Shadows And Elephants

Written by Edward Hower
Review by Alice Logsdon

Sent to cover a spiritualists’ gathering for the New York Daily Graphic, lawyer, war veteran and journalist Capt. Benjamin Blackburn expects to find the usual spook show. Instead, he meets Irena Milanova, a charming Russian émigré equally dismissive of the “flapdoodle” widely peddled as spiritualism to enthusiastic crowds in post-Civil War society. The two join forces, eventually founding the Alexandrian Society. Dedicated to the exploration of an eclectic mix of Eastern spirituality, and guided by revelations from Masters Moreya and Kut-huri, with whom Irena communicates across the astral plane, they attract a veritable Who’s Who list of New York society to their meetings, at first. Later, dwindling resources coupled with the threat of a scandal convince “the Founders” to move their base of operations.

After the action shifts from New York to India, the author’s gift for colorful description is given full rein. Hower brilliantly brings to life the sights and sounds of India as Ben and Irena travel from Bombay to Ceylon to Madras in pursuit of their dreams and schemes. The story of the pair’s enduring friendship is equally intriguing. Hower takes great care to show that despite their professional weaknesses and personal foibles their love and support for each other is truly pure.

This story is based on actual events and loosely mirrors the lives of Madame Helena Blavatsky and her partner, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, founders of the American Theosophical Society.