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High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance

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3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  507 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
In mid-nineteenth century America, spirits knock and tables tip for Maggie and Kate Fox, two teenage sisters who convince people they can talk to the dead with their mysterious rapping noises. Before long, neighbors are begging Maggie and Katie for the chance to receive messages from dead relatives and older sister Leah realizes that their "prank" has real money-making pot ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 16th 2007 by iUniverse
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Frank
We Hear the Dead started out so promising, and ended so annoyingly, that it may be one of the biggest disappointments that I've ever read. The book went swimmingly up until the point where the love interest was introduced. Dr. Elisha Kent Kane was so damn boring. This book is literally about teenage girls who start a cult revolution. That is more than enough of a story without a love interest. According to the internet (a reliable source if I ever saw one) the story of We Hear the Dead is a main ...more
Sarah
DNF. I just don't care. The narrative voice is so bland & there's no real sense of time or place.

I've read a little about the Fox history & there's no reason it should make such a lackluster novel. This is one of those books which should not have been written and/or promoted as YA simply because the historical personages are YAs themselves when events begin. There's just no urgency, no personality or flair, & Maggie's splooge about her boring life & fugly house smack of unnecess
...more
April
May 16, 2010 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We Hear The Dead by Dianne Salerni centers around the spiritualist movement and it's creators -- the Fox Sisters. What began as a not-so-innocent prank turned into a somewhat religious movement. The history of the Fox Sisters is fascinating, I suggest wikipaedia-ing it. Seriously, ya'll, history is AWESOME. So sayeth the history nerd.
Read the reset of my review here
Aine
I have to admit that I don't usually read historical fiction. It was set in the mid 1800's, and while lines like "It is expected that a wife give up her interests for her husband's" may be accurate to the time, it made me want to hurt the people who said them. And the poor girl couldn't even take a walk with her beau without a chaperon. I am so glad I didn't have to live in that time. Whenever I’m asked what time period I’d want to live in if not this one, I always choose a time in the future. T ...more
Laura
This was horrible.

I was expecting a book about spiritualism. You know. Details of the actual "new religion". Maybe some insight on how famous the Fox sisters became. Perhaps describing their social lives, and how big spiritualism actually got. . .

But no.

If you wanted to learn anything about spiritualism, do not read this book.

It turns into a pathetic love story.

There was hardly any details about (view spoiler)

The
...more
Katie
May 25, 2010 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started We Hear The Dead I had high hopes. I had read great reviews for it and I was very intrigued by the premise. Sadly, it wasn't as good as I had hoped or expected.

Maggie Fox and her younger sister, Kate, didn't mean to create a new religion with a harmless prank but they did. The spiritualist movement began with them and grew to be much more popular than anyone expected. Maggie and Kate made their living with these spirit circles. All that changed when Maggie met Elisha Kent Kane. He
...more
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Before I started this book, I didn't know much about spiritualism. I actually had to look it up. According to the dictionary, "Spiritualism- noun- a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead, esp. through mediums." It's crazy to think this all started in 19th century America with two young girls, Maggie and Kate Fox. They didn't intend to create this "religion," they actually wanted to spook their annoying niece. It obviously developed in ...more
Donna
I felt like a little kid listening to an astounding story being told by some wizened person recounting a rather shadowy part of their lives. While initially the page count had me a little nervous (really, how much story is there to tell, I thought?), it quickly didn't become a problem as I swallowed down gulp after gulp after gulp of this engrossing story.

It's interesting because starting off the story, I had a feeling I wasn't going to care what happened to these girls, whether they fell to rui
...more
Marva
Mar 29, 2010 Marva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The neat thing about this book is that it's based on the true story of the Fox sisters, who more or less started the entire Spiritualist craze in the 1850s. But more than just showing this thin slice of the times, the book is a fully realized description of pre-Civil War life on the east coast of the US. This isn't a period heavily covered in fiction. The focus on mid-nineteenth century America is mostly toward the Civil War and the antebellum South.

In the first few chapters, I was worried. They
...more
Cindy Hudson
Jun 10, 2010 Cindy Hudson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maggie Fox and her sister, Kate, are just playing around when they pretend they can communicate with the dead. But soon their brother is digging up the basement and finding what may be a body, and people everywhere are coming to them seeking to communicate with their loved ones who have passed on. They can’t tell the truth without getting into a lot of trouble, but they didn’t realize just how much their fame would spread.

