Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review: We Hear the Dead

With the approaching festival, PAYA, coming up, I decided to check out the authors and purchase a selection of books that interested me most. WE HEAR THE DEAD by Dianne K Salerni was at the top of the list. A good friend of mine is very into spiritualism and has given a few workshops on it. He has talked in length about The Fox Sisters, so when I heard that this book was a historical novel based on their life, I decided I had to read it.

I have to admit that I don't usually read historical fiction. It was set in the mid 1800's, and while lines like "It is expected that a wife give up her interests for her husband's" may be accurate to the time, it made me want to hurt the people who said them. And the poor girl couldn't even take a walk with her beau without a chaperon. I am so glad I didn't have to live in that time. Whenever I’m asked what time period I’d want to live in if not this one, I always choose a time in the future. There was also some interesting bits on the underground railroad which was historically accurate to the time period.

I really liked the main character, Maggie Fox. The description I read made it seem like Kate Fox would narrate more than she did. She only had a few chapters here and there. Can I hope for a companion that focuses more on her? The oldest Fox sister, Leah, didn't narrate at all. The beginning of the book really sucked me in. Spiritualism, mediumship, communicating with the dead... it's something that has fascinated me for a long time. Whether these girls were really communicating with the dead remains to be seen. But seeing as how they've been dead themselves for more than a century, it's not likely we'll ever know the truth. However, if it was a hoax, it was never proven.

Ghosts, or spirits, began rapping on the walls of the home they lived in. They asked the ghosts questions while the ghosts rapped twice for yes and once for no. By creating the rapping, they passed along messages of the dead. It became a phenomenon and drew in interested people from all over. They accepted money to pass along love one's messages and created the religion known as spiritualism.

The novel traveled from the spiritualism movement into Maggie's romance with Elisha Kent Kane, a famous explorer. While this didn't interest me as much as the spirit rapping, it was well written, nicely told, and still very engaging. Maggie's teenage life definitely had its ups and downs. Living in high society while holding spirit circles and pulling away from it to gain approval of potential in-laws. I'm definitely very interested in learning more about these amazing ladies.
Whether you like historical fiction or not, this is definitely a wonderful read. I just finished it and kind of want to read it again.

Also, I need to gush about the cover a bit. I found out that this book was originally published a few years ago as HIGH SPIRITS: A TALE OF GHOSTLY RAPPING AND ROMANCE while WE HEAR THE DEAD came out just this past May, and I adore the new cover. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it in any stores. I think if it was, it would sell. How could you pass by and not pick it up?



I began the deception when I was too young to know right from wrong. Only with the passing of time did I come to understand the consequences of my actions.

I do not believe that I have ever intentionally deceived anyone. Maggie has a different understanding of the events that have happened. To her the spirits were always a game. For me they were my life's calling. I have no regrets.

It starts as a harmless prank...then one lie quickly grows into another. Soon Kate and Maggie Fox are swept into a dizzying flurry of national attention for their abilities to communicate with the dead. But living a lie is sometimes too much to handle, even if you have the best intentions. Based on a true story, We Hear the Dead reveals how secrets and lies can sometimes lead you to what's real and what's right. And how sometimes talking with the dead is easier than talking with the people around you.
And if you're interested, here is the trailer for WE HEAR THE DEAD. I love how Ms Salerni used old images of the Fox Sisters in making this. And on to other interesting news... a movie has been optioned. And check out Dianne Salerni's blog, In High Spirits.


Little Miss Becky said...

Glad to hear this is a good one---it's sitting on my shelf, prettily waiting for me to read it! I will have to get to it soon!

Mistress of the Library said...

Aine! I have an award for you!

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