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A DROWNED MAIDEN’S HAIR by Laura Amy Schlitz


A Melodrama

by Laura Amy Schlitz

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7636-2930-8
Publisher: Candlewick

In this fast-paced story set in 1909, three seemingly caring elderly sisters adopt feisty, orphaned 11-year-old Maud Flynn. She soon discovers that they’re spiritualistic con artists who value their “secret child” only because her shortness and singing talents help them dupe wealthy bereaved clients in ever-more-elaborate shams. Ironically, intelligent and resourceful Maud unwittingly turns out to possess some apparently real powers. Schlitz’s well-written narrative depicts the period’s craze for spiritualism and captures melodrama at its best with an orphan; shockingly villainous, heartless characters; a happy ending and some supernatural touches. Readers will get caught up in Maud’s plight and keep reading to see if she can extricate herself and to learn about the genuinely fascinating details of the fakery. However, melodrama implies certain negatives, such as a predictable, too-good-to-be-true ending and some all-black or all-white characters. Overall, an interesting, brisk read, but it will be up to readers to decide how much of this they buy. (Fiction. 10-14)