When Maggie falls in love with well-known explorer Elisha Kent Kane, she w
...more
Sarah
Oct 04, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this excellent, well-written and meticulously researched novel! The story was gripping, Maggie's voice engaging and the characters were all really varied and realistic.

This is the point where I would normally say "and now for my complaints" but I can't fault much about this book. I did think the plot dragged a little bit during the last third or so of the book, when Elisha was away exploring the Arctic for years on end and Maggie was stuck home pining - BUT as this was based
...more
Caroline
Oct 12, 2014 Caroline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
We Hear the Dead has been sitting in my TBR for years, and I’ve been saying that I’m going to read it and never do for the same amount of time. But I decided that I’ve waited long enough! I wanted to start off the fall season with something spooky. I love the paranormal and I’m fascinated by the spiritualism movement that swept the nation around the turn of the last century. This seemed like a perfect book for me. However, I was greatly misdirected.

Let me start with the pros, or in this case, pr
...more
Al
Jul 24, 2011 Al rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original title: High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance, now We Hear the Dead, is a novelistic treatment of a real incident from American history, the story of the Fox sisters, whose childish pranks of communicating with the departed were taken seriously first by family members, then neighbors, and then the community, ultimately growing into a genuine phenomenon. The resulting movement, known as spiritualism, became quite the rage from the 1840s until after the Civil War. Traces of i ...more
Boo A-c
Jan 15, 2015 Boo A-c rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
for prompt 19 of 2015's ultimate reading challenge- based on a true story.

I honestly don't know what went wrong here, It should have been amazing. However the second half flagged dreadfully and in all honesty Kate seemed completely superfluous and Maggie was all over the place. Such a shame

For Fans of: famous hoaxes, badly written romance, victoriana
Whats Next: I honestly don't know.
Abbey
Oct 22, 2010 Abbey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
I really enjoyed this--I was surprised by how quickly I was sucked into it and how enrapped I became. It didn't take long and the historical accuracies and footnotes were definite bonuses.
I think this might be an author to keep an eye on.
Shannon Black
Absolutely dull and boring read.
Dark Faerie Tales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A combination of religion, history, and romance that is quite captivating, using a difficult time period to make the reader see right and wrong in a whole new way through absorbing events and characters.

Opening Sentence: I began the deception when I was too young to know right from wrong.

The Review:

What really makes We Hear the Dead so intriguing is that it’s based on a true story. The events and characters are on the verge of unbelievable,
...more
☕ℓαυяєη єℓιzαвєтн
This book had me stumped.

I waited and waited for it to get better, but every other chapter was the same thing. The concept became so repetitive that I really couldn't bare to read it anymore.

I get it. The rapping was fake and the town thought it wasn't. It was a brilliant ruse.

The writing was well done, but it was confusing at times and repetitive. I wouldn't recommend it unless you happen to be super into history and also maybe a teenager.
Lloyd Lofthouse
Jun 17, 2008 Lloyd Lofthouse rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lloyd by: I heard about it
Some movies bring tears to my eyes; books seldom do.



High Spirits by Dianne K. Salerni starts with the haunting of Hydesville in 1848. It follows the real life adventures of two sisters, Maggie and Kate Fox. Maggie starts the story by telling us that she began the ‘deception’ when she was too young to know right from wrong. Kate, the younger of the two, regrets her sister’s use of that word. To Kate, the dead are real, and the spirits talk to her.



I have well over a hundred books sitting on book
...more
Holly
For the past few years, I've had a growing interest in Victorian & Edwardian spiritualism. Spiritualism has become a mini-trend in YA literature as of late, and my own interest actually started after reading Laura Amy Schlitz's A Drowned Maiden's Hair and Cat Winters' In the Shadow of Blackbirds. I've even read a couple of non-fiction books on the subject: Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death and Barbara Weisberg's Talking to the ...more
Wisteria Leigh
Feb 23, 2009 Wisteria Leigh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance[return]by Dianne K. Salerni[return]iUniverse, $20.95[return]352p., 978-0-595-42350-7[return][return]Prepare to be entertained by the ethereal escapades of Maggie and Kate Fox who at an early age had the impish inklings of what would become a lucrative money making movement called Spiritualism. It began as a mischievous game. One day, when the girl s older niece Lizzie comes to visit, they set a plan in motion. They are not fond of Lizzie and as ...more
Daria
Jul 14, 2011 Daria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daria by: Sana
Shelves: 3point5-stars
How many of you glanced at the title and cover and thought this book was a paranormal romance set in the Victorian era? I know I did. But this book was more interesting than anything supernatural would have been.

