This highly atmospheric debut crackles with tension and has a shivery horror tang.
Lexi’s late father taught her that witches are as good, bad and various as humans, so she trusts the witch sisters who live at the edge of her village; unlike most of the sullenly insular villagers, she doesn’t blame a lurking stranger when children start disappearing. Each night, a village child hears the wind singing a tune and climbs out the window to play on the moor, vanishing before morning. Early on, the text is highly descriptive of the setting, dedicating almost too many words to the heathery moor hills and the wind that “sang me lullabies. Lilting, humming, high-pitched things, filling the space around me so that even when all seemed quiet, it wasn’t.” Soon, however, the wind and moor descriptions become retroactively crucial, weaving themselves into the content of the plot. As a mob mentality unfolds in the village, tracker Lexi works harder and harder to defend the stranger and find the children. Part mourning and healing tale, part restless ghost story, the strengths here are Lexi’s sophisticated characterization (strong, sad, fiercely protective) and the extraordinary sense of place.Set in an undefined past, this will appeal to fans of literarily haunting vibes and romance; readers who love it will go on to Wuthering Heights. (Fantasy. 14-18)