A COMING EVIL by Vivian Vande Velde


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In a highly readable novel, Vande Velde (Smart Dog, p. 1294, etc.) daringly combines a fantasy with her tale of a young girl during the French Resistance in WWII. For Lisette's 13th birthday in September of 1940, her parents send her from Paris to stay with her Aunt Josephine in the country. Lisette discovers that not only will she be sharing a room with her dreadful cousin Cecile, but that her aunt harbors five Jewish and gypsy children. When Lisette tries to get away from the attentions and needs of the others, especially Cecile, she meets Gerard, a 14th-century ghost in the woods. Aunt Josephine is called away, and it is up to Lisette to hide the children when the soldiers come. Gerard makes their escape possible, and provides the evidence that convinces the Germans to leave. Vande Velde describes all of this clearly from Lisette's perspective, so readers see how the children have been drilled to hide as a kind of game; how groceries are purchased, to keep secret the number of people being fed; how ubiquitous the presence of the Nazis, even in the countryside. Gerard's presence is beautifully handled; he becomes more substantial and more comprehensible the longer Lisette speaks to him, and he has a deeply interesting history of his own.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin