Originally published in Spain, this chilling book follows the mysterious events that take place in a sleepy French coastal village in 1937.
After her father dies and his debts drive the family into a new life of poverty in Paris, 14-year-old Irene Sauvelle moves with her mother Simone and younger brother Dorian to Blue Bay. Simone becomes housekeeper at Cravenmoore, the grand, secluded mansion of retired toymaker Lazarus Jann and his bedridden wife. In exchange for her work, which includes overlooking Jann’s strange proclivities and supervising the single cook/maid, a local teen named Hannah, the Sauvelles get to live in a picturesque cottage called Seaview. The talkative Hannah introduces Irene to village life and to her orphaned cousin Ismael. Back at Cravenmoore, the enigmatic Jann wows Dorian with his numerous mechanical toys and inventions. As romance ignites between Irene and Ismael, a brutal murder in the forest between Seaview and Cravenmoore quickens the pace and the pulse. Many of the standard tropes of the mystery genre abound (an off-bounds west wing, a sinister forest, a cruel mother, eerie newspaper clippings), yet Zafón has created an original tale that will keep readers turning pages. The romance and female protagonist may make the novel more appealing for females, but there are enough creepy elements to reach male readers.
A genuine mystery with occasional horror elements. (Historical mystery/horror. 13-18)