Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin

(Lisa Brown, Illustrator)

Living in the aftermath of the American Civil War, Jennie Lovell has no choice to accept certain things. Her twin brother Toby is dead. Her fiancé and cousin Will Pritchett is dead. Treated more like a servant than a lady in her aunt and uncle's home, Jennie survives.

The Pritchett family seeks out the services of Heinrich Geist, a spirit photographer, in hopes of seeing their son once more. Jennie begins an uneasy friendship with Geist. She hopes to explain the unusual happenings in her life. She learns the hard way that the ghost of her fiancé means no harm, but his living brother does. A tale of mystery and intrigue set against the background of the Civil War.

What I thought: I couldn't put this book down. I love mysteries and Picture the Dead was certainly a mystery . Very well written--I didn't suspect anything until Jennie did. The photography details were so interesting. Jennie is a strong character--stronger than even she can believe. Once she knows the truth, she confronts it. The Pritchett family and their treatment of Jennie seems strange to me, but I think their attitudes fit the time.

The illustrations were wonderful. The simple black and white color palette really added to the mystery and inevitable darkness of the story. My favorite illustrations were of the author and illustrator. I'd like to be illustrated like that. I once dressed up as Jo March (Little Women) for Halloween--hoop skirt and all! The author's note was very informative. I particularly liked the details behind the illustrations.

The book will pair well with The River Between Us by Richard Peck, Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein, and Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells. I hope Adele and Lisa will work together again.

(Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Fire, May 2010. ARC provided by publisher.)

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