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Another offbeat English tingler from the author of The Haunting of Cassie Palmer--with no doubt, this time, that something strange and awesome is at loose. At twelve, Poppy Brown is known as a liar from her self-dramatizing tall tales; but that's the least of it. Poppy is precociously wise and a confirmed skeptic. ""Yes, her mother loved her; she was a child of many mothers, real, house, and foster, and they all loved her. She knew this because they told her so. . . . But she had no high opinion of love. Love did not stop people from being angry with you and punishing you for your own good. Love was not blind to your faults, but sought them out--to grieve over."" And, talking to the stone statue in the square, she takes her bracelet--marie of some old chain she's found--and fastens it around one of the statue's ankles. Lightning strikes; the statue falls from its pedestal, and raises its head to stare at her; and she has loosed Belladonna. . . who, true to her name (whose meaning Poppy doesn't understand), will use the chain to loose other carelessly destructive statues, ready to ""please or kill with equal unconcern."" The one person willing to believe Poppy is fat, also friendless Emma Hodge--who, besides having brains, has enough self-regard to put a premium on friendship (""Do you always judge people by their pop rating?"") The two are menaced by the statues on a stormy night on the moors, and imprisoned by the statues in a cave; and in the course of these terrors (which climax in most of the statues' destruction), Poppy discovers that love is real and attainable for her too. Without the reverberations of a Garner or a Mayne, but vigorous and close-textured.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
ISBN: 1408446839
Publisher: Delacorte