Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin

From Back Cover: Jennie feels the tingling presence of something unnatural in the house now that Will is dead. Her heart aches without him, and she still doesn't know how he really died. It seems that everywhere she turns, someone is hiding yet another clue. As Jennie seeks the truth, she finds herself drawn even deeper into a series of tricks and lies, secrets and betrayals, and begins to wonder if she had ever really known Will at all.

My Rating: 5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: When I got Adele Griffin's Picture the Dead in the mail, I couldn’t help flipping through the pages and admiring the gorgeous illustrations within. Days later, I read the book and was thrilled to find that the gothic ghost story and mystery is just as good.

The main character, Jennie, is an orphan in a precarious living situation: her twin brother Tobias and cousin/fiancĂ© Will are both dead, her uncle doesn’t really care about her, and her aunt is vile. This immediately made her a narrator I could sympathize with; but at the same time, I didn’t fully trust her because she also had a tendency to steal things (albeit for her scrapbook).

Faced with the prospect of possibly being thrown out, Jennie tries to make herself indispensable to the household by caring for her cousin Quinn (who has returned injured from the battlefield whilst fighting for the Union Army) and taking on other chores, essentially turning into a servant. In the process of nursing Quinn back to health, Jennie realizes that he’s keeping a secret about Will, and becomes determined to find out what it is since it's affecting their blossoming relationship and she's being haunted by Will’s ghost. 

I found Picture the Dead’s pacing to be perfect for enjoying Lisa Brown’s artwork, the historical background of the setting, and the mystery. Set while the Civil War is occurring and the Spiritualist movement just beginning, the story was full of twists and turns, and the way it all came together at the end was completely unexpected! Though I thought that this would be a scarier read, I had no problem that Griffin didn’t leave me wondering whether I should turn off the lights at night. I avoid horror at all costs so if you’re as big a chicken as I am but want to read a slightly spooky story, Picture the Dead is the book for you.

Utterly delightful in both content and appearance, Picture the Dead was first released in May 2010 by Sourcebooks Fire. The pretty paperback version I have was released on February 1, 2012.       

Comments About the Cover: The colours and clean, simple design of Picture the Dead will make it easily stand out in a shelf full of covers featuring girls in dresses that I wish I had. The photo of Jennie and Tobias at the front also gives you a good idea of how Brown’s illustrations look.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks Fire) for free.


  1. I've not read anything by Griffin before, but after hearing your and Small's praises her her books I better check them out. The cover of "Picture of the Dead" does look creepy. Sounds like a great read for Halloween!

  2. Why have I not read anything by Adele Griffin yet? I mean, I keep hearing how she is a genius. It feels like too long since I've read a book that features gorgeous illustrations. That, pair with the fact that this one seems to have an unexpected mystery that is engaging makes me want to pick it up. Thanks for the review, Z. I hadn't yet heard of this book before. I'm glad to know about it now.

  3. Oh Dear. I saw the hardcover edition at the bookstore so many times! I looked at the wonderful images inside and I wonder, why the hell I never bought it? Because I sux!. Nah.... probably because I never heard about it online. I usually dive into books with more buzz (see? I sux!) Cant help it! >_< I had no idea this happened during the civil war! sounds very interesing! plus the main character sounds very good too (regardless the stealing lol) =P thnx for the awesome review! Im so going to check out the paperback edition O_O! love the cover!

    About University *sigh*...Yes, Im on reading week too and I have 3 big homeworks to do T__T... so there it goes my famous "break" @___@ But we are almost done with this year my dear! let's endure! and then we'll have all freaking summer to read like MAD girls hohohohoho!!! =9. How is it going with yours? I hope you are doing AWESOME! Mine is good, not brilliant, but good. I've been super busy also. Imagine working full time and studying full time T_T...yup, that's my life now. I barely have time to read sniff!!

    take care mysweet!! muah!!!!!!!!!!

  4. This sounds like such a cool story, I love when a book leaves me surprised at how everything pieced together. I love too that there are illustrations included, it adds a whole other unique layer and I can't wait to flip through this one myself. Wonderful review Zahida!

  5. WOW! This is one of those books that make you wonder why they're kept farther back on the shelves... Picture the Dead sounds SO amazing! The fact that you gave it 5 stars is convincing enough, but I LOVE that it's about ghosts and has gorgeous illustrations in it too! Plus, thanks so much for letting me know that it's not a pure horror-for-nightmares kind of book -- as someone who gets scared easily, that's really nice to know! ;)

    Amazing review, Z! <3 I really need to pick up this book soon! :)

  6. Illustrated book!? Ooooh I love those and I already had this one on my maybe-to-read shelf! I definitely will pick it up when I get a chance!

  7. I bought this in hardback a few months ago because I'd read such amazing reviews--and now having read yours, I'm kicking myself that I haven't gotten around to reading it yet! Oh well, at least I have something to look forward to. :) So glad you enjoyed it.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  8. I've read a couple books with illustrations so I know that it can really add to the story. I don't read horror stories either but a little bit of scary I can handle so I might pick this one up.

  9. You make this sound so good! I've already had Adele's books on my tbr for awhile now, but now you're really making me want to read them! If the illustration on the cover is anything to go by, then I know I'm going to adore the illustrations!


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