An Irish teenager still grieving for her two-years-dead mother gets some unusual help in this decidedly unpredictable series opener.
A family vacation to Loch Ness at first delights Vanessa, who sees it as a chance to continue her mother’s cryptid research. But that delight changes to rage when it turns out that she’ll be staying at the very cottage where Lee, the woman her widowed father is seeing, grew up and is visiting. Flitcroft’s own research is clearly visible: in the historical notes that preface each chapter, in narrative discussions of theories regarding Nessie’s nature and in detailed descriptions of the Loch’s many natural beauties and distinctive local sites. A fainting spell and other odd incidents presage a dreamlike, life-changing climactic encounter between Vanessa and the fabled monster—which turns out to be far different from the prehistoric survivor common theories hold it (if it exists) to be. It also, astonishingly, serves to bring Vanessa and Lee closer together.
Vanessa’s emotional roller coaster takes center stage, but there’s enough Nessie lore and presence to please the most demanding cryptid fans. (Fantasy. 10-12)