Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Coming Evil

A Coming Evil

Viviane Vande Velde
For ages 12 and up
Houghton Mifflin, 2007   ISBN: 0618747818

Lisette is excited because she will soon be thirteen and when you turn thirteen you are no longer a child. You are a “young lady” who no longer has to wear hair ribbons to school. Unfortunately for Lisette the Germans invade France and occupy Paris before she can turn thirteen and her birthday on September 1st, 1940 is not all what she had hoped for. Her parents decide to send her to live with her Aunt Josephine. They feel she will be safer in the country and there will be more food there as well.

So Lisette leaves her home in Paris and goes to Sibourne to live with Aunt Josephine and annoying Cousin Cecile. When she gets to the farm she finds out that Aunt Josephine has taken in five children. Two of the children are Gypsies and the rest are Jews. If the Nazis should catch Aunt Josephine harboring the children then they will certainly arrest her. It is a terrifying thought and very careful plans have been laid to make sure that the children should be hidden should anyone come near the house.

Not long after she arrives Lisette takes a walk, and not far from the farmhouse she meets a most extraordinary person, a ghost of a thirteen year old boy who died in 1314. Over time Lisette learns that the boy, Gerard, was a Templar Knight who was a victim of the purges instigated by King Philip IV of France. At first Gerard is very thin and misty and she cannot even hear him speak, but he gets more and more substantial with each passing day.

One day Aunt Josephine announces that she has to go away for a day or two. In her absence the Germans decide to pay the farm a visit. Suddenly the safety of the whole family is threatened. Can Lisette keep them all safe?

In this intriguing novel the author combines historical fiction and fantasy to produce a book which is thoroughly enjoyable and once begun, hard to out down. It is interesting to note how a dead victim of prejudice and persecution in the past, Gerard, somehow finds his way to those in need in the present. Readers will not only find out about events from the Second World War, but they will also be taken further back to the days when the Templar Knights were a power in France, a power which aroused the attention of a jealous king. One cannot help hoping that the author might consider telling us more about Gerard, Lisette, and the five hidden children. What is going to happen next?