cover image The Haunting of Falcon House

The Haunting of Falcon House

Eugene Yelchin. Holt, $15.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9845-7

Yelchin (Arcady's Goal) sets his imaginative, layered mystery%E2%80%94prefaced by a tongue-in-cheek opening note on the story's purported origins%E2%80%94in late-19th-century Saint Petersburg. Twelve-year-old Prince Lev Lvov, who loves drawing and his mother in equal measure, has been called by his paternal aunt to take up his "noble duties" at the family's Falcon House. On his journey he has an unsettling experience: the face of an unknown boy replaces his image in the dark train window. At Falcon House, events unroll with an odd mix of creepiness and comedy: Aunt Olga and her servants are all broad characters who would be at home in a Dahl novel, while the mysterious boy comes and goes with disconcerting speed. As Lev begins to question the tradition of serfdom and his role as master of Falcon House, he also undergoes strange spells of uncontrollable sketching. Finally revealing Lev as an unreliable narrator, Yelchin leaves his fate open to speculation. Offbeat, smudged sketches play a peculiar yet effective counterpoint to the evocative language, and helpful historical notes are included. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June)