A young girl uncovers an incredible, terrifying secret inside a forbidding, ominous house perched on the edge of the sea.
Ever since Lampie’s mother died, lighthouse keeper Augustus has drunk himself into debt and hurls his anger at Lampie. When a ship is wrecked, father and daughter are blamed for carelessly running out of matches to light the lamp. Augustus is imprisoned in his lighthouse, and illiterate Lampie must be a servant for seven years in the sinister Black House, rumored to harbor a monster. What Lampie discovers in the high tower room is not what she expects, but Lampie is her mother’s daughter, with resiliency to survive in the face of relentless cruelty and despair. The story is billed as a sequel to “The Little Mermaid,” but the ties to Han Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale are not apparent until well into it. However, elements of The Secret Garden and “Beauty and the Beast” are evident throughout, enticing readers hungry for new yet classic-feeling books. Translated from Dutch, the third-person narration moves seamlessly, transitioning from character to character, drawing parallels, and setting up juxtapositions that further illuminate the characters’ motivations and growth. Many of the adults in this book are damaged, mentally and physically, and this affects most cruelly the children in their lives. Characters seem to be assumed white.
Gritty and suspenseful, this atmospheric fairy tale will capture the hearts of sturdy middle-grade readers.