Thursday, July 14, 2016

ARC Review: What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

What the Dead Want
Author: Norah Olson
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (July 26, 2016)

Description: Haunting photographs and dark family secrets make this second spine-tingling novel from Norah Olson the perfect read for fans of creepy, suspenseful teen fiction.

A love of photography, an old camera, and countless questions—these are all that sixteen-year-old Gretchen has left of her mother, who mysteriously disappeared years ago.

Now she must return to the place where her mom vanished—a decaying mansion that Gretchen has suddenly inherited from her great-aunt Esther. However, Gretchen won’t find the answers she’s seeking without unraveling the secrets that lurk inside the house. There are stacks of photographs and letters from her ancestors that go back centuries, pointing to some kind of haunting past. But when proof of the mansion’s dark history appears to Gretchen in the form of ghostly visions and the soft, eerie whisper of her mother’s voice, there’s no doubt that something sinister has taken place there.

No matter how scared she might be, Gretchen must somehow uncover the reasons why this indescribable force has descended upon her family and find a way to set everyone—even the dead—free.

My Thoughts: Gretchen's adventures begin when she receives a phone call from a great-aunt she doesn't remember inviting her to come visit the mansion in upstate New York that she will be inheriting. Gretchen is eager to visit, grabs her camera and takes off. But things are not what she expects. The mansion is falling to pieces but also stuffed with family history - and ghosts, lots and lots of ghosts.

Gretchen's mother who disappeared almost five years earlier was a photographer who collected sample of Victorian spirit photography. Her mother believed that the camera could sometimes see things that the naked eye cannot. Gretchen is also a photographer who shares some of her mother's beliefs.

Shortly after Gretchen arrives, her aunt commits suicide leaving her with the task of laying those many ghosts to rest. Gretchen is exploring some of the family history, particularly the diary of Fidelia who lived around the time of the Civil War and who was deeply involved in the Underground Railroad. We also learn what it was like for a woman living in the time and place with no freedom, no opportunities, and no choices. Excepts from Fidelia's journals are salted through this story. The book also has a number of photgraphs (only some of which made it to my Kindle eARC) that enhance the moody and spooky atmosphere of this story.

Aiding Gretchen in her quest are neighbors Hope and Hawk who are orphaned descendants of some of the blacks who settled in the area after escaping slavery. One of their ancestors was Fidelia's best friend. The kids are in something of a time crunch. The anniversary of a fire that destroyed a local integrated church and killed Fidelia, her friend, and Fidelia's daughter and her friend's daughter along with many of the black residents of the area is coming soon and ghostly activities are becoming more frequent and more dangerous.

This was a great story. I enjoyed this peek into a part of America's history that needs to me made more visible. As one of the characters says, "We learn history so we can break with the past, not repeat it."

Favorite Quote:
Of all the frightening things that had happened in the last two days, what terrified Gretchen the most was the idea that she was imagining all of it—that there were no little girls, no swarm of wasps, no ghosts, just an abandoned house.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I've read a couple of these photo/text supernatural books, and they're fun! Hope you will get to see all the photos when the book comes out...
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics


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