Picture the Dead

Picture the Dead

2.2 5
by Adele Griffin

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A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious

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A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone-or something-stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

Praise for Picture the Dead

"A tour de force, a remarkable feat of visual and verbal storytelling, as playful as it is serious, as haunting as it is delightful."
-Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize—winning novelist

"Love story, mystery, ghost story...Picture the
Dead is a gripping, gorgeously graphic novel about a girl who risks everything...Jennie's voice and the pictures she shows us bring this swift, wonderfully chilling story to life."
-Kit Reed, author of The Night Children

"I loved Picture the Dead. Eerie, romantic, moody, and immersive. A beautifully illustrated gothic delight!"
-Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this smartly restrained ghost story, orphan Jennie has already lost her twin brother to the Civil War, but when her brooding cousin, Quinn, returns wounded to their Massachusetts home, she learns that Will--Quinn's brother and Jennie's fiancé--is also dead. Displaced and treated like a servant by her miserly aunt, Jennie succumbs to Quinn's romantic advances, in spite of a ghostly recurring sensation that she is being choked, and her sense that something's amiss with Will's death. Integrated letters, scrawled notes, and Brown's (How to Be) digital portraits (based on daguerreotypes) provide foreshadowing, while contributing to the unease that gnaws at Jennie's stark yet beautiful narration. Through her association with a spirit photographer, Mr. Geist, Jennie presumes that Will is jealous over her engagement to Quinn, but Griffin's (the Vampire Island series) house of mirrors unveils secrets more sinister. Despite the powerful conclusion, it's moments of quiet perception that should most resonate, as when Mr. Geist distinguishes between memory and haunting: "For if memory is the wave that buoys our grief, haunting is the undertow that drags us to its troubled source." Ages 12–up. (May)
Shelf Awareness
"Adele Griffin here combines the supernatural elements she explored in The Other Shepherds and the war themes of Sons of Liberty to chilling and riveting effect... Griffin smoothly weaves together the growing popularity of the Spiritualist movement... with breakthroughs in photography... Lisa Brown's drawings, which evoke the period and also act as faux facsimiles of Jennie's scrapbook, elevate the suspense and contribute to this gripping novel's Daphne Du Maurier-like aura."
- ShelfAwareness

— Jennifer Brown

"Evocative black-and-white drawings... Griffin's vivid writing will draw readers into Jennie's first-person narrative of love, doubt, and mystery... The tale goes beyond [Jennie's] particular ghosts and 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."
- Booklist

— Carolyn Phelan

The New York Times
Brown's striking portraits, drawings displayed throughout as though in a photo album, animate this artful Civil War-era novel. Jennie, 16 years old and an orphan, is left without prospects when Will, her fiancé, dies on the battlefield: his mother is her reluctant guardian, and makes it clear she is no longer welcome in the house. With the aid of a spirit photographer, Jennie attempts to get to the bottom of a mystery: How exactly did Will die, and why does she keep having such horrible dreams? The story is engrossing and the period details an added pleasure.
— Julie Just
From the Publisher
"PICTURE THE DEAD is filled with interesting historical detail and excellent illustrations that heighten the suspense, and readers will enjoy traveling through time in this Civil War caper. " - Teen Reads

"Picture the Dead makes an important contribution to Civil War novels and would be an excellent purchase any reader who enjoys a good mystery and ghost story." - Bibliophilic Book Blog

" Punctuated with family photos, handwritten letters, and other mementos from Jennie's scrapbook, Picture the Dead is a classic ghost story for teenage and adult readers alike." - Sacramento Book Review

"But the story and setting were engrossing, and that's all I can ask for as a reader. " - Beth Hull

"This book is those wonderful reads that can actually steal you away from reality and plunk you directly in the passenger seat next to the main character." - Kiss the Book

"Definitely an interesting read—give it a try if you're up for something cool and different!" - Good Books Lately

"The story is filled with twists and turns that kept me constantly guessing and gripping the edge of my seat in anticipation." - Small Review

