The Seer of Shadows

The Seer of Shadows

by Avi


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060000172
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/15/2009
Pages: 202
Sales rank: 277,151
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Avi is the award-winning author of more than seventy-five books for young readers, ranging from animal fantasy to gripping historical fiction, picture books to young adult novels. Crispin: The Cross of Lead won the Newbery Medal, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth were awarded Newbery Honors. He is also the author of the popular Poppy series. Avi lives outside Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at

Date of Birth:

December 23, 1937

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

Read an Excerpt

The Seer of Shadows

Chapter One

It was an October morning in the year 1872, and New York City's air was so befogged with white mist and dark smoke that I could barely see across the street. All the same I was attending to my daily chore of sweeping our small front court with its painted sign:

Enoch Middleditch
Society Photographer

Chancing to look up, I was startled to see a black girl standing just beyond our low iron gate. It was as if she had just stepped out of the haze, dressed in her somber cotton servant's garb. A tiny wisp of curly black hair poked out from beneath her white cap. Though clearly she was a servant, her posture was upright, quite proud, and not at all deferential. I judged her to be about the same age as I, fourteen; but her smooth face, round and dark, seemed devoid of emotion until I noticed her eyes: They were full of a deep and brooding intensity.

My first thought was that she was looking at me, but then I realized it was our sign that held her attention.

"May I help you?" I asked.

She turned her gaze upon me. "Who are you?"

The question, asked so bluntly, was unexpected. "I'm Mr. Middleditch's apprentice."

"Does he make portraits?"

"Portraits, cartes de visite, and studies."

"My mistress, Mrs. Frederick Von Macht, requires a portrait."

"Then you've come to the right place."

"Good," said the girl. "She will be at your door tomorrow, at two."

Though surprised by her presumption, I said, "I'll tell my employer," perfectly aware that Mr. Middleditch had no pressingmatters to attend to. Business was anything but lively.

With a curt nod the girl turned and walked away, vanishing into the mist as eerily as she had appeared.

Not only did I wonder where she'd come from and gone to, I was uncertain whether to believe her or not. But knowing it would be a good thing if her mistress did come for a sitting, I put aside such questions and hurried into our rooms to inform Mr. Middleditch that he actually had a customer.

Still, there was something very unsettling about the girl, so much so that I could not get her out of my mind. Was it the way she'd suddenly appeared and disappeared into the mist? Was it the tone of her voice? Was it the brooding look in her eyes?

That said, I shall be the first to admit there was nothing about her appearance to foretell the extraordinary events that were to follow.

