A Coming Evil by Vivian Vande Velde
Lisette is expecting her upcoming 13th birthday to be the best year of her life. Unfortunately, the day she turns 13 her parents send her to live with her Aunt Josephine. Because the year is 1940, and the Nazis are moving on Lisette’s home in Paris. Upon reaching Josephine’s house in southern France, Lisette immediately hates it, not only because she misses her home, but because she hates her bratty cousin Cecile and the motley group of children Aunt Josephine has taken under her wing.
Lisette escapes to the woods for refuge from the hated house, but the woods hold a secret of their own. There’s a ghost there, a young man named Gerard who lived during the fall of the Knights Templar (knights as in the Middle Ages). Although scared at first, Lisette eventually finds her growing friendship with Gerard comforting. And she’s going to need that comfort. The Nazis are closing in, and the secret that’s still hiding in Aunt Josephine’s house may cost all of them their freedom.
Although Vivian Vande Velde is known for her fantasy, this book would fall more into the category of historical fiction. The ghost element is the only fantastical thing here, and it is presented in a way that makes it more believable. I loved the way the author juxtaposed Gerard’s life in the Crusades with the life that Lisette herself was experiencing. The ending had plenty of action and although it was wrapped up a little too neatly, I did enjoy it while I was reading. I wish the author had given a little more reason why there was a connection between Lisette and Gerard, but that’s my own lasting complaint.
One of the best merits of the book is that it has a little bit of everything. There is plenty of historical detail, and Lisette definitely matures by the end of the story for readers who are into character over plot. The ghost element adds a nice suspense at the beginning, and then later morphs into just a hint of romance. Really, I can’t think of anything else to ask for in a book of this type. It could have benefitted from maybe just a few more chapters in length, but on the other hand if you’re wanting a quick and interesting read, this is the book for you.
Shady Glade Rating: 8/10
This post brought to you courtesy of Recommendation Week: Ghost Stories. Don't forget to nominate your own favorite ghost books by Friday!