Thursday, May 05, 2011

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin, illustrator Lisa Brown

Back during and after the Civil War, photography was gaining in both quality and popularity. Still, many photo's were less than perfect. Unexpected shadows appeared on many. Some photographers and mediums took advantage. They called the photos pictures of the dead and offered to hold seances to contact the soldiers killed in the war and see if their pictures appeared on a family photo, see if there were contacts of the auditory kind. In one family, the nicer boys did not return home. Only the darker brother, clearly with secrets returned. Quinn's mother went into deep mourning for her lost son William. Jennie was to have married William. Jennie had been able to feel her brother's presence and wanted to feel the presence of William as well. She wanted to help her grieving relatives find closure. So it was that she contacted a photographer/medium with mixed results but with a ghostly picture of the family with an angel looking over them. Jennie learns a lot about photography and what really happened to Will and Quinn when she becomes a spy, coming up with clues from the picture - she recognized the angel- an intercepted message, an incomplete letter/confession, a news article, until finally she knows the entire sad story of Will's death and Quinn's survival which puts her life in peril. This causes to leave her family home and set off on her own, rare for a young lady of that time. The book is illustrated with eerie sepia colored pictures with the shadowy figures very visible.

I enjoyed this bit of history, I think even if a reader was not a history fan, the story could be read for the ghostly mystery and enjoy it. JDW5/5/11

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