FACES IN THE WATER by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


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Two seemingly unrelated terrors gripped teenage Dan on a family trip to York, England, in Shadows on the Wall (1980), the first volume of Naylor's projected "York Trilogy": the possibility of his father, and if so Dan too, developing the hereditary Huntington's disease; and the unexplained seizure of dread that came to be associated with ghosts of Roman soldiers. The disease is in the background here, but the soldiers and the mysterious gypsies Dan visited in York still haunt him on his grandmother's farm on the Susquehanna, where he has carried an ancient coin traded to him back in England by a gypsy his age. Grandma's itinerant hired man resembles one of the gypsies; another of the gypsies stares up at him from the stream in Grandmother's cellar, as the Roman did from the river in York; a magpie associated with all the gypsies calls his name; and, midway, Dan himself slips through time and space to Roman England, where the gypsy family turns up as tribespeople fighting the occupying army and Dan tries to help the pretty gypsy daughter find a haven. Back in the present, he knows the hired man must have a sister who needs Dan's help. . . but he hasn't found her when this installment ends. No doubt the stories will come together in the final volume. Meanwhile we have some smooth and fairly complex interweaving of the characters' various manifestations; some spooky effects that are effective until, once more, they pile up ludicrously; some fairly shallow musings on time and time-travel; and a general gloss of grade-B melodramatic writing.
Pub Date: March 16th, 1981
ISBN: 0689849621
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1981


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