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THE WITCH IN THE LAKE by Anna Fienberg


by Anna Fienberg

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-55037-723-X
Publisher: Annick Press

A gripping climax takes far too long to arrive in this glacial tale of young love and wizardry in 16th-century Italy. Born within minutes of each other, neighboring 12-year-olds Leo and Merilee (an odd choice of name, considering the setting) have always been inseparable, even though Merilee’s termagant Aunt Beatrice has been trying to drive a wedge between their families ever since older sister Laura fell victim to the evil presence haunting a nearby lake. Amid a positively Shakespearean welter of plots and subplots, romances and revelations, Merilee is suddenly hustled away to a college of women herbalists, but escapes in time to see Leo come into his full wizardly inheritance, free Laura, and overcome the scary spirit. Cut to three years later for Leo’s and Merilee’s wedding, arranged by, of all people, Aunt Beatrice, who has suddenly gone from a crafty, powerful presence to foolish amiability. Replete with promising but undeveloped ideas, plus incidents that do more to signal a character’s growth than to advance the plot—not to mention a cultural milieu largely defined by an occasional pasta dish or emphatic “Mamma mia!”—this will disappoint admirers of Fienberg’s Borrowed Light (2000). (Fiction. 11-13)