The Seer of Shadows

The Seer of Shadows
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
March 25, 2008
ISBN
0060000155
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Newbery Medalist Avi weaves one of his most suspenseful and scary tales--about a ghost who has to be seen to be believed and must be kept from carrying out a horrifying revenge.

The time is 1872. The place is New York City. Horace Carpetine has been raised to believe in science and rationality. So as apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer, he thinks of his trade as a scientific art. But when wealthy society matron Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photographic portrait, strange things begin to happen.

Horace's first real photographs reveal a frightful likeness: it's the image of the Von Machts' dead daughter, Eleanora.

Pegg, the Von Machts' black servant girl, then leads him to the truth about who Eleanora "really" was and how she actually died. Joined in friendship, Pegg and Horace soon realize that his photographs are evoking both Eleanora's image and her ghost. Eleanora returns, a vengeful wraith intent on punishing those who abused her.

Rich in detail, full of the magic of early photography, here is a story about the shadows, visible and invisible, that are always lurking near.

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The Dead Are Negatives of the Living
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Joe M.

Horace Carpetine is a fourteen-year-old who lives in 1872 and plans on being a world-renowned photographer when he grows up. He is apprenticed to Mr. Enoch Middleditch, a cunning, shrewd man who is in it for the money.


One day, Mr. Middleditch is asked to take a portrait of a Mrs. Von Macht so that she may lay it on her dead daughter's grave. Mr. Middleditch plans to manipulate the picture to add the face of the deceased Eleanora Von Macht, and become a famous "spirit photographer." However, Mrs. Von Macht's servant Pegg tells Horace that Eleanora was not Mrs. Von Macht's daughter at all and that she died of neglect, not a fever.

It is when the final portrait is presented to Mrs. Von Macht that things are not as they appear. The image of Eleanora's superimposed face is smiling--but Horace only sees malice and bloodlust in those eyes! How is it that only he can see this? Who was this "Eleanora"? Horace and Pegg must discover a way to send Eleanora back to her grave before she can murder Mr. and Mrs. Von Macht.

I think this story was very well written and nicely told. Sometimes I wondered, "Would a 14 year old boy really talk like this?" However, I can't be sure. "The Seer of Shadows" is full of suspense, action, and secrets. The only let-down was a bit of lagging through the first twenty chapters or so. While the chapters are very short, it seems to take a long time before there's any confirmation of "Oh my gosh, her ghost is really back!" .

A must-have for ghost enthusiasts or those wishing for a mild thrill. Although the label is for "Ages 10+" I'd recommend it for anyone.
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Historical Fiction with a creepy ghost plot
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4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by mlecompt

Horace is apprentice to a photographer in New York City in 1872. He is fascinated with photography and enjoys his job even though he doesn't think much of his boss. His opinion of his boss sinks really low when he decides to insert a ghostly image into a client's portrait to make her think her daughter's spirit is close by. The boss reckons this will drum up a lot of business, but Horace feels it is too dishonest. There is more to the client's family than meets the eye, however, and Horace finds himself entangled in the Von Macht family's business when he befriends of their servants. He also begins to see real ghosts and worries if he is the one bringing them into this world.

This book is mostly historical fiction with a ghost plot. The Von Macht's secret is well drawn out through the book and is an interesting start to Horace's friendship with their servant. The ghost plot is not overwhelming and is just creepy enough to give a few shivers. Post-Civil War New York is well-established, but I felt like it could have used a few more touches to make it seem more real for readers. Overall though, it's a great read for someone looking for historical fiction.
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