Victorians embraced the occult, both for entertainment and for answers. Change came quickly during the Industrial Revolution. Individuals were caught between eras. No wonder they grasped at the occult for answers. Fascination in mesmerism had begun a century earlier. During the Regency period, it was not uncommon to have a fortuneteller entertain guests at a house party. By the Victorian period, many sought help from fortunetellers—palm readers, tarot, seances, and other attempts to contact the dead or foresee the future. Others enjoyed the pretense. Although having fortunetellers appear at a party may not still be in vogue, most of us are no less fascinated by the occult.
Alice Duncan has a terrific SPIRIT mystery series in which the heroine, Daisy Gumm Majesty, is a fake psychic in 1920’s Pasadena, California. No, Daisy’s not a charlatan, just a woman down on her luck with an uncanny ability to analyze human nature and solve murders. She never claimed otherwise, but was drawn in to being a “psychic” by her aunt’s wealthy employer. I love this series, and it’s available right now on Kindle for 99 cents each. I’d read all but the latest, but I snapped up the entire series at this bargain. They include STRONG SPIRITS, HIGH SPIRITS, FINE SPIRITS, and HUNGRY SPIRITS. (I picked up some of Alice's other titles too.) Daisy has to earn a living for herself and help her family. Her husband, Billy Majesty, was permanently disabled in WWI from mustard gas, but Daisy plunges ahead with her business, keeping a smile for Billy regardless of her own emotions.
Now, where did I put those Tarot cards . . .