cover image The Haunted Lake

The Haunted Lake

P.J. Lynch. Candlewick, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0013-3

With atmospheric spreads and suitably eerie prose, Lynch (Patrick and the President) spins a long-winded yarn about a drowned village. Only the village’s church tower is visible above the water of the reservoir, and Reuben and his son, Jacob, fish there despite warnings: “There are ghosts in that lake. The bell in the tower rings whenever another poor soul is going to join them.” A young neighbor, Ellen, dotes on Jacob and vows to marry him. One night, he goes out alone and is lured inside the tower, and a bewitching woman named Lilith takes him into the town, reuniting him with his dead mother. Years pass in the world above until, as the evil Lilith is about to trap Jacob into marriage, Ellen pulls off a daring rescue. Lynch toggles between suspense and calm as he underlines Ellen’s faithfulness and grit (“Part of her wanted to sail away as fast as she could, but she stayed”). Though the text is lengthy and sometimes flat, it offers a potent escapist fantasy, especially Lilith’s underwater world, which radiates goth allure as fish swim through the bedroom, curtains billow, and a green fire burns magically in the grate. Ages 7–10. [em](Sept.) [/em]