Paul Elwork’s debut novel is loosely based on the Fox sisters, three late 19th-century women who contributed to the beginning of the spiritualism movement. Here the hoax is perpetrated by two young teenagers who, like the Fox sisters, use rappings to fool their “clients” into believing in communications from the dead.
A spooky novel of secrets, lies, and obsession tailor-made for teen readers.
ELWORK, Paul. The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead. 320p. Einhorn. 2011. Tr $24.95. ISBN 978-0-399-15717-2. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Thirteen year-old Emily discovers that she has the remarkable ability to produce a cracking sound by moving the inner bones of her foot. She practices this maneuver until she is able to make a range of sounds without visibly moving. Naturally, she demonstrates this talent to her twin brother, Michael, by trying to frighten him with unexplained knockings in the dark. Soon Emily is playing at spirit communication with groups of children, then adults, and finally a man obsessed with his deceased son. The story begins in 1925, when the twins are living with their mysterious mother in an old family mansion. The family has generations of secrets and tragedies that are incrementally revealed through chapters set in the past, as well as through eavesdropped conversations and a bit of snooping on Emily’s part. There are quite a few tantalizingly scandalous subplots. Fans of gothic mysteries will enjoy unraveling the strands of story through time, although some astute readers might find a few loose ends still dangling at the novel’s conclusion. Recommend to readers who enjoy psychological ghost stories such as those by Lois Duncan and Margaret Peterson Haddix.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL