Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Superior Spectre” as Want to Read:
A Superior Spectre
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Superior Spectre

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  329 ratings  ·  92 reviews
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 Sco
Paperback, 276 pages
Published August 1st 2018 by Ventura Press (first published July 23rd 2018)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Superior Spectre, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Superior Spectre

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  329 ratings  ·  92 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Superior Spectre
“But I cannot speak to Leonora or control my effect on her. She sees Melbourne, she sees this place, she sees my past, she sees my eyes in the mirror. I am an infection.”
[Jeff, in the future]

. . .

“It is easier to imagine that you are possessed than to face the possibility your mind may be fooling you.”
[Leonora, in the past.]

Uniquely unsettling. Imaginatively disturbing. The promotional blurbs tell much of the premise of the story, so I’m not going to repeat it all here, other than to say it
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 h ...more
Theresa Smith
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, aww2018
“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
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: auslit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Brooks
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 carries more baggage than simply what he regards as his shameful desires. He also has a
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘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
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
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
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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.
John Purcell
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book - confronted? intrigued? depressed? uplifted? It's very well written and it is certainly staying with me, to the point where it's almost weighing on my mind. I have so many questions. How much of what she thinks and feels is because of him? How much of what he thinks and feels is because of her - how much of the effect goes both ways or is it just because she has naturally influenced him. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending either - on one hand I felt ...more
Cass Moriarty
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had heard good things about Angela Meyer’s debut novel, A Superior Spectre (Ventura Press 2018 Peter Bishop) but wasn’t quite sure what to expect – the blurb sounded like some strange genre-bending blend of historical fiction and science fiction. Two points: firstly, that is exactly what I got. And secondly, it hooked me and engaged me much, much more than I would have imagined possible. And I suppose that is because, like all good writing, this novel traverses the human condition, in this cas ...more
Kelly-Jo Sweeney
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When books are sold as being like a well known or well-loved book that you've already read, I'm always a little sceptical. A Superior Spectre was described on the NetGalley email, encouraging me to request it, as being similar to A Handmaid's Tale. I have to say, that although this is set in a dystopian future, it isn't really like it in any way. If it were like any of Atwood's frightening glimpses of a possible future, then it reminded me of the world the Oryx and Crake trilogy or The Heart Goe ...more
Julia Tulloh Harper
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed many things about this book - including the central premise (man from future inhabits mind of young woman from the past using illegal tech- complications and unsettling things ensue) as well the exploration of the importance sensory experience in forming our sense of self. Also respect the way Meyer created such an awful character in the male protagonist! Overall I think though this was a novel about ideas (subjectivity, desire, shame, power) rather than story- I mean, stories are alwa ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I'm not sure how I felt about this book. On the one hand I enjoyed Leonora's side of the story but I found Jeff unlikable. I assume we were meant to feel this way but I'm not sure.

I mostly just found myself wanting to go back to Leonora's time and had little interest in what happened to Jeff.

*** I received this book for free by Netgalley ***
The Cats’ Mother
I was invited to request this book by NetGalley, and despite knowing from the outset that it was more "literary" than my usual, was intrigued by the premise, and saw it already had several 5 star reviews. I found it impossible to classify, so have reluctantly created a "literary fiction" shelf, which seems a waste, since it will have so few books on it. I'm not going to think about my inability to just leave it unclassified... It has sci-fi, historical fiction and erotica elements, is set in a m ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Parts of this book I just loved completely, other parts I found myself skimming through. It is such an interesting mix of historical fiction (the parts I loved) and science fiction (the parts I had problems with) and the meshing of these two so distinct storylines was well done but at times too confusing and strange. It certainly is well written, almost lyrically written in parts. The observations of nature and the wildness of Scotland through the eyes of Leonora were stunning, the book is worth ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
* I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *

Jeff is dying. He flees from his home in Australia to the north of Scotland so that he can die alone, haunted by the secrets of his past. He takes with him an experimental technology that allows him to inhabit the mind of another person, in another time. While he has been warned not to overuse it, it is a temptation that he struggles to resist.

Leonora is a young woman living in the Highlands in 1860. Li
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for a free copy of this remarkable book.

