From Back Cover: Jennie feels the tingling presence of something unnatural in the house now that Will is dead. Her heart aches without him, and she still doesn't know how he really died. It seems that everywhere she turns, someone is hiding yet another clue. As Jennie seeks the truth, she finds herself drawn even deeper into a series of tricks and lies, secrets and betrayals, and begins to wonder if she had ever really known Will at all.
My Rating: 5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: When I got Adele Griffin's Picture the Dead in the mail, I couldn’t help flipping through the pages and admiring the gorgeous illustrations within. Days later, I read the book and was thrilled to find that the gothic ghost story and mystery is just as good.
The main character, Jennie, is an orphan in a precarious living situation: her twin brother Tobias and cousin/fiancé Will are both dead, her uncle doesn’t really care about her, and her aunt is vile. This immediately made her a narrator I could sympathize with; but at the same time, I didn’t fully trust her because she also had a tendency to steal things (albeit for her scrapbook).
Faced with the prospect of possibly being thrown out, Jennie tries to make herself indispensable to the household by caring for her cousin Quinn (who has returned injured from the battlefield whilst fighting for the Union Army) and taking on other chores, essentially turning into a servant. In the process of nursing Quinn back to health, Jennie realizes that he’s keeping a secret about Will, and becomes determined to find out what it is since it's affecting their blossoming relationship and she's being haunted by Will’s ghost.
I found Picture the Dead’s pacing to be perfect for enjoying Lisa Brown’s artwork, the historical background of the setting, and the mystery. Set while the Civil War is occurring and the Spiritualist movement just beginning, the story was full of twists and turns, and the way it all came together at the end was completely unexpected! Though I thought that this would be a scarier read, I had no problem that Griffin didn’t leave me wondering whether I should turn off the lights at night. I avoid horror at all costs so if you’re as big a chicken as I am but want to read a slightly spooky story, Picture the Dead is the book for you.
Utterly delightful in both content and appearance, Picture the Dead was first released in May 2010 by Sourcebooks Fire. The pretty paperback version I have was released on February 1, 2012.
Comments About the Cover: The colours and clean, simple design of Picture the Dead will make it easily stand out in a shelf full of covers featuring girls in dresses that I wish I had. The photo of Jennie and Tobias at the front also gives you a good idea of how Brown’s illustrations look.
In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks Fire) for free.