The Seer of Shadows. Copyright © by Avi. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Seer Of Shadows (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seer of Shadows is a great had a lot of details in it which helped me imagin the whole book. Horace and Pegg where great characters. Avi really did do a great job creating the voice of Pegg. Mrs.Von macht was a horibble character in the book. Poor elenora had to suffer so much threw out her life. good thing Pegg was always there for her. this book was very suspenceful, at some pionts of the book a even got the chills. elenoras return was very powerful with hate, but all she wanted was revenge. Horace was very confused and frightened when he saw a picture he didnt take. avi really out did himself with this book it was amazing.
Rawr99 More than 1 year ago
First you ask yourself, could you be a seer? When Horace took his very first photograph, something was odd. There was something lurking over Mrs. Von Match's shoulder, what could it be? When I showed Pegg, she had said it was the ghost of Elenora Von Match to seek revenge. Mrs. Von Match had said it was a tragedy, and she misses Elenora so much, or does she? Pegg was the servant of the Von Match's and she would to help Horace unravel the mystery of Elenora's death, and why she came back to haunt the Von Match's. I enjoyed this book; it was probably one of the best books I had ever read. I just couldn't put it down, it was so suspenseful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a amazing if you ghost story's you'll love this!!!!!!!!!!!
smheatherly2 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was an interesting read, although Avi became very technical about the photography processes, it only made the novel come more alive due to all the research. Part historical fiction, part suspense, part mystery this was a novel that makes you think not only about the afterlife but also about social classes. Horace is a boy living in 1872 and finds that he has an unusual ability that will take him on a mystery that he must fight before the cops figure it out!
Golijanin on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The story is set in 19th century New York. The fourteen year old Horace Carpentine is a quick learner, initiated into science by his father, who also finds a photographer willing to take Horace as a helper. At the time a photographer needed to posses the knowledge of mechanics, physics, and chemistry. Mr. Middleditch, a ¿society¿ photographer is lazy by nature but still a good teacher to Horace who moved to live with him. Everything started one day when a wealthy customer, Mrs. Von Macht and her servant girl walked into their shop. She requested photographs of a portrait and offered them to set up a temporary studio in her house. Mrs. Von Macht says that she would like to put the picture on her daughter¿s grave. The servant girl gives Horace signs that she disagree with Mrs. Von Macht¿s story. Pagg, the servant girl becomes close friends with Horace helping him discover the truth about Eleaonora¿s cruel destiny and his unusual gift. His photographs capture the pictures of ghosts and bring them back into the world.
JaWi0129 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The is probably my favorite book. The story had a scary feel to it without making you want to just stop reading the book and I felt that the ending was a bit of a suprise.
RoppPop on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This story of the year of 1872 and in New York city is an interesting yet mystery type of book. It deals with a young man learning to photograph in the apprentice job for an older gentleman in the city. The plot of this book brings about a death in a family and the step mother wanting to "find" her daughter even though she is dead. The friendship of the family's servant girl, and the finding out that a "seer of shadows" is the young man himself, scares them all but tells the reader that the truth needs to be found out properly. The "seer" means "a person who sees visions." To physically see the daughter who has been dead for some years - staring at you and running across the cemetary makes the young man wonder why it is him who sees it. Each page on this book brings a wonder of what will happen next. It also allows the reader to wonder how I would feel if it is me who sees this ghost. The writer knows how to hide this mystic characters behind a curtain or driving a horse ridden cab. The mixed up feelings allow the reader to experience a new type or style of emotions that they never have felt before.
crochetbunnii on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Seer of Shadows was an interesting read about Horace Carpetine, a photographer's apprentice in the 1870s. Horace was raised to believe in science and reason, but when his master decides he can make a quick buck off exploiting a rich woman into thinking her daughter's ghost is appearing in photographs, it's left to Horace to create the fake images. Unfortunately for Horace, he's a seer of shadows and unwittingly captures the daughter's spirit, releasing her to exact revenge on her murderers.This was an interesting read, full of description of early photography processes. The end did get a little intense, but overall, a great read.
