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Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite
Harvard graduates Dr. Higgs and Dr. Price join the state asylum at Hamlin, only to find their long-cherished dreams of serving humankind shattered. Apart from their inhumane treatment of patients, the authorities seem too keen to admit as many female trance mediums as possible. Many of these women reportedly have ties to the ongoing Suffrage movement. Disgusted, the doctors resign and join Hopewell School, where the enigmatic Professor Hopewell claims to heal his patients with magnetic touches. When Clara, a well-known medium, flees the asylum and seeks refuge at their sanatorium, the doctor duo faces a conundrum. Can they find a logical explanation for Clara’s dissociative personality? Charani’s Gift, a novel by Robert Nolin, can give you the answers.
Set during the 1890s, a period when the mysteries of the human psyche eluded even the most learned scholars, the story offers a mind-boggling discourse. Robert Nolin perfectly captures a society where mediumship, hypnosis, and mesmerism were prevalent. The novel demonstrated how con artists preyed on gullible and vulnerable people with their mind tricks while the scientific community busied itself in lofty discussions. I loved how Nolin portrayed the conflict between neurology and psychiatry, featuring scholars who supported the theory of mind-body dualism. The narrative also authentically presented the socio-political scenario, highlighting the uprising of Suffragists and the authorities’ desperate attempts to quell them. Underneath these realities, Nolin masterfully wove a discreet thread of the supernatural into the storyline that defied all scientific explanations. I would recommend Charani’s Gift to anyone looking for a thought-provoking read that enmeshes science with mysticism.