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The Girl Who Would Speak for the DeadThis is not a ghost story it s about lies and the living Reviewed by Heather StoneAuthor Paul ElworkPublisher Murdoch BooksPublished April 2011Price AU 29.99Format Paperback 310 ppCategory FictionCan you, or do you know anyone who can crack their knuckles, or perhaps their toes I could once crack my big toe joints quite loudly This question is relevant just in case you were expecting a good gothic horror, or a spiritualistic drama The story is no The Girl Who Would Speak for the DeadThis is not a ghost story it s about lies and the living Reviewed by Heather StoneAuthor Paul ElworkPublisher Murdoch BooksPublished April 2011Price AU 29.99Format Paperback 310 ppCategory FictionCan you, or do you know anyone who can crack their knuckles, or perhaps their toes I could once crack my big toe joints quite loudly This question is relevant just in case you were expecting a good gothic horror, or a spiritualistic drama The story is not really about materialisation of the spirits of the dead at all It is about lies and the living, and the lengths to which ordinary people will go to suspend disbelief in an attempt to assuage grief.Paul Elwork, in his first full length novel, has taken as his inspiration, the real life and rather fascinating story of the three Fox sisters of Arcadia NY in the 1800s who became renowned spiritualists, strongly responsible for the growth of spiritualism across the States, until the shocking confession by one sister, Margaret, that two of the girls had been faking ghosts since ages 8 and 12 respectively followed by full scale fraud under the direction of their older sister for many years Their story, well summarised on Wikipedia, is quite fascinating What a scandal it must have been in its day.In Paul Elwork s book, the principal characters are twins, Paul and Emily It is the school holiday period during the summer of 1925 Emily has just had her 13th birthday and discovered that she can crack an ankle joint with a knocking sound without visible movement Having first successfully fooled her twin, the game grows from their first dual practice effort on a vulnerable child to running s ances for all the neighbourhood children creating dramatic histories for fictional ghosts As the word spreads, the game becomes farserious as it escalates into provision of a focal point for grieving adults, so shortly after the conclusion of World War 1, who are wholly convinced of the children s authenticity.Paul is pragmatic with an eye on the main chance, but Emily, muchempathic, researches family histories, photos and memorabilia uncovering the bones of the past so to speak At the same time that she is putting her newfound knowledge to good effect in the spirit rapping s ances, she is also becoming immersed in the dramas and characters of the past, and in their inter relationship with the present There are times when she almost convinces herself that the spirits she manufactures are real and that she is bringing contact and real comfort to the living, but unfortunately, or otherwise, her only true ghostly encounters are the goblins she sees in her dreams.Elwork, through a series of flashback chapters, tells us the sad history of the wealthy Stewart family between 1872 and 1925 and up until the death of the children s father, a medic in World War 1 He links these to the survivors and the townspeople and demonstrates vividly how deep grief never loses its need for closure I doubt there are any of us who cannot empathise with this Tragedy is predestined and inevitable from the beginning of the book, and nobody emerges from the experience as quite the same person.The book itself is a gentle and bittersweet read, told from Emily s viewpoint that lures you into the situation and relies heavily on its excellent characterisation Within the simple storyline many smaller vignettes are encapsulated, some resolved satisfactorily and others, somewhat annoyingly, with threads left blowing in the breeze The author grew up with a strong interest in horror stories and fantasy and was an early reader of Lord of the Rings and Stephen King, but stopped believing in ghosts himself by around 15 years of age This intricate story is less about ghosts andabout how ultimately destructive lies can be, even when apparently meant to be doing good It holds the reader through to the end although it left me with a feeling of melancholy when I finally laid it down I heard about this book through the FirstReads giveaways awhile back and put it on my to read list The title is great, the story sounded interesting, and now that I finally checked it out of the library to read well, it was a little disappointing.Emily and Michael are 13 year old twins after Emily discovers she can make a strange noise with her ankle, they decide to capitalize on this talent and put on shows in which they supposedly communicate with the dead, her invisible ankle trick the m I heard about this book through the FirstReads giveaways awhile back and put it on my to read list The title is great, the story sounded interesting, and now that I finally checked it out of the library to read well, it was a little disappointing.Emily and Michael are 13 year old twins after Emily discovers she can make a strange noise with her ankle, they decide to capitalize on this talent and put on shows in which they supposedly communicate with the dead, her