Reviews for Seer of Shadows


Booklist Reviews 2008 February #2
Horace, apprenticed to a shady photographer in New York City in 1872, is placed in an awkward position when his employer decides to take advantage of a wealthy lady who tells them that her daughter has recently died. Sent to photograph pictures of the child so that her ghostly image can be superimposed on the mother's commissioned portrait, Horace befriends a black girl who works in the lady's household. From her he learns that his employer is not the only one trying to hoodwink others. In an intriguing twist, the lad learns that he has a supernatural power that draws ghosts into his world, a power he cannot control. Avi's latest is a fast-paced, yet haunting portrayal of an upright boy trying to make his way in a world that has suddenly gone strange and dangerous. Written from the point of view of Horace as an adult, this engaging novel has great immediacy and strong narrative drive. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Fall
When fourteen-year-old Horace becomes an apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, society photographer, he joins the growing ranks of juvenile protagonists (Annie Grey from How It Happened in Peach Hill, rev. 3/07; Maud Flynn from A Drowned Maiden's Hair, rev. 11/06) engaged against their will in spiritual fleecing. When the wealthy Mrs. Von Macht asks Mr. Middleditch to take her picture so that she can place the portrait at her deceased daughter's gravesite, he decides to try some photographic sleight of hand. Mr. Middleditch plans to superimpose an image of Eleanor in the mother's portrait and instructs Horace to use a miniature camera to photograph any likenesses of the dead girl in the Von Macht home. Short chapters with tantalizing cliffhangers heighten the suspense as Horace begins to doubt the authenticity of Mrs. Von Macht's grief (as Eleanor's devoted companion Pegg suggests), and that suspense comes to a head when Horace's photographs not only capture images of Eleanor but also unleash her vengeful ghost. Set after the Civil War in New York, this dandy mystery re-creates and stays within its historical period while also introducing characters confronting timeless questions of personal honor. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #3
When fourteen-year-old Horace becomes an apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, society photographer, he joins the growing ranks of juvenile protagonists (Annie Grey from How It Happened in Peach Hill, rev. 3/07; Maud Flynn from A Drowned Maiden's Hair, rev. 11/06) engaged against their will in spiritual fleecing. When the wealthy Mrs. Von Macht asks Mr. Middleditch to take her picture so that she can place the portrait at her deceased daughter's gravesite, he decides to try some photographic sleight of hand. Mr. Middleditch plans to superimpose an image of Eleanor in the mother's portrait and instructs Horace to use a miniature camera to photograph any likenesses of the dead girl in the Von Macht home. Short chapters with tantalizing cliffhangers heighten the suspense as Horace begins to doubt the authenticity of Mrs. Von Macht's grief (as Eleanor's devoted companion Pegg suggests), and that suspense comes to a head when Horace's photographs not only capture images of Eleanor but also unleash her vengeful ghost. Set after the Civil War in New York, this dandy mystery re-creates and stays within its historical period while also introducing characters confronting timeless questions of personal honor. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2008 March #2
In 1870s New York, at the intersection of scientific advances in photography and post-Civil War superstition, sentimentality and mourning, Horace's father apprentices him to a spirit photographer. He discovers that, while his employer is a swindler, Horace himself is a "seer" on whose photographs genuine ghostly images appear. In this way, he discovers the ghost of a young heiress whose ill treatment at the hands of her adoptive parents has led to her death. When her angry spirit returns seeking revenge, Horace tries to put her ghost to rest and save lives. Avi portrays a complex main character who is torn between his impulse toward honesty and rational thought, his love of the new technology of photography and his need for employment. This tale proves that the time-honored ghost story, capably researched, well-paced and fusing the Gothic elements of mystery, madness and romance, can still thrill in the hands of a skilled craftsman. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 April #2

Newbery Medalist Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead ) sets this intriguing ghost story in 19th-century New York City, where a photographer's apprentice has a horrifying run-in with a spirit bent on revenge. In the fall of 1872, 14-year-old narrator Horace Carpetine reluctantly becomes involved in his employer's scheme to dupe a superstitious client, wealthy Mrs. Von Macht. The plan is to make a tidy profit by producing a double exposure and offering her an unusual portrait, one incorporating a superimposed image of her dead daughter, Eleanora. Events depart from the expected when the ghost of Eleanora literally enters the picture, and Horace discovers his ability to capture departed souls on film. Suspense builds as the Von Machts' servant, Pegg, reveals secrets about the Von Macht family and explains that Eleanor's angry spirit, brought back into the world through the camera lens, may want revenge on both Mrs. Von Macht and her husband. Mirroring both the style and themes of gothic novels of the period, the story takes ghastly and ghostly turns that challenge Horace's belief in reason. Details about photographic processes add authenticity, while the book's somber ending will leave spines tingling. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

[Page 55]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 February

Gr 4-6-- It's 1872, and 14-year-old Horace Carpetine is not pleased. Apprenticed to a photographer in New York City, he finds out that his boss has decided to cash in on the idea of being a "spirit photographer" who can capture the images of ghosts. Unfortunately, Horace soon learns that the ghost that they are trying to fake into their photos is all too real and that somehow his own foray into the world of photography has released her. Now the boy who was always taught to regard otherworldly events with skepticism must deal with a spirit intent not just on coming back, but on murder and revenge as well. The otherworldliness of photography is superbly rendered in this first-rate piece of historical fantasy. Without ever moving too fast or pushing the understated horror of this tale, Avi successfully draws out the suspense without sacrificing character, plot, or tone. This is a perfect companion to Mary Downing Hahn's Wait Till Helen Comes (Clarion, 1986) and an ideal recommendation for any child hoping for a ghost story that is both frightening and hauntingly mysterious.--Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library

[Page 111]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
VOYA Reviews 2008 August
Articulate, literate, and numerate, fourteen-year-old Horace is touted as "a model youth for the industrial age" by his philosophical, abolitionist, and radical-Republican father whose children are named for political and social icons of the time. A watch repairman who believes in science and rational thought, Horace's father arranges his youngest son's apprenticeship during post-Civil War New York City in a scientific endeavor with Enoch Middleditch, self-proclaimed society photographer, whose excellent teaching is offset by his laziness and struggling business. Middleditch turns on flattery and charm and eagerly defrauds patrons for financial gain. Unwillingly Horace becomes entangled in a fraudulent scheme to present a rich woman with photographic "evidence" that her daughter's ghost lingers nearby. Youthful honesty contrasted against adults' deceptive flatteries builds reader empathy for narrator Horace's position when Middleditch's hoax paired with Horace's heretofore-unknown photographic sensitivity unintentionally unleash an angry ghost upon the Von Macht household. Horace's resourcefulness and his new friendship with the Von Macht's black servant Pegg are key to solving this suspenseful drama. Avi's rich language evokes images and speech patterns of a bygone era, and his careful chronicling of early photography's art and science make this novel a pleasure to read. Strong male and female teen characters appeal to a broad readership from science fiction, suspense, and ghost story aficionados to photography and history buffs. The refined vocabulary will not deter reluctant readers.-Cynthia Winfield PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-000016-5. 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.

----------------------