"Griffin's lauguage is the right amount of beauty and questioning darkness. And 100% lovely. " - Happy Nappy Bookseller

"One thing I really enjoyed about this story was how well the mystery developed. I honestly thought I had the ending figured out, but there was so much more to it than I expected. " - The Ninja Librarian

"It did a great job of capturing the gruesome, unsettling, and extremely creepy, setting of America towards the end of the Civil War. " - Plymouth Library"I couldn't put this book down and I am sure that a student wouldn't be able to either. " - Kiss the Book

"A tale of lost love, family betrayal and visits from the spirit world, also included is an engaging thread involving a spirit medium who employs photography in his fraudulent craft. Each of the short chapters is paired with Brown's darkly inked, realistic drawings that mimic the look of photographs, newspaper articles and letters written in the elaborate cursive style of the era."
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
When her twin, Toby, is killed in battle, Jennie Lovell finds comfort in the whisperings that come from his spirit and in the fact that her fiance, Will, may still return from the ravages of the Civil War. Then Will's younger brother, Quinn, returns seriously wounded, with news of Will's death, and Jennie's hope for a future with Will is lost. Haunted by her grief, Jennie begins to get spectral messages from Will that reveal there is more to the story of his death than Quinn is divulging. Lead by Will and supported by a spiritualist photographer, Jennie uncovers the truth behind Quinn's dangerous web of lies. With unremarkable characters and a simple plot, this book would have little to recommend except for the extraordinary way it combines social and physical history to make the perfect setting. Drawing on the popular Victorian pastime of keeping scrapbooks, each chapter is preceded by reproductions from Jennie's personal book that not only support the text but also reveal intriguing clues to the mystery. Drawing on the spiritualist movement that grew in popularity at this time adds the ambiance of the period and makes this a less overt ghost story. With social history woven into the physical realities of the Civil War, including its effect on the soldiers and the families they left behind, this novel creates a uniquely holistic view of the time period that is often lacking in other works of historical fiction. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—This highly unusual book is a combination of historical fiction, a ghost story, and a scrapbook. Jennie Lovell's twin brother, Toby, and her fiancé, Will, have been killed in the Civil War, the latter under mysterious circumstances. Will's brother returns home a battered, bitter young man with secrets that Jennie is determined to uncover. She is under the guardianship of her aunt and uncle, Will and Quinn's parents, and they threaten to turn her out. She is mesmerized by a photographer who claims to be able to capture images from the spirit world, and she uses this relationship to explore the signs she believes Will is sending her, warnings that she must decipher carefully. In the end, it isn't clear if the ghost of Jennie's fiancé is real or a figment of her imagination, which makes the story all the more eerie. What is suspect, and frightening, is Quinn's sudden interest in Jennie. The inclusion of family portraits, invitations, newspaper clippings, and letters from her scrapbook make the reading experience rich with texture. Serious readers of historical fiction will be pleased to discover a book with a unique perspective on such a well-represented period of American history as well as a good story with suspense and a determined heroine.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
Kirkus Reviews
A brooding mystery set during the Civil War, this gripping ghost story of a young woman trapped by the confines of her gender and social standing is not altogether successful in its format. Blending straightforward first-person narration and illustrations fashioned to look like a scrapbook, much of the novel's impact is drawn from its protagonist Jennie's beautifully crafted plaintive voice. A tale of lost love, family betrayal and visits from the spirit world, also included is an engaging thread involving a spirit medium who employs photography in his fraudulent craft. Each of the short chapters is paired with Brown's darkly inked, realistic drawings that mimic the look of photographs, newspaper articles and letters written in the elaborate cursive style of the era. Alas, the repetition of some of the images is too unsubtle in foreshadowing the story's conclusion. Also, though carefully rendered, the illustrations often interrupt rather than enhance the flow of the work and may seem out of place for older teen readers, who would otherwise be a natural audience for this appealingly gothic work. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
Julie Just
Brown's striking portraits, drawings displayed throughout as though in a photo album, animate this artful Civil War-era novel…The story is engrossing and the period details an added pleasure.
—The New York Times

