A chilling, compelling mystery from the internationally bestselling author of The Shadow of the Wind.
When fourteen-year-old Irene Sauvelle moves with her family to Cape House on the coast of Normandy, she's immediately taken by the beauty of the place--its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. There, she meets a local boy named Ishmael, and the two soon fall in love. But a dark plot is about to unfold involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past.
As strange lights shine through the fog surrounding a small, barren island, Irene's younger brother dreams of a dark creature hidden deep in the forest. And when a young girl is found murdered, her body at the end of a path torn through the woods by a monstrous, inhuman force, Irene and Ishmael wonder--has a demonic presence been unleashed on the inhabitants of Cape House? Together, they'll have to survive the most terrifying summer of their lives.
In this exciting, if somewhat over-the-top Gothic thriller, originally published in 1995, 14-year-old Irene Sauvelle, her younger brother, and their widowed mother relocate from Paris to the coast of Normandy in 1937. Madame Sauvelle has been hired as housekeeper and secretary at Cravenmoore, the mansion of the kindly, but reclusive genius Lazarus Jann, one of the greatest toymakers in the world. Irene, to her delight, soon finds a boyfriend and kindred soul in Ismael, a handsome young fisherman, but in the wake of a brutal murder, Irene and Ismael discover that Jann is not what he seems and that mysterious dangers haunt both the mansion and the surrounding forest. Zaf n s pre-WWII French setting is nicely realized, and his romantic leads are entirely believable. Unfortunately, Jann mad scientist and demon toymaker rolled into one is too much, a character seemingly drawn straight out of Offenbach s Tales of Hoffmann. There are plenty of thrills and chills, however, and this book should please readers who like to be scared, but aren t looking for overtly graphic violence. Ages 12 up.