cover image KATE CULHANE: A Ghost Story


Chronicle Books, Michael Hague, . . North-South/SeaStar, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-58717-058-4

Certain to bring on a shiver or two, this volume presents a tale from Irish folklore, which Hague embellishes with suitably shadowy, eerie watercolors. The opening image effectively conveys the story's chilly—soon-to-be chilling—setting: the craggy, cloud-filled coast of Ireland where Kate Culhane lives. Tending to her recently deceased mother's grave one evening, lonely Kate inadvertently steps on a newly dug grave, which holds her fast. Her "bones cold with fear," the girl unwittingly follows a voice's instruction to "Open this grave for me." The bony, ghost-like man who emerges forces her to carry him on her back to the home of a wealthy merchant. There the spectral creature cuts the fingers of the merchant's three sleeping sons with a sharp knife, draws blood and leaves his victims lifeless. Though Hague's pictures do not portray the details of this gruesome act, they are sufficiently lifelike to be a wee bit scary—especially the image of the villain trying to pull Kate into the grave with him. But the tale ends happily, as Kate outwits the dead man and finds love and wealth—and Hague at last has reason to add smiles and sunshine to his convincing illustrations. Ages 7-10. (July)