The Seer of Shadows

by Avi

Fourteen-year-old Horace works as an apprentice to a photographer who has just been... read more

Fourteen-year-old Horace works as an apprentice to a photographer who has just been hired by a wealthy grieving woman. She wants him to take a portrait of her so that she can place it next to the grave of her recently deceased daughter. Sensing fiscal opportunity, the photographer decides to take advantage of the woman’s distress by using double-exposure to make it appear as though the ghost of the dead daughter has been captured by his camera. What he doesn’t know is that the woman really is being haunted by the girl, who turns out to be not her daughter but a niece whom she treated cruelly before her death. Horace learns these details through conversations he has with the woman’s servant girl while doing his own secretive picture taking at their home under his boss’s orders. To his dismay, he discovers the images he takes really are haunted by the ghostly image of the girl, whose spirit is out for revenge. Part ghost story, part mystery, this engaging novel set in New York City in 1872 offers a strong sense of time and place, as well as fascinating details about early photography. The author is particularly skilled at using formal, old-fashioned language to give a sense of history, but he’s smart enough not to overdo it. (Ages 9–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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