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.30(d)
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 17 Years

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Picture the Dead 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
Picture the Dead is an unearthly romantic tale set in the civil war era. Jennie lives with her aunt and uncle and is engaged to their son, Will. After Will's death, his brother, Quinn, returns home injured. Quinn is moody and quiet and very reluctant to talk about the trials of war. However what he does tell Jennie disturbs her greatly. The Will that Quinn tells her about is not the Will she knows. Desperate to find the truth Jennie seeks the help of the supernatural. What she uncovers is far worse than she ever imagined. The story is told from Jennie's point of view. It also contains sections in the book that look like a scrapbook. The pictures in this book have scribbling underneath them expressing Jennie's feelings about that particular picture. This is an unique way to help convey the main character's feeling. Lisa Brown did a fantastic job. This really added to the book. I like that this book takes part during the civil war. The authors combine history with superstition and spins it into this mysterious tale of romance and intrigue. This was an enjoyable read from start to finish. I found myself caught up in the story line eager to uncover the truth with the heroine. Overall this was a really good read. It is haunting, creepy and eerie. Although there is quite a bit of drama, I think this book would be appropriate for kids twelve and up. It's fairly clean with only a little war time violence. However you might get chills while reading this book.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
Picture the Dead was an interesting book. It was a quick read, because it actually had pictures--the second author credited on the cover is actually the illustrator--pictures which gave clues to things that were about to happen or clarified things that already had. I enjoyed the story, but the pacing seemed a bit off--for a lot of it, it felt like not much was happening and then once it did, bam! it all happened at once. Still, though, it was a fun way to spend a few hours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I totally reacmmed this book to others ota a great book!!! And a little scary hope you enjoy it as much as I did
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not great, not awful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a good book but kind of confusing with the supernatual and angel thing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pagese More than 1 year ago
This book surprised me! I think I was expecting a little bit more of a ghost story, which this story really isn't. You do get a little bit of that creepy feeling every once in awhile. But, it's more of a story about a young women coming to terms with the chaos and loss that surrounds her. I had a hard time getting into the story at first, and wasn't sure how I felt about the illustrations that came at the beginning of each chapter. But, the story builds into a wonderful mystery as you follow Jennie while she's trying to piece together what happened. What she discovers was not what I was expecting and the dramatic ending fit perfectly with the events that unfolded in the book. I enjoyed the spiritualistic aspect of the story. I could take or leave the illustrations though. They were an interesting addition to the story, but I found myself skipping them more than anything.
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
Jennie is told that Will died in battle, but certain clues lead her to believe that something else happened. Something that Quinn and everyone else involved wants to cover up. With the belief that Will is haunting her, Jennie makes full use of her brother's spy tactics to figure out just what happened and if the true Will is the same Will that she knew and loved. In the spiritual photographer Geist, she finds a friend and fellow believer in ghosts. In Quinn, she finds comfort and a potential love she had never before considered. However, there is more to the true story and circumstances to Will's death than she could have imagined, and learning the truth could undermine the security that she's scrambling to establish in a hostile home. I love the subtle taste with which the supernatural elements are inserted into the story. There are signs and suggestions that a restless spirit haunts Jennie and the Prichett family; at the same time, it is easy to believe that Jennie might be being played and the true identity of the spirit is human. Whatever we choose to believe is up to us, the reader, but Jennie strongly believes that Will has come back to help her uncover the truth behind his death. Best of all, the story will keep you guessing and second guessing yourself on what really happened. Even after thinking through all the possibilities, I was beginning to fall for the lies when the truth came out, which was not at all what I was expecting after all that happens. It seems that I am not cut out for spy work at all! Picture the Dead isn't a long book, and the pages are filled with pictures from Jennie's scrapbook, always foreshadowing what is to come. The simplicity of the language lends power to the words wrought with emotion and is at a level where younger readers may also enjoy this beautiful, poignant story. The ease with which this story can be read and the gorgeous illustrations make this book a good read for readers of all ages.
