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The Seer of Shadows

The Seer of Shadows - Avi 5/15/11 ** I found this book to be incredibly well crafted, with some marvelous examples of metaphoric imagery. Apprentice-photographer, Horace Carpetine, is drawn into the swindle about to be attempted by his employer, a Mr. Middleditch. Middleditch is engaged by an apparently grieving mother to make a photographic portrait to hang on her young daughter's grave; seeing an opportunity to make a larger fee, Middleditch decides to create a double image - one with both the mother and daughter in it. The remainder of the book revolves around Horace's attempt to solve the mystery of the death of the "daughter" and her apparent reappearance as a vengeful ghost.

I found a favorite pararagraph, replete with images that linked the plot of the story with photographic developing techniques, but then was blown away by all of page 69.

Gently you slide the exposed but blank glass plate into this chemical bath. You wait for something to appear as if waiting on the shore of a mist-shrouded lake.

Slowly, a shadowy image begins to reveal itself. It's as if the shadow were coming from some mystic depth, emerging from another world, little by little, taking bodily shape and form until that shadow becomes...real. Just what one would expect - would want - from a ghost.

Later in the book, as the mystery is revealed, Horace observes that the ghost of Eleanora is a "negative image" of what she'd been in life - vicious and hateful, instead of cheerful and forgiving.

I heartily recommend this book to those who like mysteries, suspense, and historical fiction. The Young Hoosier nominating committee chose another winner.