It's starts as a harmless prank . . .
But soon Kate and Maggie Fox's ability to communicate with the dead is the talk of the town and neighbors are begging for the chance to hear the mysterious messages from beyond the grave. By the time the sisters regret what they're begun, it's too late to turn back.
Deception becomes a new way of life for Kate and Maggie, especially after their older sister, Leah, discovers people will pay to witness their performances. But a chance encounter with a very dashing and famous Arctic explorer turns Maggie's world upside down. He has captured her heart and vows to give Maggie a sophisticated new life full of romance, but only if she promises to leave the family business and give up spirit rapping forever. Can Maggie leave her family behind? Or will she choose to live the rest of her life trapped in a lie? (book back blurb)
I felt like a little kid listening to an astounding story being told by some wizened person recounting a rather shadowy part of their lives. While initially the page count had me a little nervous (really, how much story is there to tell, I thought?), it quickly didn't become a problem as I swallowed down gulp after gulp after gulp of this engrossing story.
It's interesting because starting off the story, I had a feeling I wasn't going to care what happened to these girls, whether they fell to ruins or not. I mean, here they are, building up a prank into the dupe of the century all because they didn't want to get scolded or have their family turned out for what they did or suffer any of the repercussions of their actions at all. But as the story goes on, and you continue to get this behind-the-scenes look at these girls lives, you can't help but ask yourself the same questions Maggie asks herself - Is she, at the end of the day, bringing much-needed comfort to the bereaved, even if it's a lie?
I didn't so much like the story from Kate's perspective. In fact I think the story would have been just fine without it but at the same time, it created this juxtaposition between the two girls - Maggie knew she was a fake; as Kate got older, she felt that she actually could commune with the dead. So is there a lie or isn't there? Or are we capable of convincing ourselves of what we want us to be?
I loved the voice of the story. It's definitely told in a rather antiquated prose type of language but it's not so littered with moth balls that it's unreadable. It only adds atmosphere to the story as a whole. It sets the tone for the mid-1800s and makes the reader feel all the more there in the story.
The love story aspect of the novel was unbearably heart-wrenching. I'll admit it. I cried at some points. It was such a tumultuous affair between Maggie and Elisha and so symbolic of life during that time that I couldn't help but feel as destroyed by Maggie's situation as she was. The harder part? This was real. I'm afraid any little tidbit about the ups and downs of this relationship would give away valuable plot secrets and this story is just too good to do that so I'll leave it for you to read. Just know that it'll rip at your heart as you read it.
And then there's the historical aspect. While some points of the novel were dramatized to suit the story, for the most part the major points were true. These two girls did found a religion and like I said, watching the magic show from behind the curtain left me in this wide-eyed awe that these people, so many people from all across the board, and so influential, could believe that what these girls were doing was true. But how fake was it? Did Kate really have some kind of ability like she felt she did? How red in the face were the followers of this Spiritualist movement when it was debunked? And what does it mean for the rest of it still going on now? Have scheisters graduated to CGI-esque effects to pull off the dupe or or is there something there to actually believe?
Not only is We Hear the Dead a great story, it makes you re-think all of the magical mystical out there. Just what's real and what isn't? What these girls did was at the same time abhorrent and amazing. And their story is hard to pull away from. I didn't want to put the book down. I just had to know what came next. And hopefully you'll feel the same way.
Thanks to the wonderful people at Sourcebooks, I have a copy of We Hear the Dead to give away to one lucky winner! Just fill in the form below to enter. Good luck!