We Hear the Dead

we hear the deadWe Hear the Dead
by Dianne K. Salerni
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, 2010
ISBN: 978-1402230929
For Ages:


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. What begins as a clever prank traps the girls in their lie as neighbors beg for the chance to receive messages from dead relatives.

When their older sister Leah realizes the money-making potential of the scam, she takes them on the road to bamboozle newspaper editors, politicians, and the public at large. As their fame grows, each sister pursues a different goal. Maggie loves the attention. Leah seeks wealth and influence. Kate comes to believe in her own powers.

Then Maggie meets Elisha Kane, a dashing and romantic Arctic explorer who offers her a chance to better herself — but only if she will turn on her sisters and give up spirit rapping forever. Caught between two worlds, Maggie must decide where her loyalties lie.

WE HEAR THE DEAD was the inspiration for a short film entitled THE SPIRIT GAME, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Book Trailer:


“The story’s lively pace and dialogue are rife with wit, and the Fox sisters are captivating.  Insightful and a great deal of fun.” ~ Kirkus Discoveries

“Gone With the Wind meets The Titanic …” ~ Rick Barber, 850 KOA in Colorado

“Readers will be swept along with Maggie and Kate as they bamboozle an entire nation, and will feel for Maggie as she debates whether or not to leave the profession…Dianne K. Salerni has written a brilliant debut novel.”

 [Salerni] paints vivid scenes of life in upstate New York during a time when exposed ankles were shocking and the Underground Railroad offered a dangerous route to freedom for both conductors and slaves. Historical fiction at its best. ~ School Library Journal

Reading Guide/Activities

Discussion Questions

Related Non-Fiction Article

Unit Plans

About the Author

DIANNE K. SALERNI is a fifth grade teacher in Chester County, Pennsylvania by day and a writer by night. She’s the author of YA historical novels, We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks) and The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH), and a forthcoming MG fantasy series, The Eighth Day (HarperCollins 2014). In her spare time, Dianne is prone to hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Author’s Website and Blog

School Visit Information 

Dianne K. Salerni is available for school visits in person or by SKYPE. As a veteran teacher, she is accustomed to speaking in large or small groups and is comfortable hosting workshops on writing, reading, historical fiction. She specializes in connecting teen writers to other teen writers and resources through social media. Contact her at dksalerni@gmail.com.