invisible ankle trick the method of communication Soon, adults in the area hear about Emily s talent and begin to ask her to communicate with their loved ones who died in WWI Emily obliges and thinks she s giving them some closure they wouldn t get otherwise but begins to feel guilty about the trick she s playing on them Also interspersed with this main plot is a side one in which secrets from their family tree begin to be revealed, some told through flashbacks and other through Emily s snooping and questioning.It took me at least a quarter of the book to get into the story before that, it all felt like very slow paced backstory I debated a few times whether or not I should even finish this, ultimately making my way through the entire thing I think the main problem, for me, is that while the writing is fine, the pace is super slow This does, admittedly, reflect the pace of the life around them and how bored the twins are with the summer, but it doesn t exactly make for the most captivating read Everything unfolded so slowly that it often felt as if nothing was happening and what was happening did not completely capture my interest because of this Also, I didn t find the characters particularly engaging The most well rounded character was their neighbor, who isn t in a whole lot of the book, but he was farinteresting than any of the main characters I think I enjoyed the premise a lotthan the actual book My imagination did not take off and I was only marginally interested in the subplot about their ancestors The flashbacks featuring their ancestors felt like a completely separate plot from the main one and took me out of the story even further not exactly a good thing, considering how I was never fully into the main plot in the first place I finished the book and basically thought, Well, I m done with that Overall meh First thoughts after finishing this book Hmmm.that was interesting and creepy.What I liked about the book the author really created a sinister, dark atmosphere So if you re looking for that type of read this one is it I couldn t decide if I liked Michael or not Part of me kept thinking he was an evil, twisted child Emily she was born a wise, old soul It was interesting to watch how she internalized and really thought about how her so called spiritual readings were affecting the peop First thoughts after finishing this book Hmmm.that was interesting and creepy.What I liked about the book the author really created a sinister, dark atmosphere So if you re looking for that type of read this one is it I couldn t decide if I liked Michael or not Part of me kept thinking he was an evil, twisted child Emily she was born a wise, old soul It was interesting to watch how she internalized and really thought about how her so called spiritual readings were affecting the people that were involved She s a very sensitive and inquisitive child and one that I grew attached to while reading the story The main thread of grief that was woven throughout the story and how people go through that process differently and how the thought of contacting your loved one will make you believe in just about anything What I didn t like the story started out a bit slow for me, but I never wanted to jump ship Personal thoughts After my mom s mother passed away, my mom was obsessed with contacting her through some sort of medium No one in the family would really talk to her about it except for me I wasthan willing to take my mom to see John Edward, but she never did get the courage up to buy the tickets I m sure plenty of people told her that it was all fake and what not, but much like the characters in this story, my mom NEEDED closure and ACHED for just oneminute with her beloved mother I wanted that for herthan anythingeven if it came from a charlatan Recommend This book has me sitting on the fence a bit because you sort of have to be in the right mood for this one It s a well written story and that s what kept me turning the pages I stayed connected to Emily and it was my need to know how her story turned out that worked for me If you re a fan of Amy Einhorn books then you will indeed enjoy this one I think she publishes quality stories and this one is no exception I bought this book years ago at a library book sale, intrigued by the title I have always loved a good ghost story I finally got around to reading it for a challenge category the lowest rating in my to read pile, 2.86 overall stars It was less of a ghost story than I d hoped, andabout the spiritual obsession in the early 20th century, specifically spirit knocking and contacting the dead However, I was drawn into the story of the twins, their mother, and some residents of the town Th I bought this book years ago at a library book sale, intrigued by the title I have always loved a good ghost story I finally got around to reading it for a challenge category the lowest rating in my to read pile, 2.86 overall stars It was less of a ghost story than I d hoped, andabout the spiritual obsession in the early 20th century, specifically spirit knocking and contacting the dead However, I was drawn into the story of the twins, their mother, and some residents of the town The troubled past at Ravenwood was also revealed through flashback chapters and a few letters I actually enjoyed this and gave it 4 stars One day in 1925, 13 year old Emily Stewart discovers that she has an unusual ability she can secretly crack a joint in her ankle that sounds like