What the Dead Want by Norah Olson Review

WTDWTitle: What The Dead Want

Author: Norah Olson

Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books

Format: eBook

Publication Date: July 26, 2016

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

Source: Edelweiss

16 -year-old Gretchen takes photographs to understand the world around her, a passion her mother Mona fostered and encouraged when she was still around. Since her mom disappeared years ago, Gretchen and her dad have lived on their own in New York City, haunted by Mona’s absence.

When Gretchen’s great aunt Esther calls unexpectedly to tell her that she has inherited the pre-Civil War mansion on her mother’s side of the family in upstate New York, Gretchen understands nothing except that her aunt needs her help. But what she finds there is beyond her imagination. The house is crumbling apart, filled with stacks of papers and journals from decades, even centuries past, and it’s crawling with rodents. It’s also full of secrets and a legacy of racism and violence so reprehensible that the ghosts of the past are exacting revenge on the living.

Somehow the mystery of Mona’s disappearance and the atrocities that happened on the land during the Civil War are inextricably intertwined, and it’s up to Gretchen to figure out how…before even more lives are lost.


What the Dead Want is a decent paranormal fantasy. I almost wanted to call this urban fantasy, but it hits multiple different genres which is really fascinating. It is simultaneously historical fiction, paranormal fantasy, mixed with tidbits of a coming of age story. I think there were definite opportunities with the pacing of the book but ultimately it was a solid showing. Gretchen was a bit hard to connect with, but that is mostly the pacing issues I mentioned before. The book almost moves too quickly, I felt like I didn’t know Gretchen and all of a sudden we were taking a trip upstate to meet her great aunt, and then from there the whole book just took off. However, the excerpts from Fidelia’s diaries were some of my favorites, and I honestly felt like I was more connected to Fidelia through most of the book than the main character.

The hidden story of Celia and Rebecca is so heartbreaking, and it threads through this entire story. It is worth reading this book for that alone, and I felt very connected to the girls. I also have to say that I felt more connected to the side characters like Esther, Hawk, Hope and Simon than I did to Gretchen. She was actually my least favorite part to this book. However it was a good showing overall, and I would give it 3 out of 5 stars and tell you it’s worth reading if you like books that break genre stereotypes.


3/5 – Worth Reading

**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I did not receive monetary compensation from it.**

Find NORAH OLSON online:

Official Website | Goodreads | Twitter 


Goodreads | Official WebsiteKindle | Amazon | Barnes&Noble


Happy Reading Everyone!!!