On the Nature of Magic (Paperback)
On Our Shelves Now
A Gothic supernatural mystery for fans for The Quickening and The Shape of Darkness, featuring real-life events and people, such as George Méliès and the Moberly-Jourdain incident, where two English women claim to have seen the ghost of Marie Antoinette in the gardens of Versailles.
Helena Walton-Cisneros, known for finding answers to the impossible, has started her own detective agency. She takes on two new uncanny cases, both located in Paris – which itself is too much of a coincidence to ignore. In the first case, two English women claim to have seen the ghost of Marie Antoinette in the gardens of Versailles. The second case is the murder of a young woman working at the mysterious Méliès Star Films studio outside Paris.
As Helena and her colleague Eliza investigate, they hear whispers of vanishings at Méliès Star Films, strange lights, spies, actors flying without ropes and connections to the occult.
What is George Méliès practising at his secretive film studio? And is it connected to the haunting in Versailles? Helena and Eliza will only find the answers if they accept the natural world is darker, stranger than they could ever have imagined…
About the Author
Marian Womack, author of The Golden Key and The Swimmers, was born in Andalusia and educated in the UK. Her debut short story collection, Lost Objects (Luna Press, 2018) was shortlisted for two BSFA awards and a BFA award. She is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and she holds degrees from Oxford and Cambridge universities. Marian lives in Cambridge, at the edge of the Fens.
"With a plot as labyrinthine as the catacombs of Paris, this is a hugely imaginative exploration of what happens when science and magic collide, and an insightful depiction of female companionship and determination.”
Lucie McKnight Hardy, author of Water Shall Refuse Them
"An intricately built tale of history, spiritualism, and magic; perfect for fans of Susannah Clarke."
A.C. Wise, author of Wendy, Darling
"Marian Womack is fiendishly inventive. She creates magic."
Priya Sharma, author of Ormeshadow
"Like the fantastical early cinema at the centre of its plot, On the Nature of Magic occupies a region midway between science and sorcery – and Marian Womack excels at the tricky balancing act, mixing methodical deductive processes with bursts of wild imagination. Highly recommended to all lovers of gaslit crime and the Gothic!"
Tim Major, author of Sherlock Holmes and The Twelve Thefts of Christmas
"An intoxicating journey through the occult demi-monde of the fin de siècle. Womack leads us down into an underworld rife with deceit and strange dangers."
Verity Holloway, author of The Others of Edenwell
"The intricate plot seamlessly weaves together mystery, fantasy and some very curious historical incidents. A delightfully detailed puzzle box of a book."
A.J. Elwood, author of The Cottingley Cuckoo
Praise for The Golden Key
With hints of the brooding Gothic of Rawblood and Rebecca, this wonderfully creepy historical novel makes it absolutely clear that Marian Womack is a rising star.
An intriguing and unsettling tale. . . Womack brings a great sense of the uncanny to the Fens.
The Golden Key mesmerizes… A beguiling mystery that lingers long after reading.
A fey, unsettling vision of Norfolk, and London, that fans of The Essex Serpent will love... This book gives up its secrets like a puzzle box.
A fascinating, unsettling tale that shifts, mutates and changes meaning much like the eerie ruined house in the fens at the centre of this weird and brilliant debut novel.
Praise for The Swimmers
"A meticulously detailed novel set in a vivid, believable eco-dystopia... Womack draws in readers immediately with her dreamy depictions of the landscape and its dangers. At its heart, however, the novel is a probing examination of cultural and class differences. Readers will be captivated." – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“A richly imagined eco-gothic tale.”
The Times, 10 Best SF Books of 2021
For Annihilation fans, the prose is fluid & gorgeously intimate. The questions of our future—a sea of plastic/the intersection of class & climate change—are explored on a tender, personal scale.
Womack has an eye for both the beauty and the horror of the natural world. Like a strange fever dream, the world of The Swimmers is uncanny and unfamiliar, wonderfully compelling and utterly inescapable. One of my favourite books of the year.
Jane Eyre meets Annihilation in this ingenious, bewitching novel. The prose is as lush and terrifying as the warped jungle Earth has become. This is speculative fiction at its best: thought-provoking, riveting, and gorgeously told.
Womack is an exciting and endlessly inventive writer. I look forward to reading everything she writes. Naomi Booth
Womack is a wonderful writer, and The Swimmers is a marvellous, heartbreaking exploration of the world we are busy creating, and the world we must then inhabit.
Praise for Lost Objects
Intriguing and illuminating… chockfull of interesting ideas about the natural world and ourselves.
Marian Womack weaves together the lyricism of Angela Carter, the mad imagination of China Miéville, and the earthiness of Robert Macfarlane.
Luminous and disturbing as the unearthly things they describe, Marian Womack’s gorgeously written tales map the shifting boundaries between waking life and dream, past and future and our own profoundly unsettled present. Reading them left me with goosebumps, and the craving for more stories by this supremely gifted new writer.