We Hear the DeadWe Hear the Dead by Dianne Salerni

Although I’ve read a bunch of books that mention the spiritualist movement or use mediums and seances as plot devices, I really had no idea how the whole thing got started until I started reading this book. It’s extremely accessible historical fiction – spirit rapping makes for a great hook, there are enough period details and language to create a sense of time and place, but those details always leave plenty of room for the plot and characters. In one of those fascinating turns that history takes, Maggie Fox was engaged to the then-famous explorer Elisha Kane, and their romance takes over as the major plot element partway through the book. Salerni throws in other interesting bits of history – women’s suffrage, abolitionists, class issues, science and exploration – making the whole thing a compelling, fun read.

Salerni includes an interesting note and bibliography at the end, which is handy since I’m sure many readers will want to learn more. The target audience is probably teens, but there’s no content that would make it inappropriate for a middle school audience.

One minor complaint – what’s up with the cover?  It’s fantastically eye-catching, but it’s hardly what I imagine the Fox sisters wearing, based on the emphasis on remaining respectable young ladies.

Source: my library system

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