Jess hasn’t visited Roseroot Pool since the day she felt an unseen presence stalking her there (in 1577 Scotland, wolves still roam); letting Freya talk her into returning, Jess watches, helpless and horrified, as a dark horse first abducts, then disappears into the pool with her friend.
Freya’s family is devastated, but only Jess’ grandmother, Ellen, believes her story. Kelpies, shape-shifters with a penchant for stealing human children, she says, are responsible—not just for Freya’s disappearance, but for others as well, including, many years earlier, Ellen’s cousin Euan. Learning that a taken child can be rescued from the kelpie world, Jess is determined to bring Freya back. This proves more complicated than Jess expected. She’s powerfully drawn to Finn, the handsome kelpie she forces to help her, and to his strangely beautiful, sparsely populated land. For his part, Finn, whose father is Ellen’s cousin Euan, has long been obsessed with Jess, but they part when she leaves with Freya. Safely home, normal life resumes, and Jess enjoys a budding romance with Freya’s cousin Magnus—until Finn is discovered nearly dead in the snow, banished from his family and his world. This is a gentle, even conventional fantasy, related in formal, sometimes-heightened language that makes the most of the story’s evocative setting.
Give this Scottish import to lovers of horses and folkloric fantasy. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)