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Liveright | ISBN 1631493817
They believed they would live forever. So begins the haunting account of the women of Camp Etna—an otherworldly community in the woods of Maine that has, since 1876, played host to generations of Spiritualists and mediums dedicated to preserving the links between the mortal realm and the afterlife. Beginning her narrative in 1848 with two sisters who claimed they could speak to the dead, Ptacin reveals how Spiritualism first blossomed into a national practice during the Civil War, yet continues—even thrives—to this very day. Immersing herself in this community and its practices—from ghost hunting to releasing trapped spirits to water witching— Ptacin sheds new light on our ongoing struggle with faith, uncertainty, and mortality. Blending memoir, ethnography, and investigative reportage, The In-Betweens offers a vital portrait of Camp Etna and its enduring hold on a modern culture that remains as starved for a deeper sense of connection and otherworldliness as ever.
Praise for The In-Betweens:
"An eye-opening, consistently fascinating, and engrossing profile of the modern spiritualist movement."
Kirkus Reviews, August 19, 2019
“Deft, immersive, and smart, ‘The In-Betweens’ is a marvelous exploration of a lost bit of history as well as a journalist’s deep dive into the idiosyncratic world of spirituality. How lucky we are that Ptacin stumbled onto Camp Etna! The book is equal parts funny and strange and surreal, and entirely engaging.”
Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book, Rin Tin Tin, and The Orchid Thief.
“THE IN-BETWEENS is a truly fascinating history of a little-known American community of Spiritualists. I’d never heard of Camp Etna before reading this book, and I can’t imagine how I’d missed it. This is a story of a deeply female, fiercely autonomous, open-hearted and searching group of spiritual seekers, whose ranks have refused for well over a century to comply with any conventional ideas about religion, power, and women. Ptacin approaches her subjects with a mind that is both open and enthusiastic, without ever losing her keen reporter’s edge. It’s a brilliant work, and a fabulous read.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and The Last American Man.
"By narrating the rise and fall of modern American Spiritualism through an amusingly detailed history of one of the movement's forgotten summer camps, Mira Ptacin brings to life one of the nation's most politically consequential—and most maligned—homegrown religions. Enthusiasts of occult Americana will delight in this book."
Adam Morris, author of American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation