The story dates back to 1872 in New York City after the Civil War. During that time, slavery was legal and medical knowledge was not advanced. For instance, high fever was a killer disease as medication was not available. A fourteen year old Horace Carpetine took an apprenticeship with a society photographer, Mr. Enoch Middleditch. The young man became overly excited by the idea of taking his own pictures; hence, he was given all necessary tools to learn photography. Interestingly, Horace upbringing made him believe in science and rationality. This made him to think that Enoch Middleditch’s occupation in photography was as a result of scientific artistry motivation.
On the other hand, Mr. Middleditch’s business was not doing well and he was frantic to make profits despite his laziness. Fortunately, he found an opportunity to make money through deceiving Mrs. Von Macht, a wealthy client, who was grieving the death of Eleanora, her daughter. Mrs. Von Macht had an enormous house with many rooms. The house had an empty feeling and was also scary due to Eleanor’s shadow. However, the house was beautiful and had many expensive amenities. Mrs. Frederick Von Macht was desperate to put her late daughter’s spirit to rest, whom she claimed died of high fever. She knew that by placing her pictures near the gravesite, it would solve the problem. She explained to Horace and Middleditch how she loved Eleanora and would like to keep her company for as long as she lived through her pictures. She demonstrated how she had unconditional love for her by hanging numerous picture of Eleanora around her house.
Unfortunately, when she was explaining all this, she did not realize that her slave girl Pegg was listening to her talk. When Mrs. Von Match finally excused herself, Pegg told Mr. Middleditch and Horace the truth about Eleanora. Pegg said that Mrs. Von Match was lying about her love for Eleanora. According to her, Mrs. Von Macht never loved Eleanora and never took care of her leading to her death. Pegg also explained to the two men how she came to be in the family. Eleanora’s parents adopted her and she became to Eleanora like a sister. But when Eleanora’s parents died, Eleanora’s aunt, Mrs. Von Macht, treated her as a slave. Mrs. Eleanora also wanted her niece’s inheritance, which was worth a fortune. After learning all these facts, Mr. Middleditch plotted an elaborate plan which involved superimposing Eleanora’s photo onto the portrait of Mrs. Von Macht. Horace also got interested to learn more about Eleanora and her miserable life. He went to Mrs. Von Macht’s house and took pictures of Eleanora from the ones hanging on the walls. He felt that with every click of the camera, the ghost of Eleanora became more vivid. This continued to the point that he would see Eleanora walking around Mrs. Von Macht’s house. He knew his supernatural powers that had unleashed the angry ghost.
Horace discovered that Eleanora was very upset and wanted to avenge her death by killing her aunt and her husband. This she would do by burning down the house when the two were asleep. The realization made Horace believe the story that Pegg had told him earlier with his master and that was the sole reason Eleanora wanted to revenge. With this knowledge, Horace became afraid that Eleanora would kill Mrs. Von Macht and her husband.Â His fears were confirmed when he found them dead. He knew it was Eleanora who had avenged her death. To give Eleanora peace and make her go away forever, Horace poured a magic substance that would make that happen. Horace took Pegg with him and they grew together. Later they got married and named their child Eleanora.
Personal Thoughts about the Book:
The story is quite intriguing all the way through. One could not tell what to anticipate as the story draws to the end. It was surprising for Horace and Pegg to get married and name their child Eleanora. However, the book seems a bit more technical for the age group selected by the author. The language and the threatening content maybe more suited to twelve year olds and above whose reading skills are more advanced.