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The Seer of Shadows Paperback – September 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


“An intriguing ghost story. Details about photographic processes add authenticity, while the book’s somber ending will leave spines tingling.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“This tale proves that the time-honored ghost story, capably researched, well-paced and fusing the Gothic elements of mystery, madness and romance, can still thrill in the hands of a skilled craftsman.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“In perhaps his best work yet, Avi has created a truly chilling tale that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned and the lights are turned out.” (Children's Literature)

About the Author

Avi is the author of more than sixty books, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, a Newbery Medal winner, and Crispin: At the Edge of the World. His other acclaimed titles include The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth, both Newbery Honor Books, and most recently The Seer of Shadows. He lives with his family in Colorado.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060000171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060000172
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

More info at avi-writer.com and facebook.com/avi.writer
Avi is part of a family of writers extending back into the 19th century. Born in 1937 and raised in New York City, Avi was educated in local schools, before going to the Midwest and then back to NYC to complete his education. Starting out as a playwright--while working for many years as a librarian--he began writing books for young people when the first of his kids came along.

His first book was Things That Sometimes Happen, published in 1970, and recently reissued. Since then he has published seventy books. Winner of many awards, including the 2003 Newbery award for Crispin: the Cross of Lead (Hyperion), two Newbery Honors, two Horn Book awards, and an O'Dell award, as well as many children's choice awards, he frequently travels to schools around the country to talk to his readers.

Among his most popular books are Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, the Poppy books, Midnight Magic, and The Fighting Ground.

In 2008 he published The Seer of Shadows (HarperCollins), A Beginning a Muddle and an End (Harcourt), Hard Gold (Hyperion) and Not Seeing is Believing, a one-act play in the collection, Acting Out (Simon and Schuster). Crispin: the End of Time, the third in the Newbery Award-winning series, was published in 2010. City of Orphans was released in 2011, receiving a number of starred reviews. Learn more at Avi-writer.com. Follow Avi on Facebook, facebook.com/avi.writer, where he shares an inside look at his writing process.

Avi lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and family.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Yoomi VINE VOICE on March 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"photography reveals facts" or at least some form of the truth which is why people began to prefer it to paintings. Horace Carpetine, the main character and apprentice to the photographer Enoch Middleditch, finds himself in a difficult position when his employer looks to profit by deceiving a customer. Mrs. Von Macht has recently lost her only child and comes to Enoch Middleditch for a photograph to place on her daughter's grave. She appears to be a grieving mother but things are not as they seem and Horace soon discovers the horrifying truth. When the deception becomes reality, things quickly begin to unravel and suddenly, everyone is in great danger.

I loved the book because it is suspenseful and I have an interest in photography. I have developed film and watched an image appear in the developer so I could relate to Horace's love of the art. But while it is noted that this book is for ages 9-12, I would hesitate to give this book to a 4th or 5th grader. The nature of the daughter's death is disturbing and for children who are easily frightened, this book could discourage them from ever posing for another photograph. Also, because this book is set in the 1800's and photography was new, some of the terminology and equipment will be completely foreign to a child, especially in our digital age. But for more advanced readers who like a little horror, it's a great read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reader on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Enjoyed the book and the main characters. Subject matter may be too dark for a sensitive reader. I would not recommend for a younger reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann VINE VOICE on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Avi's Seer of Shadows is a delightfully creepy tale designed to take its young adult readers into the darker side of ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Heck, even this *slightly* older than young adult reader found herself able to vividly imagine a sinister young ghost set on terrorizing those who wronged her in life, and the idea that a ghost can materialize through photographs is one often put forth in the paranormal community. No wonder I looked cautiously over my shoulder as I read alone late at night!

Young Horace Carpetine finds himself apprenticed to a rather lazy photographer in 1872; business isn't all that good, so when an odd appointment is made, Horace doesn't think twice about accepting on behalf of his master to photograph the seemingly bereft Mrs. Von Macht. Mrs. Von Macht wants to bring reassurance to her recently deceased daughter's spirit by placing a photo of herself on her tomb, but Horace's master sees the opportunity to set himself up as a "spiritual" photographer by manipulating the photo to look as though the ghost of Eleanora has returned. It doesn't take long for Horace and the servant Peggy to realize that Eleanora has indeed returned, and she's bent on revenge toward her adopted parents. Things rapidly spin out of control as the two race to protect the Von Machts and help Eleanora return to the spectral realm.

Rich in atmosphere, Seer of Shadows is a fast read that envelops you quickly. With more scrutiny, the ideas don't hold up as well, but that's all right since the book more than accomplishes its goal of scariness. More bothersome to me is the "romance" between Horace and Peggy, which definitely doesn't fit the time period (even if it does make for a nice element). I liked how the story was tied up in the end, however, and could imagine someone telling this tale late at night at a slumber party. Good writing with just the right touch of the macabre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
These days, when even my four-year-old niece has a functioning digital camera, it's hard to imagine a time when photography was still more mysterious than commonplace. Back in 1872, when Avi's THE SEER OF SHADOWS is set, photography was a brand new art form, a complicated set of processes understood by few and believed by many to be a sort of magic.

No wonder, then, that some unscrupulous photographers in the late 19th century took advantage of the public's ignorance of photographic methods and the simultaneous public interest in spiritualism, mysticism and ghosts of all kinds to launch a business in "spirit photography," in which images of a client's dead loved ones are superimposed onto a standard portrait or landscape photograph.

One of these shifty photographers, in Avi's novel, is Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer of little or no reputation. His apprentice, Horace Carpetine, tells the story of how Mr. Middleditch plotted an elaborate plan to dupe a grieving mother, Mrs. Frederick Von Macht, who desperately wants to put her late daughter's spirit to rest by placing a photograph on her gravesite. Mr. Middleditch has the idea to superimpose an actual image of Eleanora, the dead girl, onto a portrait of Mrs. Von Macht.

When Mr. Middleditch enlists Horace's unwilling help, however, little does he know that Horace actually has the supernatural ability to bring latent spirits to life with the photographs he takes. Horace, who was raised in a supremely rational household and with whom ghost sightings and spiritual phenomena hold little sway, at is highly skeptical about the ghostly images that appear in his photographs, and, later, about the mysterious figure that lurks in the corners of the Von Macht house.
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