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WE HEAR THE DEAD by Dianne K. Salerni

WE HEAR THE DEAD

By Dianne K. Salerni

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4022-3092-9
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

This unusual historical romance deals with a compelling subject: the true story of the infamous Fox sisters, who inadvertently began the spiritualist movement in 1848. Despite her book’s length, Salerni easily holds reader interest as she describes, usually from Maggie’s point of view, the inner workings of the Fox sisters’ deception. As Maggie confessed in 1888, they produced loud rapping “spirit” sounds primarily through cracking their ankle and toe joints. The author focuses her story first on Maggie’s conflicted feelings about her fraud, then on her romance with the famous Arctic explorer Elisha Kane, while depicting societal norms of the time through the difficulties of their unequal relationship. Ironically, history remembers Maggie Fox, while Kane, highly celebrated in his day, has been forgotten. The research is excellent, and the author displays a facility for fluid prose even as she writes in a modified archaic style that lends credence to the first-person conceit of the novel. Although the book’s length may discourage some readers, those caught in the story will enjoy it. A promising debut. (Historical fiction. YA)