Review: Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin

Title: Pic­ture the Dead
(Ama­zon, Goodreads, Web­site)
Author: Adele Grif­fin
(Ama­zon, Goodreads, Web­site)
Series: None
Pub­lisher: Source­Books Fire
Genre: His­tor­i­cal Romance, Para­nor­mal Thriller
For­mat: Paper­back
Source: Pub­lisher pro­vided review copy


On the home front near Boston in 1864, Jen­nie feels her twin’s pres­ence like “a wave crash­ing over me” moments after he dies in a Union field hos­pi­tal. Over the next year, she senses his pres­ence and, more strongly, that of her fiancé, their cousin Will, who also died in the war. Will’s brother Quinn arrives home wounded, gaunt, and haunted by his expe­ri­ences. When his painful rev­e­la­tions change the way she thinks about Will, Jen­nie faces hard choices and tries to con­tact the dead for guid­ance in dis­cov­er­ing the truth. Brown’s evoca­tive black-​​and-​​white draw­ings of pho­tographs, let­ters, and other doc­u­ments such as news­pa­per clip­pings appear between chap­ters in four-​​page, black-​​paper sec­tions rep­re­sent­ing Jennie’s scrap­books and, equally, pos­si­ble evi­dence in the mys­tery. Although Griffin’s vivid writ­ing will draw read­ers into Jennie’s first-​​person nar­ra­tive of love, doubt, and mys­tery, the tale goes beyond her par­tic­u­lar ghosts and also shows how broadly the coun­try was haunted: sur­vivors by the loss of loved ones and sol­diers by wretched mem­o­ries. A Civil War ghost story with gothic overtones.


I took longer to read this than I had planned since it was a short book, but I did enjoy it.  I had my sus­pi­cions through­out and was pleas­antly sur­prised to dis­cover that some of them were true.  Jen­nie is a well-​​developed char­ac­ter and as the story unfolds, Grif­fin draws the reader into the story.  Directed towards six to nine year olds and I can see myself at that age enjoy­ing this book a lot.  Filled with images of Jennie’s scrap­book, the reader gets a more tac­tile approach to the book than mere sto­ry­telling.  If some of the let­ters had been more read­able, I would have enjoyed it even more, sleuthing through the hand­writ­ten clues along with Jen­nie, but even not being able to read it all, I didn’t feel it detracted much from the book itself.

There are a few nice twists to this story, and over­all I would rec­om­mend this book to young chil­dren with an inter­est in ghosts and his­tor­i­cal fiction.

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