a mysterious knocking sound Emily and her twin brother Michael decide to put on little performances for the neighborhood children and convince them that these spirit knockings are coming from a teenage girl who drowned nearby several years before Word of these spirit knockings spreads and soon adults wanting to connect with dead loved ones of the One day in 1925, 13 year old Emily Stewart discovers that she has an unusual ability she can secretly crack a joint in her ankle that sounds like a mysterious knocking sound Emily and her twin brother Michael decide to put on little performances for the neighborhood children and convince them that these spirit knockings are coming from a teenage girl who drowned nearby several years before Word of these spirit knockings spreads and soon adults wanting to connect with dead loved ones of their own are asking for sessions with Emily and Michael The twins agree and soon they are in over their heads trying to help adults deal with real grief issues, guilt and family secrets.At the same Emily and Michael are conducting the spirit knocking sessions and discovering the family secrets of some of the adults in town, Emily is discovering that her own family harbors secrets in its past as well by secretly reading a scrapbook her mother has put together and by talking to her nanny who was Emily s mother s nanny as well The book flashes back to these earlier time periods in Emily s family history as she is learning about them.This book isthan just a creepy ghost story It s about lies the lies we tell ourselves, the lies we tell others and whether or not it s ever okay to deceive someone And it s about grief and guilt and how those two emotions are intertwined and at times inseparable This book had so many layers and was really well written It s another fantastic offering from Amy Einhorn books I really liked it and highly recommend it The cover of THE GIRL WHO WOULD SPEAK FOR THE DEAD promises a creepy, atmospheric, perhaps Gothic tale It conjures up seances, spectral sightings, restless spirits all those delicious things that a tale of the supernatural promises.Until you realize that this is not a supernatural book at all Rather, it is a slow moving, not very interesting book about 13 year old twins, Emily and Michael Emily discovers a talent for cracking her ankle bone in a way that makes it difficult to detect the sou The cover of THE GIRL WHO WOULD SPEAK FOR THE DEAD promises a creepy, atmospheric, perhaps Gothic tale It conjures up seances, spectral sightings, restless spirits all those delicious things that a tale of the supernatural promises.Until you realize that this is not a supernatural book at all Rather, it is a slow moving, not very interesting book about 13 year old twins, Emily and Michael Emily discovers a talent for cracking her ankle bone in a way that makes it difficult to detect the source of the sound She and her brother set up a hoax among their friends that Emily is able to speak to the dead, including their dead ancestor who drowned tragically Before you know it, word gets out and Emily is summoned by adults who are desperate to reach out to dead loved ones Emily s trick is fairly simple the marks ask the dead a question, and Emily cracks her ankle once for No, twice for Yes.Meanwhile, the book goes back and forward in time, exploring the house s history and the family that built it nothing too spectacularly interesting, there and the twins mother s interesting relationship with a man who was once the close friend of their dead father, a doctor who died in World War I.This book s heart is in the right place while one of the twin s motives is somewhat opaque, the other uses her power to try to help people in their grief, until her conscience won t allow her to trick people any longer This leads to somewhat disastrous consequences in the book s contrived denouement There is an interesting subplot about a professional charlatan who is trying to bring Emily under his wing it s creepily unclear what his motive is , but not much is done with that Overall, though, I left the book with the sense, Oh, this is LITERARY FICTION, where nothing interesting happens, but there are lots and lots of pages of description and subtleties Overall, I can t really recommend it, but it may be a good read for people who like to read about adolescents and their behaviors.If the book had been about the twins mother, Naomi by far the most interesting character in the book it would have been much better I really liked the concept for The Girl Who Would Speak For The Dead , and I enjoyed the era in which it was set While mainly taking place in 1925, the novel did backtrack a bit to include stories from the early 1900 s and well as the late 1890s I did not however, enjoy Paul Elwork s novel as much as I thought I would After all the hype that surrounded the book on it s release I was excited to see how the novel would turn out, but I was quite disappointed The ending I found extremely unfini I really liked the concept for The Girl Who Would Speak For The Dead , and I enjoyed the era in which it was set While mainly taking place in 1925, the novel did backtrack a bit to include stories from the early 1900 s and well as the late 1890s I did not however, enjoy Paul Elwork s novel as much as I thought I would After all the hype that surrounded the book on it s release I was excited to see how the novel would turn out, but I was quite disappointed