Book Review: We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni

We Hear the Dead
Dianne K. Salerni

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is a very readable and interesting recounting of Maggie, Kate and Leah Fox, three sisters who claimed to be able to communicate with the dead.

I had never heard of the Fox sisters and their influence on American thinking in the 1850s. I did not know that the Fox sisters were responsible for launching the popular Spiritualism movement.

I thought Dianne Salerni did a great job showing how many people during that time period longed to reach out to their departed loved ones and how many influential members of the community believed in or supported the Fox sisters, including Amy and Isaac Post, who were part of the Underground Railroad, and President Franklin Pierce’s wife, who was desperate to communicate with their lost son. Salerni also gives the reader a good look at life in the mid 1800s, with her use of language, references to women’s rights, slavery and the abolitionists, Quakers, explorers and forward thinkers. She also shows the hard impact diseases such as consumption, rheumatic fever and cholera had on the population.

Equally interesting was Maggie’s relationship with explorer Dr. Elisha Kane and his efforts to pull Maggie away from spiritual “rapping.” I also liked reading about Kane’s arctic explorations and the dangers that went with trying to map out unknown areas of the world.

Small Spoilers:

Some of my favorite parts include all the referenced tricks the Fox sisters and others used, particularly the candles, and the way the Posts help Maggie and Leah escape danger in their wagon.

This would be a great book for a middle school syllabus.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

4 thoughts on “Book Review: We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni

  1. Reblogged this on Book Club Mom and commented:

    From the archives. I’m celebrating 5 years of blogging this summer! I was still figuring out how to blog about books when I wrote this review of We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni. I’m reblogging it because I thought the book was excellent. I knew very little about the Spiritualism movement (communicating with the dead) and all the historical figures who believed in the Fox sisters. Take a look – it’s a great middle school read but totally great for all readers!

    1. The author is from my area – she used to be a middle school English teacher. She also has a series called The Eighth Day which I think is really great. Another book is The Caged Graves – probably my favorite of hers! Thanks for stopping by, Jan.

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