I recently finished reading Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown's Picture the Dead, a gothic, illustrated novel set in Civil War-era Massachusetts. Admittedly, the authors had me sweating for a while because they used some of the same themes that appear in my work-in-progress: a wartime setting, spirit photography, a soldier's mysterious death. The book was a page turner with gorgeous prose, so it didn't take me long to speed through the haunting story and realize--with a huge sigh of relief--our books have enough differences for me to keep plugging away. Definitely check it out if you're looking for a book to read while huddled under the covers. Fans of Poe, the Bronte sisters, and Sarah Waters's darker tales will eat it up.
While vacationing in Washington this past week, I visited the wonderful Village Books in Fairhaven and added another ghostly YA novel to my reading pile: The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I've read his adult fiction before and especially enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind. This new novel was actually published in Spanish in 1993, but Little, Brown Books just released an English version in May. It involves a young teen's experiences in a long-unoccupied--and possibly haunted--house on the Spanish coast during WWII. Can't wait to read it!
As for my own writing news, I need to plug away at Blackbirds revisions before submitting the manuscript to another critique partner in September. I've been reading so much info about how crucial it is to be able to write a one-sentence synopsis of one's book, and I think I've come up with one that satisfies me: A sixteen-year-old girl helps both the living and the dead endure the horrors of a troubled era.