Jeff lives in an alternative present, or perhaps a near future, creepily reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, with a touch of J D Robb’s mid-21st Century urban life and the television series “Humans” where androids help us out at home, the state has too much control over our lives and health and technology has merged with the human body. He has a “tab” which allows him to enter the mind of a historical person for a tim
Nicki Markus
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Superior Spectre captivated me right from the first page. It is a fascinating study of human nature and what makes up our sense of self. It also considers personal responsibility when our actions impact on the lives of others. This was a real page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what would happen next and how things would work out. Although there is a sci-fi element to the tale, this work sits firmly on the literary fiction shelf. It offers both an exciting, interes ...more
Rachael McDiarmid
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unusual mix of genres here but it works wonderfully well. I’m not surprised this book has a buzz - it’s Angela afterall! She fed my curiosity and made me turn the pages. I was fascinated with both Jeff and Leonora and the times they lived in. Worlds apart indeed, but ultimately as one. I found her story wonderful, as I enjoy my historical fiction very much. And his world was futuristic and modern and raw. It was more recognisable. I loved having it set in Scotland and enjoyed many of the descrip ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
This isn't my type of genre but I thought I'd give it a go. I struggled with the whole entire book, finished it and am still wondering what I read.
Sian Jennings
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was such an unexpectedly great book. Not the sort of book I would normally read but the characters, the setting, the writing style truly transported me into a hugely original and moving novel. A sensational read, I quite literally could not put it down. Part History, part science fiction, I am putting this down on my favourites list.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare gems that plays with science fiction themes but which would sit solidly on the literary fiction shelf.

It's not about the tech; there's a new world in 2024, but that's not the focus of the novel. Instead, we explore themes of regret and self-loathing, of the way a human being can feel caged in their society or within their own minds, but freedom is all that we seek -- and this is just as true now as it was one hundred years ago, and the way it will be a hundred years fr
Gary Kemble
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been putting off writing this review because I know that my review won't do Angela Meyer's A Superior Spectre justice.

Blending historical fiction and Black Mirror-esque science fiction, A Superior Spectre explores human frailty, desire, shame, as well as the nature of madness and time itself. Angela's descriptions of Scotland are rich yet subtle, like a good single-malt whisky, and left me longing to walk Edinburgh's streets once more, or ramble through the Highlands.

I finished A Superior S
Craig Hildebrand-Burke
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Taken separately, the two narrative threads of Angela Meyer’s A Superior Spectre are straightforward.

In one, Jeff is dying. Set in a recognisable near-future time, he is at first fleeing Australia for Scotland, and then withdrawing entirely not just from his past life, but from life itself. The specific reasons for his withdrawal drip-feed into the story gradually, and while he may not be a sympathetic character, and at time severely strains the reader’s ability to empathise with him, there is a
Jo | Booklover Book Reviews
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This cleverly titled novel is an intriguing mix of gothic psychological thriller and dystopian science fiction. In A Superior Spectre Meyer explores the inner workings of the mind, the home of desires and passions deemed unseemly either by society, their hosts, or both; offering up through creative extrapolation, the personal insight that may be gained by experiencing the world in another’s shoes.

Meyer’s dark and often disturbing depiction of the physical impact Jeff’s self-inflicted shame h
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is a great read - I hoped it would be and I wasn't disappointed. The characters are drawn well and Meyer is able to flit between genders and time periods adroitly and convincingly.

It is such a rich book with attention to all of the readers' desires - sights, smells, nature plus and literary nods.

I'm going to be recommending this to many of my friends.

I was privileged to meet the author many years ago in Edinburgh and I have kept abreast up with her works since. I was very excited to orde
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't think I'd enjoy this book this much considering it has elements of period drama. This period element just forms part of the setting of the book, a way to contrast limitations put on women in the past and imagining how such women might experience our more liberal times. The author also explores the story of a modern male, who has lived his own constricted life and goes back into the past to try and liberate himself from shame and guilt. Quite a few interesting themes!
Teresa Bower
This sounded like an interesting book. Set in the near future it is a sort of time travel story but only in the mind. However, I found Jeff to be a most unlikeable person and in many ways disturbing. Leonora, on the other hand, was a much more likeable character and I enjoyed her story. I wanted to keep reading, hoping that there would be a good outcome for her. The actual end was rather rushed and ultimately I was disappointed with it and the whole book.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Here Until August: Stories
  • The Glad Shout
  • This Taste for Silence
  • There Was Still Love
  • A Constant Hum
  • Bruny
  • Hive (Hive #1)
  • Too Much Lip
  • Preservation
  • The Things She's Seen
  • Wolfe Island
  • Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark
  • Wintering
  • The Animals in That Country
  • The Fragments
  • See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Violence
  • The Weekend
  • Islands
See similar books…
Angela Meyer’s debut novel A Superior Spectre (Ventura Press, ANZ & Saraband, UK) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award, the MUD Literary Prize, an Australian Book Industry Award, and the Readings Prize for New Australian Writing. She is also the author of a novella, Joan Smokes, which won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Award (UK), and a book of flash fiction, Captives. Her work has been widely pub ...more

Related Articles

Space operas, magic, destiny, dystopia, aliens: There's a bit of something for everyone in 2020's latest offerings in science fiction and fantasy...
83 likes · 21 comments