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The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead

2.87  ·  Rating Details ·  767 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
It is the summer of 1925. Emily Stewart and her brother, Michael, are thirteen-year-old twins—privileged, precocious, and wandering aimlessly around their family’s Philadelphia estate. One day Emily discovers an odd physical talent—she can secretly crack a joint in her ankle so the sound seems to burst in midair from nowhere. In their garden tea house, Emily and Michael ga ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Berkley (first published October 1st 2007)
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i seem to have a knack lately for choosing perfectly average books to read...

this is a book i failed to win as a firstreads giveaway (hhmph) but was still interested in. so i guess i'm not displeased that i didn't win, because i might have felt churlish giving a lukewarm review to something given to me for free, and had to live with the bad feeling that would have left in my soul. as it stands, i only have to feel a little bad. i can live with that.

so this is a historical novel centered around
Dark Faerie Tales
Aug 06, 2012 Dark Faerie Tales rated it did not like it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & 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
Jun 13, 2011 Staci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
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
Feb 02, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction, 2011
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
Apr 05, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Heather Stone
Jun 30, 2011 Heather Stone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead

This is not a ghost story; it's about lies and the living ...

Reviewed by Heather Stone

Author: Paul Elwork

Publisher: Murdoch Books

Published: April 2011

Price: AU$29.99

Format: Paperback 310 pp

Category: Fiction

Can 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
Christine Trensen
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
Apr 25, 2012 fleegan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The description of the story and the cover of the book led me to believe that this novel was going to be kinda creepy, maybe spooky.
Maybe they start playing with Ouija boards and a bunch of demons take over? Maybe they really talk to a ghost? Perhaps they become possessed and kill all the adults?

No. Nothing. Nothing creepy, nothing spooky, nothing. Total letdown.

The book starts out strong. It's summer vacation, we all remember how boring it could be at times. Too old to play with toys, too young
Jun 06, 2011 Imogen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork

This was a rather creative idea put into writing, and turned into a fun and entertaining read! The book is about a scheme two precocious thirteen year old’s concoct to entertain, and spook the neighborhood children, by convincing them that the main character, Emily, can contact the dead. Like most childhood schemes, adults eventually find out, and Emily finds herself in predicaments deceiving adults and learning some of their deepest secrets.
Paul Jr.
Dec 08, 2008 Paul Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical fiction and character studies.
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
Amateur de Livre
Dec 12, 2007 Amateur de Livre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Review by Tim Gleichner

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave..." The first part of that quote seems quite an appropriate place to start the review of "The Tea House" by Paul Elwork.

The story concerns a set of twins, Emily and Michael Stewart. While their family is well-to-do, their home life is a bit mysterious and at times I sensed a bit of sadness. Emily discovers she has a unique "talent" one day, and initially has some fun with it. But once her twin, Michael, discovers her secret, he convinces E
Mar 27, 2011 Felice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
~~Sigh~~ The Girl Who Would Speak For The Dead. Love the title. Love the cover. Love the book? No. Deep like yes, but love? No. I would have loved it at 14 but not at 14 + a couple decades.

The genesis of the storyline is compelling. It's summertime 1925 and thirteen year old twins Michael and Emily are b-o-r-e-d. They have the luxury of boredom. Their family is well off and they have acres of freedom to enjoy. During the course of their idleness Emily figures out that by bending her ankle just
May 14, 2011 Brittany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Michael and Emily are thirteen-year-old twins. When Emily shares with her brother that she can make a haunting knocking sound with her ankle without visibly moving it, he starts to think they could use this talent for something. So they start small "communing to the dead" in front of some of their friends; then to some older ladies who find them a complete delight. All too soon though, Emily sees that there may be repercussions for pretending to speak for the dead.

This books didn't really seem t
Jan 09, 2015 Steph rated it liked it
Not great, but definitely not the worst book I've read recently. It's creepy, a fact that stems not from ghosts but from long-hidden family secrets. The novel is loosely based on the Fox sisters, who started "spirit knocking" in the mid-nineteenth century and played a large part in the creation of the spiritualist movement. The story of the Fox sisters fascinates me, which is why I picked this up.