The ending I found extremely unfinished, and I was left asking questions about all sorts of events and characters The main character Emily is quite likeable, and fortunately so are the other main characters her twin brother Michael, their mother and their housekeeper I didn t feel the story went anywhere in the end, I was waiting for something to happen, perhaps Emily and Michael would stumble upon some supernatural activity while playing their game, spirit knocking , but nothing happened While I liked that every so often the novel changed to a different era, and another generation of the family to hear a different story, it did get confusing keeping up with all the characters in Emily and Michael s family their grandfather, grandmother, great grandfather, great great grandfather etc I like Paul Elwork s style, and I found the writing lovely to read, but I really disliked that the story didn t really go anywhere Like the titular edifice, The Tea House is a bit of a mystery, a solid debut by Paul Elwork which, in some respects, defies description or categorization It is a novel that goes down easily, with evocative prose and an unparalleled sense of time and place, but it is also a story that haunts your memory long after you ve finished it, even though and perhaps because you are only given a quick glance inside, a moment in time to find all the lives and secrets hovering in its darkened corners.At onc Like the titular edifice, The Tea House is a bit of a mystery, a solid debut by Paul Elwork which, in some respects, defies description or categorization It is a novel that goes down easily, with evocative prose and an unparalleled sense of time and place, but it is also a story that haunts your memory long after you ve finished it, even though and perhaps because you are only given a quick glance inside, a moment in time to find all the lives and secrets hovering in its darkened corners.At once profoundly simple and deceptively complex, The Tea House focuses on that tenuous period of time when the world had lost its innocence in the War to End All Wars, but had yet to realize the true horrors that lay ahead in WWII It is the summer of 1925, and at Ravenwood, a family estate on the banks of the Delaware River, 13 year old twins Emily and Michael Ward find themselves fatherless, a bit bored with their lives and perched on the edge of an encroaching adulthood that seems far too close, yet so very far away Emily discovers that she has a unique talent she is able to manipulate the bones in her ankle to make a popping sound, one seemingly without origin One night she uses her talent to frighten her brother by pretending to be a ghost, the knocking a form of communication from one world to the next The brooding, almost morose, Michael finds excitement in his sister s talent, a grand adventure, and very quickly he hatches a plan to convince some neighborhood friends that his sister can commune with the dead In particular, says Michael, Emily has a special connection with Regina Ward, one of their ancestors, a young woman who died tragically on the banks of the river and whose photograph has haunted Emily.It is a game in which Emily gladly participates, but as news of her spirit knocking spreads to adults, and the twins begin to enjoy their new found albeit limited fame, their summer magic threatens to unravel the secrets and ghosts of their own family and the families of others whose lives have been decimated by the war.Like the better films of Robert Altman and theaccessible works of Anton Chekhov, The Tea House is at its core a deeply rich character study, not only of people, but of a fading innocence, a decaying lifestyle and the transitory unease of impending adulthood The plot is simple and straightforward and the beauty of this story is that it can be enjoyed on both levels as the simple, misguided summer adventure of two young children, or as the broader character study.Although the novel is rife with imagery and metaphor, author Elwork never once hammers us over the head with it Like the novel as a whole, it is all done subtly, with a keen eye for detail and a steady, easy prose From the beginning, Elwork captures the boredom of childhood, the loss of the family patriarch, and the silence that threatens to swallow up the adults in the Ward family and, really, the entire world The result is a relaxed, yet brooding prose that never hurries and always carries with it a sense of danger, of impending doom There are no bumps or scares here, but the novel is most definitely a story of ghosts, of the loss of which no one will speak In that respect, the novel works on another level, as a suspense piece in the best Hitchcockian tradition.Told primarily from the point of view of Emily, we are taken on a journey as the young girl, in a desire to createghosts for their harmless charade, becomes fascinated with the story of her own family and begins to discover its history, the relationship of her parents and the things she has never known or even wanted to know before now We see Emily discovering her roots and what the loss of her father has meant to each and every member of the family It is then that the Tea House becomes for me at least the elephant in the room, that thing that hovers about each and everyone in the world It is there, on the grounds of Ravenwood, but rarely does anyone go inside and no one, save the children, speak of it, enjoy it Like all the men lost in the war the