Catie22 More than 1 year ago
I'll be very honest and say that I had some preconceived notions about how awesome this book was going to be because it had three of my favorite things: ghosts, the civil war and PICTURES! Yes, I'll admit that I'm basically 12 at heart and love illustrations to go along with a story. I'm a very visual person so the right illustrations can really enhance my reading enjoyment. Many people scoff at such things but I welcome pictures in novels! Ghosts and the Civil War kind of go hand in hand for me so if a book has both, it is a must read. Throw in an author like Adele Griffin and a super spooky plot and I expect nothing less than awesome. Picture the Dead mostly lived up to this expectation. Mostly. LIKES: Scrapbooks: Not only was this book beautifully illustrated, the illustrations were done as a scrapbook. They included letters and drawings as well as photos. Each scrapbook page pulled you farther into the story and helped to move it along at an exciting pace. The only problem with this is that I did catch myself cheating and jumping ahead to see what pictures were next. Bad! Twists and turns: I thought at one point that I new exactly what the "twist" was going to be and I was feeling pretty smug about the whole then. Then the story did a one-eighty and I was completely at a loss. I just didn't see the end coming and It hit me hard. I love it when a story surprised me. Jennie: Jennie was a genuinely likeable character with a lot of spunk, especially for a nineteenth century girl. I really felt for her and cared about her plight. She pulled me into the story and made it very real. DISLIKES: Kissing cousins, no seriously: First off let me say that I understand that it was common practice until fairly recently (in the grand scheme of things) for people to marry cousins. That being said, it still creeps me right out. For whatever reason I just can't put it in the context of "that was then, this is now". This is probably because I grew up being very close to my cousins. They were like my siblings so the idea of being romantically involved with one of them makes me want to heave. Jennie isn't just involved with one, but two cousins, with whom she has lived for the past several years after the deaths of her parents. This is probably the thing that bothered me most about the book. It could have been scarier: I was looking forward to a scary read and, while spooky, I wouldn't call this book scary. It really read more like an historical fiction with some ghostly elements. I would have like to have seen a bit more creepiness. Jennie's Uncle: This character really didn't add much to the story except to underline Jennie's desperate situation. I wish he would have been developed a bit more. When all is said and done, Picture the Dead is exactly what it claims to be: a spooky, romantic story with some really great twists and turns. The illustrations and the scrapbook idea only adds to the story and the overall ambiance of the tale. This is a quick, fun read that is sure to keep the reader guessing.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Jennie Lovell has suffered much tragedy in her 16 years. Her parents died, her twin brother was killed fighting in the Civil War, and now her fiancé/cousin has also fallen on the battlefield. The aunt and uncle who have taken her in-never overly warm towards her- have fallen on hard times. She doesn't know what she'll do if they put her out. Jennie's cousin Quinn seems to be harboring a secret about his brother's death, and his own wounding in combat. When the family turns to a spiritualist photographer to help calm their grief, Jennie begins to feel her fiancé is trying to send a message through the prints made. Deciphering the meaning of what she sees may just save her life. Picture the Dead, written by Adele Griffin and illustrated by Lisa Brown, intertwines the interest in spiritualism that was rampant during the American Civil War with the story of soldiers who fought in the war and the families they left behind. So many young men died in bloody conflict it's not surprising that their mothers, fathers and siblings sought to know if their loved ones found comfort on the other side. Photography had only recently been created, so it's maybe not surprising that people tied the mysteries that went on in a photographer's dark room with the mysteries of death. Readers also see the precarious position that women of the times were often in. Dependent on the men in their lives for support, their entire futures could easily be turned upside down if a husband, father or brother died. During the Civil War, many of them did. Part historical fiction, part mystery, Picture the Dead is deliciously creepy and fun to read. Jennie keeps a scrapbook, and black-and white illustrations portray the things she secretes away: newspaper clippings, photographs, lists, letters, and notes from her twin. I highly recommend this book for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 14 and up.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do someone now how to get a book gone?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It looks so strange...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Givin it 1 star cuz i never read it but it looks very interesting