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead takes place in 1925. Thirteen-year-old Emily Stewart has disco
I am disappointed in this book. I haven't looked at any other review previous to my own, as I want to see if my view is in sink or out of sink with others. Sometimes I need validation but in other instances like this, Ill stand on my own and check for validation later. Why is this a big deal with this particular book? First, I wanted to love this book. I just knew it would be right up my reading alley. I took the book title and its cover only and ran with it. Next, the story seemed to be taking ...more
Feb 28, 2011 Lyndsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads
I've really been into the ghost books here lately for some reason. This one was...interesting. It didn't blow me away but I am definitely interested and hearing what else the author can come up with. I think the main problem I had was with the MC. I just never connected to the main character and that's something that turns me away from a book fairly quickly. The concept was great and the prose was beautiful, but I just felt so "out" of the story almost the entire time I was reading. But I ended ...more
Kelly Hager
Mar 15, 2011 Kelly Hager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortly after their thirteenth birthday (in 1925), Emily and Michael start holding seances (for lack of a better word) with the neighborhood children. Emily's found that she can crack her ankle in such a way that nobody can see it move and it sounds like a knock. They call them "spirit knockings" and the children all agree to not tell their respective parents or family members. But, of course, that ends up not being true.

I really enjoyed this story, which is a combination of a family saga (there
Oct 08, 2007 Letitia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
What a fabulous new book! Spooky and smart, Elwork has a gift for description that draws you in to this story, which has the feeling of an old classic, reminiscent of "Rebecca" by Du Maurier. This is a ghost story for people who don't believe in ghosts anymore. Touches on big issues without shoving them in your face. Loved it!
Jan 19, 2013 Corrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an easy read, but there were two stories that were interwoven. I thought the second one was more interesting than the first.
Nov 08, 2015 Lesly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2011 Sara marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
i won this in the goodreads giveaway, can't wait to read it! :)
Very quiet book indeed...
Karen Bales
May 06, 2012 Karen Bales rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A ghostly atmosphere with no ghosts and no action. Real life is more exciting!
Katie Herring
Jan 18, 2017 Katie Herring rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tragically beautiful novel-- loved the writing. This does fit under my favorite genre-- a lack of flowers, however. The ending was a bit abrupt and unlikely, but the other 9/10s of the novel were lovely. I'd like more details of the past, but the novel's message was about the present.
Jan 22, 2017 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Between the World Wars twin brother and sister discover a talent for spiritualism. Their games open doors to tragedies and family secrets.
Rain Misoa
Mar 17, 2011 Rain Misoa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs and people into spirit summonings.
Recommended to Rain by: Won
Shelves: first-reads
Sometimes with little knowledge in a book can go a long way. I won this book off of GoodReads FirstReads and I was so excited and super pumped up because this was the first book I ever won off of GoodReads. When I read the synopsis, I knew that this book was going to be some ride. The premise of a girl who can make a cracking sound with her ankle and then start using that to fool other people into thinking that she can contact the dead was just a unique concept. I just had to read it. (I tried t ...more
Julie H.
Apr 21, 2011 Julie H. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Broadly speaking, The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead is a novel about wealth, social responsibility, privilege, family secrets, and guilt. But above all, it's about guilt--both the guilt we acknowledge and try to atone for and the guilt that is never owned. The bulk of the action spans the summer of 1925 into the following winter, but contains numerous forays into the Stewart family past--both through narrative flashbacks and through the results of 13-year old Emily's clandestine visits to he ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
How arrived: library
Why I picked it up: title
Expectations: meh!
Stars: three

Most of the story takes place between 1900-1920, focusing on a family of four���mother, sister and brother, and a black nanny/family friend. The narrative winds from one decade to the next, going back to the mother���s grandfather and forward to the present day. The main action of the novel is the twins��� use of the girl Emily���s ability to create a knocking sound in her leg with no perceptible motion. They use this abi
Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews)
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads
I found myself pacing this read. I would put it down faster than any other reads, but also found myself picking it up again faster, wanting to know what happens. The book is split into sections and we learn about several different families and the way the war/death/sickness and daily lives have impacted them. The majority of the book we are following twins, Michael and Emily who have decided to spend their long summer days tricking their
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“Sometimes Naomi marvelled at how much [children] seemed to know, how their chatter and play landed nearly square on adult matters of love and loneliness and disappointment and joy and regret. It sometimes seemed that they came to these things with clearer eyes than adults who talked themselves out of too much.” 1 likes
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