cover image Haunted Waters

Haunted Waters

Mary Pope Osborne, Liardon, Mary Pope Osborne. Candlewick Press (MA), $14.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-119-9

At the opening of this sweepingly romantic novel, its hero, the dashing Lord Huldebrand of Ringstetten, strays off the beaten path as he travels through an ancient forest, only to find himself spurred on by otherworldly forces. So, too, will readers surrender to the irresistible momentum of Osborne's (Mermaid Tales from Around the World) lush narrative, which was inspired by a German fairy tale written by the Baron de la Motte-Fouque in the early 19th century. Huldebrand takes refuge with an elderly fisherman and his mad wife, who turn out to have a spellbindingly beautiful daughter, the guileless Undine. As storms and floods prevent Huldebrand from resuming his journey, he and Undine fall in love; a shipwrecked priest miraculously washes up on the fisherman's shores and performs their marriage ceremony. The newlyweds return to Huldebrand's castle, but their happiness is clouded as evidence quickly mounts that Undine is not mortal but a creature of the sea kingdom. The gifted author unfolds her tale so that its developments seem both inevitable and wholly surprising. She chooses details elegantly and economically, using just a few descriptive phrases to evoke a sumptuously imagined chivalric age. Lustrous as a pearl. Ages 12-15. (Sept.)