Maggie and Kate Fox were the two girls responsible for the creation of spiritualism. However, they were frauds! It all started when they were children. Their niece Lizzie was visiting, and Maggie and Kate didn’t want her around. They made rapping sounds and talked to the “ghost” that was
...more
E. Anderson
Aug 26, 2010 E. Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man. I’m not a big person for history. Wait, that’s a lie. I majored in CLASSICS for crying out loud. I love history. But sometimes reading about it can be dry. I have yet to meet a history textbook that I could befriend. And my high school history teacher? Let’s just say she and I never saw eye to eye. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get sucked in by a good historical fiction — especially a story filled with intrigue based on the lives of some really real — really spooky — sisters.

Dianne K. Saler
...more
Andie Z
May 24, 2011 Andie Z rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, reviewed
Reviewed for TeensReadToo

When mischievous sisters Maggie and Kate Fox hear that their dreaded niece, Lizzie, is coming for a visit, they immediately start thinking of ways to get rid of her. Their prank takes the form of rapping noises that spell out messages from the dead, but instead of making Lizzie flee in fear, their plan backfires, and soon they have not only Lizzie and their family convinced, but the whole town.

All of a sudden, neighbors want to hold séances to give messages to their dece
...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Andie Z. for TeensReadToo.com

When mischievous sisters Maggie and Kate Fox hear that their dreaded niece, Lizzie, is coming for a visit, they immediately start thinking of ways to get rid of her. Their prank takes the form of rapping noises that spell out messages from the dead, but instead of making Lizzie flee in fear, their plan backfires, and soon they have not only Lizzie and their family convinced, but the whole town.

All of a sudden, neighbors want to hold séances to give messa
...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Andie Z. for TeensReadToo.com

When mischievous sisters Maggie and Kate Fox hear that their dreaded niece, Lizzie, is coming for a visit, they immediately start thinking of ways to get rid of her. Their prank takes the form of rapping noises that spell out messages from the dead, but instead of making Lizzie flee in fear, their plan backfires, and soon they have not only Lizzie and their family convinced, but the whole town.

All of a sudden, neighbors want to hold séances to give messa
...more
Books & Sensibility
I won this book from the Dianne K. Salerni during a giveaway and I'm glad I did. If I hadn't I don't think I would ever picked this book up. For some reason I was wary of independent and small book publishers and was surprised by We Hear The Dead. It is a thoughtful and thorough novel with an interesting story to tell.


The protagonist is Maggie Fox, although she sometimes tosses the reigns to her sister Kate Fox for a chapter or two. What begins as a prank by the two young sisters to fool their n
...more
Yelania Nightwalker
Maggie y su hermana Kate empezaron todo como una broma contra su prima, pero las cosas se salieron de control y pronto el espiritismo se volvió muy famoso. Ellas comenzaron a hacer sesiones de espiritismo y la gente llegaba para hablar con sus difuntos, los fantasmas respondían con golpecitos; dos veces era un SI, una vez era un NO. Todo marchaba bien, ellas recibían dinero a cambio del uso de sus poderes de mediums, hasta que Elisha Kent Kane hace aparición.

Quiero decir que habían un montón de
...more
Mary Simonsen
Jul 30, 2012 Mary Simonsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We Hear the Dead is the story of Maggie and Kate Fox from Hydesville, New York, early members of the Spiritualist movement. Their first foray into the realm of Spiritualism was accidental--a prank played upon an annoying relation. However, the contrivance was so successful "that they extended the prank to include parents and their neighbors until deception became their way of life." The two young sisters, barely in their teens and guided by their business savvy older sister, succeeded in convinc ...more
Malcolm
Jun 01, 2010 Malcolm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rap twice for "yes." Rap once for "no."

If spirits weren't talking through raps, taps and other assorted sounds in the darkened rooms, how were the girls doing it? Some said Maggie and Kate Fox were frauds when they first claimed to hear the dead in Hydesville, New York in 1848.

Perhaps Maggie, the protagonist, had a gift for counseling and perhaps her more adventurous sister Kate truly had the evolving abilities of a medium, even though the whole thing began as a prank. Their mother believed mor
...more
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DIANNE K. SALERNI, a former fifth grade teacher, is the author of YA historical novels, We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks) and The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH), as well as a children's fantasy series from HarperCollins: The Eighth Day, Book 1, The Inquisitor's Mark, Book 2, and The Morrigan's Curse, Book 3.

The Caged Graves is a Junior Library Guild Selection, and We Hear the Dead was the inspiration fo
...more
More about Dianne K. Salerni...

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