Mediums and Spirit Cabinets (Research for Cusp of Night)

I love hosting authors here, and I’m never happier to do it than when I know the writer and her work—and LOVE both. Mae Clair has been here before, and she’s always entertaining and always offering a fascinating story. Today is no exception. She’s releasing her latest novel, Cusp of Night, the first of her newest saga (The Hode’s Hill Series), and she’s agreed to share some of her research with us. Let’s give her a warm welcome.

Cusp of NightThanks for having me as your guest today. I’ve been making the rounds with my latest release, Cusp of Night, a book with timelines set in the past and present. This is becoming a trend in fiction, especially with suspense novels. Cusp of Night is equal parts suspense and mystery with elements of the supernatural—and more than a few historical facts.

The research for this book was fascinating, especially as related to the past—in which my main character is a spiritualist of the late 19th Century. We often think of a séance with many people holding hands around a table, but in the time period in which I’ve set my book, many mediums used a “spirit cabinet.”

First introduced by Ira and Henry Davenport, the spirit cabinet was similar to a free-standing closet. During séances, the medium would sit inside the closet, hidden by a curtain or doors. Occasionally, a medium might invite a “sitter” to inspect the cabinet to ensure nothing was hidden inside.

Image via: By Henry Ridgely Evans [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To ensure no tomfoolery could take place, the medium would allow their hands to be tied, then enter the cabinet with the curtain or door closed behind them. Once the lights were lowered, the medium would slip their bounds and manipulate items hidden in a trap door—bells, chimes, even fake “ectoplasm.” Some spirit cabinets had artfully concealed false doors in the back, allowing the medium to don wigs, creep free, and steal about the room in the guise of a phantom. Before the lights were raised, the medium would ease back inside the spirit cabinet and retie their bonds.

In some cases, spirit cabinets had slots for the medium to slide their hands through and join with others at the table. In this case, the medium had to be extremely skilled to slip free, leaving the sitter grasping a fake hand. Sound crazy?

Remember, those attending a séance were focused on what was happening around them, not the fingers twined with theirs. With bells chiming, tables tilting, and ghostly faces bobbing from the darkness (all things a skilled medium could achieve using their toes and hidden wires), no one was apt to notice a change of grip on their fingers. As farfetched as it seems, this is stuff really happened.

In Cusp of Night, my main character in the past timeline—Lucinda Glass—uses a spirit cabinet. To find out how, you’ll have to read the book. 🙂 Maybe I can tempt you with the blurb:

Cusp of Night


Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .


You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

Well, if that doesn’t entice you, I don’t know what will. Perhaps a word-of-mouth recommendation. I’ve read it, and I LOVED it. Mae has a way with words that is unparalleled, and she wove the plot threads together masterfully. I highly recommend this novel.

If you’d like to talk to Mae about this post or her novel, please leave her a comment. I know she’d love to chat with you. Thanks.

An unexpected family issue has come up. I will be offline today, but I’ll respond to comments tomorrow. Thanks for understanding.

Mae, so glad to have you here today. My book came at midnight, and I did a happy dance for you. Congratulations on your release!

38 thoughts on “Mediums and Spirit Cabinets (Research for Cusp of Night)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Cusp of Night by Mae Clair | Staci Troilo

  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

  3. I just wanted to thank everyone for their patience with me yesterday when I couldn’t be online. I appreciate it.

    A special thanks to Mae, not only for writing a great post, but for holding down the fort for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never heard of a spirit cabinet before! I always picture sitting around a table. I love all the research you do Mae! Can’t wait to read your book and great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve heard of it before, but then again, I watch the History Channel all the time. (And sometimes the Smithsonian Channel). They put interesting things on. (Or I’m weird and find odd things fascinating.)

      I’m a huge fan of research, and Mae definitely did her share for this book. And it shows. It’s authentic and real and so darn good!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Denise! Actually, until I started reading about this era, I had never heard of a spirit cabinet before either. Apparently, it was the way a lot of mediums worked in the day (better to hide all their gadgets for tricking people!). So glad you’re looking forward to the book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on From the Pen of Mae Clair and commented:

    I mentioned there would be unique information on my blog tour stops. Have you ever heard of a Spirit Cabinet before? Today, I’m sharing a post at Staci Troilo’s blog about how this device was used. Staci is a good friend and an excellent author. Be sure to check out her books while you’re there. I love them all, but the Medici Protectorate Series is my personal favorite. She’s highly supportive of others and a great one to follow if you’re not already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great content (as always). You know you’re always welcomed here.

      I’m so excited for you. I know this release is going to be huge! Wishing you nothing but the best.

      (And thanks for your patience regarding me not being here yesterday.)

      Liked by 1 person

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