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Picture the Dead    by Adele Griffin & Lisa Brown order for
Picture the Dead
by Adele Griffin
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2010 (2010)

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Adele Griffin's Picture the Dead is a creepy gothic mystery, made more so through Lisa Brown's illustrations based on actual pictures from the time. Set against the Civil War, Picture the Dead is a tale of love, betrayal, and ghosts.

Orphaned at a young age, Jennie Lovell and her twin brother Toby are sent to live with their distant Aunt Clara and Uncle Henry Pritchett, who have two young boys of their own, Will and Quinn. As the children grow, Jennie and Will fall in love and are engaged to be married when war breaks out. All three boys join the Union army, but Quinn is the only one to return.

Through a series of clues left by strange markings on phony spirit photographs, Jennie comes to find out that war had changed Will drastically. Frightened of what her ex-fiancé became, Jennie seeks comfort in Quinn but Will's ghost continues to torment her.

Picture the Dead has all of the makings of a good gothic tale: a strong young lady out of place in the house she lives in; a mysterious, brooding, handsome man; and a ghostly mystery. Its rather creepy drawings heighten the mood, especially when you imagine them as photographs of the time. The mystery takes a little bit to develop – like the photographs back then – but when it does, it is exciting and spectacular and will have you racing along with Jennie to discover the truth.

Both Adele Griffin in her writing, and Lisa Brown in her illustrations have captured the mood of the North during the Civil War. Picture the Dead makes for not only a good story but a history lesson on a changing world. Both fans of gothic mysteries and the Civil War will find something to enjoy in Picture the Dead.

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