and compelling read :)

Recommended for those who appreciate a Kate Morton novel...
This book shared some facets with some of Kate Morton's work--dual plot lines in the present and the past, for example--but was a little more Gothic in feeling. There was much more focus on the 1911 plot line than the 2011 plot line, and I would have liked the characters and plot in the 2011 plot line to have been more expanded. The author was fairly heavy-handed in pointing out the inequities of the British class system in the early 20th century. The contrast between her characterization of Cat ...more
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I was born in Kent in 1977 and grew up in rural Hampshire before reading History at Durham University. History remains a passion, and I write character-led mystery dramas, often with historical settings. I love to explore the way past events can reverberate in the present, and I'm fascinated by the vast grey areas in human morality and behaviour.

My debut novel 'The Legacy' was voted viewers' choic
More about Katherine Webb...
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