mysteriesrme on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Horace Carpentine is a young apprentice to the crafty but slippery Mr. Middleditch in 1872. Business is slow and uninteresting until a serious servant girl stands beneath the Middleditch sign and enquires of Horace if the photographer can provide a portrait for her society lady employer. What ensues is Avi's mastery in building suspense with each chapter. The society lady, Mrs. Von Macht, wants a portrait of herself to give solace to her beloved, dead daughter, Eleanora. Mrs. Von Macht explains that portraits of her dearly departed daughter abound around the home and give her great comfort. Why not make a portrait of Mrs. Von Macht to place on Eleanora's grave so the departed girl will also find comfort.With that request, Middleditch sets out to make a name for himself. He tells Horace to use the spy camera to take pictures of the dead daughter and then the photograph of Eleanora will be superimposed on the portrait of Mrs. Von Macht. But not all is as it seems: there are hardly any photographs of Eleanora as Mrs. Von Macht describes. Horace forges an alliance with the servant girl with dark brooding eyes. She explains that there are not as many photographs of the dead daughter and that Eleanora's death is not how Mrs. Von Macht describes.Avi employs simple but elegant language to convey a gripping story. I could not put it down.
beckylynn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Good ol' ghost story. Students will enjoy this just because there's an element of eeriness in it. Avi did a wonderful job with the characters and the story line. This was my first Twain read aloud for the 10-11 school year and I thought this would win, until I read Kehret's Stolen Children. My students really seem to enjoy this book.
Librarylili on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I pick up THE SEER OF SHADOWS because Halloween is just around the corner. But after reading the book, I find it is really a good one to recommend. Set in New York in 1872, a young boy called Horace Carpetine is serving as a photographer Enoch Middleditch¿s apprentice. A rich woman Mrs. Von Macht in mourning arrives at the studio to request a portrait of herself to place on her dead 13-year-old-daughter Eleanora's grave. Middleditch is excited to make money through the clever deception of Mrs. Von Macht and plans to superimpose a photo of Eleanora onto the portrait of Mrs. Von Macht, thereby startling her into an emotional buying spree for more photos.But the photos have called forth more than memory; they have actually called forth the ghost of Eleanora, who is set on deathly revenge. With the help of Pegg, the Von Macht's servant girl, Horace learns the truth that Eleanora, the dead girl, died due to neglect. Eleanora was the woman's niece, and she was heir to a huge fortune when her parents died at age 11, which was why her adoptive parents neglected her - to inherit her money. Meanwhile, Horace also realizes his supernatural abilities to help unleash the angry ghost.The novel is a richly detailed page-tuner, filled with elegant language. The strong themes of equality, friendship, and fairness are built around a well-developed plot. The youthful characters of Pegg and Horace are unique and believable. Both of them are bold and kind. The time and place feel real. Creepy atmosphere and fast pacing of the story are easy to grab readers¿ attention. The historical details are so well researched and the process of early photography is so lovingly detailed. Suspense goes through the whole story. I felt myself going back and forth with the plot trying to guess what was going to happen next. Although the story is for young readers, I still enjoy it very much.
zenobia158 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Likable characters, but a slow developing story and flimsy character logic mar the storytelling. Interesting enough to read, and finish (especially because the page count is just over 200), but not worthy of the Mark Twain award.
Finleyup1 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A great ending can save a bad book. An average to good ending cannot. That is what you get in The Seer of Shadows. The ending was decent, not great, and simply wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the book. The writing was repetitive and tiresome. I would pass on this one. There are too many other good books out there to spend your time reading.
skstiles612 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Product DescriptionHorace Carpetine does not believe in ghosts.Raised to believe in science and reason, Horace Carpetine passes off spirits as superstition. Then he becomes an apprentice photographer and discovers an eerie¿and even dangerous¿supernatural power in his very own photographs.When a wealthy lady orders a portrait to place by her daughter's gravesite, Horace's employer, Enoch Middleditch, schemes to sell her more pictures¿by convincing her that her daughter's ghost has appeared in the ones he's already taken. It's Horace's job to create images of the girl. Yet Horace somehow captures the girl's spirit along with her likeness. And when the spirit escapes the photographs, Horace discovers he's released a ghost bent on a deadly revenge. . . .I can think of at least 5 students who would absolutely love this book. Anyone who love ghost stories will love this one. I loved the idea that the adults in the story were responsible for the problems and it was the teens in the story who suffered the consequences of the adult¿s decisions and it was also the teens who had to solve it. The suspense began on page one and continue to the last page. Once again Avi has created a masterpiece.
kikione on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A young boy is working as a photographer's apprentice. He finds himself an unwilling accomplice in a ruse to trick clients into believing that they are getting photos of the client's dead loved ones. In their first case this young apprentice quickly realizes that their trickery isn't the only ghostly images they are capturing. He befriends a young girl at the client's house and they work together to uncover the truth.
