Daniel Home is a frequent guest at society soirées in Victorian London, where he presides over séances replete with levitating tables, ghostly apparitions, and inexplicable happenings. After one such evening, Robert Browning denounces Home as a scoundrel, a fake — although there exists no proof to substantiate the accusation.
Browning’s claim hangs over Daniel, a thin and reclusive man, for the rest of his life — not because he is a fake, but because his “gift” has never been of benefit to him.
Eventually, Daniel leaves London for Florence, where he attempts to fit into the English colony of painters, writers, and collectors — all of whom are misfits of one kind or another. Florence, however, does not afford Home the peace he hopes for; in fact, he finds himself the subject of vicious rumours and the victim of an attempt on his life.
Word of Home’s gift reaches the shores of the U.S., in the midst of the Civil War. He is called upon to travel to Washington to assist Mary Todd Lincoln in contacting her dead son. It is in this séance that Homes first experiences his own gifts — it is an experience that transforms him and is of lasting benefit for the Lincolns.
“King constructs a threefold mystery narrative — equal parts serial killer whodunit, art-world intrigue, and supernatural mystery — that raises questions about the relationship between reality and contrivance, life and art, the authentic and the illusory … The story is thematically intriguing, the mysteries are skillfully devised, and the historical details are convincingly drawn.”
“King’s elegant prose reflects perfectly the restraint of the age, and his obvious passion for the details … With Transformations, King has delivered a book that is at once thoughtful, entertaining, melancholy, and uplifting.”
“Distilling vast references into a narrative of mixed styles — from sparse to rococo — King straddles a barely discernable line between fact and fiction … King’s spin on literary artistic and social pretensions is ambitious and intriguing.”