lack of men in this world becomes almost a character in itself , the Tea House is never really forgotten by the adults, but neither is it spoken of And, as we discover, Emily and Michael s family is not the only one with secrets and regrets and deafening silence around them.If I had to find any flaws, for me it is that, at times, Emily and Michael s dialog feltadult than their chronological age, but that could be the result of the accurate portrayal of that age s formality of speaking And there are one or two times when the pace could have been quickened ever so slightly But these are minor, minor quibbles, almost hardly worth mentioning.In the end, this piece works on so many levels it is hard to choose my favorite aspects The character are well drawn without being overwrought and even those lost to the war blossom into full, rich characters some worthy of their own novels as Emily learnsabout them, about the lives she never knew they led, about their lost childhoods The prose ventures into truly beautiful areas without every turning purple, and the tone perfectly captures a time and a place that can never be regained It is truly a coming of age story in the very best sense of the phrase yet it manages to be very muchA very impressive character study that makes me want to see what other stories Elwork has in him.Originally reviewed for Guilty Pleasures at Uniquely Pleasurable Review courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick science manuals, anything recommended to me by my cousin, and this book Why, you ask Was it too long Written in a foreign language No, it was boring and too slow I tried reading this book four times it Review courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick Dirty A slow and torturous journey into sibling boredom Opening Sentence The girl who would speak for the dead stood alone on the cobblestone drive after the rain Excerpt No The Review There are very few books that I have a hard time reading science manuals, anything recommended to me by my cousin, and this book Why, you ask Was it too long Written in a foreign language No, it was boring and too slow I tried reading this book four times it just went on and on and on The premise of this book is a set of twins in 1925 that get bored and decide to start a game where they fool people into believing that they are contacting the dead through spirit knocking, a noise the girl twin can make with her ankle Like most things, it grew beyond their small group of friends and starting garnering the attentions of a few adults and one con artist Great idea for a book, beautifully written prose, excellent allusions and imagery but it flows like a journal written for pleasure and not for posterity The twins, Michael and Emily Stewart, are a capricious lot They act without thinking of the consequences like all 14 year olds do Being a parent, I wanted to yell at them and their mom for the damage that they are responsible for them for doing it, and their mom for not beinginvolved before it got out of hand They may be on the cusp of adulthood but that doesn t mean they should be left without the benefit of council Honestly, these characters make me madthan any other emotion There is no true climax to this story, just a resolution to a situation There are lots of references to family skeletons and such, and the timeline waffled back and forth between the twins time and their ancestors It left me feeling cheated that I took the time to invest into this book in the first place I would have enjoyed itif I had nothing better to read or do with my time Overall, The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead holds no action or magic it s only a cautionary tale of a game getting out of hand Notable Scene What was all that talk about never including adults, Michael Emily asked, closing the book About the risk I told that to Albert, Emily You told everyone That was before Things have developed since then No Now, Em, listen, please No And so it went for a time Finally, Michael said, Why won t you do it Because it can only lead to trouble And And what And it s not nice Tricking people Tricking people Em, these people want to see you perform, that s all Fine Then let s tell them how the trick is done Tell them it s a show Now, Em, be reasonable Does a magician tell the crowd how his tricks are done Are we magicians now, Michael FTC Advisory Penguin Berkley graciously provided me with a copy of The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead No goody bags, sponsorships, material connections, or bribes were exchanged for my review The only payments I receive are hugs and kisses from my little boys ^READ KINDLE ☠ The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead ⇺ Emily Stewart is the girl who claims to stand between the living and the dead During the quiet summer of , she and her brother, Michael, are thirteen year old twins privileged, precocious, wandering aimlessly around their family s estate One day, Emily discovers that she can secretly crack her ankle in such a way that a sound appears to burst through the stillness of midair Emily and Michael gather the neighborhood children to fool them with these spirit knockings Soon, however, this game of contacting the dead creeps into a world of adults still reeling from World War I When the twins find themselves dabbling in the uncertain territory of human grief and family secrets, everything spins wildly out of control