Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: We Hear the Dead

Title: We Hear the Dead
Author: Dianne K. Salerni
Release Date: May 1, 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Cover Designer:
Marci Senders
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Historical fiction
Tagline: Maggie Fox didn't mean to create a new religion...
Summary: 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.

My Review:
Okay, admit it...how many of you glanced at the title and cover and thought this book was a paranormal romance set in the Victorian era? I know I did, at least until I read the summary. But this book was more interesting than anything supernatural would have been.

It was about Maggie and Kate Fox, the two girls who were responsible for the creation of spiritualism. However, they were frauds! It all started when they were children. Their niece Lizzie was visiting, and Maggie and Kate didn’t want her around. They made rapping sounds and talked to the “ghost” that was making them, just as a prank to scare Lizzie away. But it goes on for several nights, and their parents call the neighbors to come see, then the neighbors tell their friends, and before you know it, Maggie and Kate are hosting spirit circles. Only two people know that they’re frauds: Leah, their older sister (and Lizzie’s mother) who takes control of the deception as soon as she finds out, and Calvin, their close friends who helps them perform tricks such making the “spirits” play the piano or shake the table.

Now, I’m very, very picky when it comes to historical fiction about real people. If the facts aren’t accurate, I can’t take it. Luckily, We Hear the Dead was very historically accurate! Also, despite being 448 pages long, this book went by pretty fast. I often glance at the page number at random times while I’m reading, and in this case, I would be on page 100...then seemly a few moments later, I would be on page 146!

I guess you could say this book was told form alternating points of view, but it didn’t alternate very often. The sequence is about seven chapters from Maggie’s POV, then one from Kate’s (those numbers are not 100% accurate, but you know what I mean). I had absolutely no trouble distinguishing between the voices of the two girls, but I wish there had been more chapters from Kate’s POV.

Another thing I would have changed about this book was the fact that few side characters disappeared from the story when they were no longer needed. One of them was David, Maggie and Kate’s older brother. He was around a lot in the beginning of the book, but after Maggie, Kate, Leah and their mother moved from Hydesville, where the rapping began, to Rochester, he never appeared again, and was only mentioned once more. There was another character who "disappeared", but I can't say more than that without spoiling the book. I know that back in the 19th century people didn’t keep in touch much, but it still bothered me.

Entertaining and clever, We Hear the Dead was a well-written piece of historical fiction, even if there were a couple things I didn't like. The author has gotten me interested in the Fox sisters, and I’m definitely going to check out the list of sources and further reading she included in the back of the book.


  1. This looks really interesting to me especially since its not paranormal romance and you still enjoyed it. I love the title too it draws your curiosity in as well. Yea back then I don't think they had easy was to communicate with relatives if you moved all you could do was write. Great review.

  2. What an interesting concept! I absolutely thought that it was a Victorian paranormal romance when I saw the picture. My first thought was "oh, another Great and Terrible Beauty". I don't usually read historical fiction, but this one has me intrigued!

  3. It's the tag line which caught my attention although it seems to have little to do with the books (though I can see where it stems from). I never would have picked this up before but you're review has really got me wanting to give it a go :)


I read and appreciate every comment, so thank you in advance!

**This blog is an award-free zone.**