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About the Author
Dianne SalerniDIANNE K. SALERNI is an elementary school teacher, author, and online book reviewer. She has previously published educational materials for teachers, as well as short stories. We Hear the Dead is her first full-length novel. With her husband and her two daughters, Salerni lives in Pennsylvania, where she is at work on her novel.
Table of Contents
Author’s Note ix
Part One: The Haunting of Hydesville 1
Part Two: The Rise of a Religion 69
Part Three: The Affair and the Adventurer 185
Part Four: Education and Exile 283
Part Five: Folly and Fate 361
A Final Word 425
Want to Read More? 426
About the Author 429
From Chapter One:
I was not happy about leaving the cheerful and bustling city of Rochester for the dreary, vacant countryside of Wayne County. I had just turned fourteen, and I...
From Chapter One:
I was not happy about leaving the cheerful and bustling city of Rochester for the dreary, vacant countryside of Wayne County. I had just turned fourteen, and I thought that being banished to “frontiersland” would be the end of my life.
To make matters worse, the rooms that my family rented in Rochester had become unavailable because the owner, Mr. Isaac Post, had sold the house. It was necessary to move out of our lodgings before the new home was built, so my father rented a small house within the town limits of Hydesville.
Hydesville wasn’t much of a town, as far as I was concerned, and ours wasn’t much of a house. Its best feature was a south-facing parlor with several windows to brighten the room. The kitchen, however, was dark and dreary. The house’s single bedroom received sunlight only in the morning. There was a buttery off the kitchen, and a cobwebbed attic over the back half of the house. The absolutely most horrible part of the house was the cellar.
Kate and I explored it while Father and David moved furniture above us. Foul water squelched around our shoes, bubbling up from the damp earth floor. The wood beams supporting earthen walls leaned inward at an alarming angle, giving the unsettling impression of imminent collapse.
“It smells like an open grave,” I stated in disgust.
“To be sure,” answered Kate, “and there lies the corpse.” She pointed at the darkest corner of the cellar, where I could dimly make out a mound of loose earth piled carelessly against a crooked wall.
“What are you girls doing down there?”
The voice made us jump. We turned and saw my father leaning in through the doorway, peering at us in the dim light.
I opened my mouth, ready to burst out with fresh complaints about moving into a house built over a pauper’s cemetery. But Kate took my hand firmly and spoke before me. “We were just curious, Father.” She led me toward the stairs, and I followed silently, without voicing my opinion.
Hydesville was less a town than a cluster of houses and farms that had grown up around a tavern, which later closed down and left the townsfolk wondering why they had come. My mother, I know, was relieved to see the boarded doors on the old Hyde’s Tavern. She had forgiven her husband for his years of drunkenness but had never quite forgotten.
We had lived in the Hydesville house less than two weeks when a letter from my sister Leah arrived, telling us to expect her daughter to arrive by canal boat within a few days. Lizzie was coming “to lend us a hand.” Only Leah could imagine that feeding and housing another person under our present circumstances would be a help. Especially Lizzie, a great big horse of a girl with the brains of a cow and the liveliness of a fencepost.
Leah obviously needed to be rid of Lizzie for her own purposes. Perhaps she wanted to put a boarder in the girl’s room to make extra money. Leah held piano lessons and rented rooms but always seemed to be in an endless state of acquiring funds. Whenever she could persuade my parents to feed, clothe, and shelter her daughter, she did so.
Anticipating Lizzie’s arrival did not improve my outlook on the house, Hydesville, or the dismal end of my former life. Kate and I moaned and threw fits, but Lizzie was already on her way, and our mother actually looked forward to her arrival. Honestly, I cannot tell why, unless it was simply because she was the eldest grandchild and the daughter of her precious Leah. Lizzie did not resemble my sister, who was pretty and bold and the center of any gathering of people. I never met Mr. Bowman Fish, who ran off to marry a rich widow when Lizzie was only a baby, but I imagine that he must have resembled his own name and passed those features on to his daughter.
“Lizzie Fish is a stinky old cod,” Kate chanted out of the hearing of our parents.
“Face like a path where the oxen trod,” I rejoined, turning the jump rope, which we had tied to a tree.
“Screwed up little eyes and pale, thin hair—”
“For a penny and a half I would push her down the stair.”
“How many steps did Lizzie fall down?”
My seventeen-year-old niece, Lizzie, was the least important person in this entire story—and also the most important. She was the reason for everything that was to come: the rapping, the lecture halls, the spirit circles, and the messages from the dead.
Kate and I did not like Lizzie. We did not look forward to her arrival, and we resented sharing our bed with her.
Everything that happened—everything—was originally just a plan to scare Lizzie and make her go home.
““Maggie is a bright, interesting, and down to earth character who believes that she is offering a service by giving comfort to grieving families… Those who like historical fiction w...
““Maggie is a bright, interesting, and down to earth character who believes that she is offering a service by giving comfort to grieving families… Those who like historical fiction will find this an entertaining romance.”” - VOYA
““The research is excellent, and the author displays a facility for fluid prose even as she writes in a modified archaic style that lends credence to the first-person conceit of the novel. Although the book’s length may discourage some readers, those caught in the story will enjoy it. A promising debut.”” - Kirkus
““Inherently fascinating”” - Booklist
““Those who like historical fiction will find this an entertaining romance.”” - VOYA
Length: 8.25 in
Width: 5.5 in
Weight: 18.32 oz
Page Count: 448 pages