59Square on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Horace is an apprentice photographer in 19th century New York. A servant brings her mistress to Horace's master for a photograph to supposedly comfort her dead daughter who is "restless". The true story is much more complicated than that, including that the daughter is her niece, who they have neglected and then taken her wealth to help themselves. Horace's master sees that he can take advantage of her supposed grief, and decides to make a spirit image with the daughter's photo embedded in it. This is truly a ghost story, as Horace's photographs begin to bring the dead daughter back to life. There is also a budding friendship between the only two people who really know what is going on - Horace, who is white, and Pegg, the servant, who is black. Their friendship eventually turns into something more, although that it is only at the end of the novel. This is historical fiction, as it describes 19th century New York. However, even with the explanation that Pegg was raised by free blacks, and Horace raised in a "rational" family, I still think it is unrealistic for Horace and Pegg to end up married just after the Civil War. There is also very little explanation of white/black relations at this time. This is a scary story, as Pegg and Horace fight against the ghost of Eleanora, and I think that's where the emphasis is - the historical part of it is mainly background. I never have been a huge Avi fan, or a huge historical fiction fan, so I just think it's sort of okay.
anniecase on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Another classic from Avi in the tradition of Charlotte Doyle. The creepiness pervades the atmosphere and continually drives towards its satisfying conclusion. A truly enjoyable read for children and a great history lesson to top it off!
thioviolight on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I found this a good, quick-paced ghost story for young adults. Worth checking out.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The prolific Avi has a winner in Seer of Shadows, historical fiction with a decidedly eerie and menacing twist. Horace Carpetine, raised to believe in science and rationalism, has been apprenticed to a photographer in post-Civil War, New York City. When his unscrupulous employer decides to perpetrate a hoax on a grieving mother, a tangled tale of death, deception, abuse and the supernatural "develops," literally, on the glass plates of the photographer's camera.Horace befriends Pegg, a black servant girl from the deceased's household, and together they confront the inconceivable. The Seer of Shadows is a gripping tale with a strong historical base and the supernatural eeriness of Gaiman's Coraline.
readingthruthenight on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Horace Carpetine is a young lad in the 1800's and beginning an apprenticeship with Enoch Middleditch, a conspiring photographer. Shortly after Horace begins working with Enoch, a very wealthy woman asks for her portrait to be taken so she could place it on her dead daughters tombstone. Mrs. Von Macht tells Enoch that she believes her deceased daughter is restless and hopes that this photograph might calm her.Well, Enoch is of course an entrepreneur. And a scheming one at that. He puts Horace in charge of making sure Mrs. Von Macht's daughter in seen in the photograph.Wait. Did you get that?Enoch tells Horace that he must create the dead girl's spirit in the photo that is given to Mrs. Von Macht. Pretty messed up huh? Of course, Horace is a good kid, and he doesn't feel so good about this endeavor, but needs this apprenticeship so he doe what he is told. Unfortunately there really is a miserable ghost girl present who shows herself and she's even more upset that all of this conniving has been going on in her name. This is such a fun tween ghost story set in historical times. I love the amount of detail that Avi pays in the photography process. I have to admit there were a couple of paragraphs where I'm struggled even. My science is just not up to par and I have a terrible time picturing certain elements of the process. But, it definitely works here. Avi makes the story feel authentic.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A ghost story that is a little more scary than I would have expected. A boy apprentice finds that he can capture ghosts in his photographs and finds one particularly angry ghost girl who is out for revenge. With the help of the servant girl in the family she seeks revenge on, the boy tries to stop what could be murder.
airdna on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is about a boy who discovers he has the ability to photograph ghosts. It's 1872, and 14-year-old Horace is apprenticed to a photographer. When a wealthy woman hires the photographer to take her portrait, and mentions that her daughter Eleanora has just died, the photographer decides to trick her into believing he can capture an image of Eleanora's ghost. But it turns out that not only can Horace really make Eleanora's ghostly image appear in a photo, but doing so brings her spirit back from the dead....and now she's looking for revenge.....
ohioyalibrarian on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a haunting tale about a boy who discovers that he can bring ghosts out in the open by photographing them. One particular ghost that he photographs has plans for deadly revenge. Can he undo what he's done before it's too late? This is an excellent book, but a word of caution pertains...the ghost is quite scary and reeks of evil.
jen.redmini on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Horace has been sent to work with Mr. Middleditch as an apprentice. What luck Mr. Middleditch is having. A grieving mother would like a picture taken and she is willing to pay any price. Mr. Middleditch figures if he adds in the ghostly image of her daughter his business will flourish. this a cruel trick or is the ghost of Eleanora really there.
elliottm on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I tend to like many, not all of Avi's books, but this one was great. It was very spooky and suspenseful.