Things went a little strange here this weekend, thus freeing me up a lot of time to read while waiting for people to arrive and leave and arrive again. So, I read Sarah Water’s Affinity and John Searles’ Help for the Haunted.
In order to talk about what I want to talk about–that these are the same story in different books–spoilers abound.
So, to be clear, I’m not making any kind of accusation of plagiarism. It’s not the same writing. I don’t think Searles ripped off Waters. The plots are really different. But both books are about what happens when people pretending to have supernatural powers come into contact with women who aren’t allowed to be lesbians and what goes wrong because of that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I guessed that Rose in Help for the Haunted was gay precisely because of Affinity.
Anyway, I really enjoyed them both. I think Affinity is slightly better. But it’s so terrible. I would say, about 2/3 of the way through, I figured out what was going on–though not exactly the particulars–and I spent the last half of the book really hoping I was wrong or that, at the least, Margaret would have some kind of happy ending. But no!
Help for the Haunted has some things it’s probably best to not think too hard about–like why a troubled girl is made the guardian of her younger sister instead of dumping the sister into the foster system, or why the younger sister would be able to kill a person without any kind of real fall-out. But it was still entertaining.
Just weird that two books, kind of picket at random, just for the Spiritualism tie in, would be so similar in other ways.