Review Blog

Feb 25 2010

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

cover image

HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN 9780060000172.
(Age 9-12) Recommended. Horace Carpentine is a young boy who works as an apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer. His father, who believes in science and rational thought and considers 'all superstition bunkum', has brought Horace up to be skeptical of the supernatural. However Horace's beliefs are challenged when the wealthy Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photo of a portrait of her dead daughter, Eleanora, and strange things begin to happen. When Horace's employer decides to sell her more pictures by tricking her about a ghost image in the first photograph, the spirit escapes the photographs.
Through his friendship with Pegg, the servant girl, Horace learns the truth about what happened to Eleanora and finds to his dismay that the photos that he takes of the dead girl's portrait and grave in Green-Wood Cemetry take on a life of their own. Told in the narrative voice of Horace, Avi, a Newbery Award winner, brings together a fascinating background about photography and its processes and life in New York in the 1880's.
 I found this to be a compelling ghost story, with believable characters and a terrifying ghost bent on revenge. The ending is scary enough to thrill readers who enjoy a good horror story set in a believable world.
Well written, suspenseful and memorable, this story lingers in the mind. There is an interesting and informative Extras section at the back of the book which contains information about A day in the life of Avi the history of photography and Fun and spooky Green-Wood Cemetry facts which add to the reader's knowledge of the period.
Pat Pledger

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