Vivian Vande Velde,
A Coming Evil
(Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

Vivian Vande Velde turned away from her usual fantasy to produce a sort of ghost story set during World War II. A Coming Evil, while a very readable book, had a number of plot flaws that prevent it from being an excellent one.

The plotting around the ghost Gerard is especially weak. His unexpected return to life with the appearance of Lisette was given no logical explanation, and his "archaic" speech seemed particularly inaccurate. While reading the book, it was almost as though the author was just making illogical things happen to service the plot.

Apart from the lack of reasonable grounding, the ending (while certainly suspenseful) seemed rushed and abruptly cut off.

On the other hand, Vande Velde is excellent at creating the right atmosphere, and the World War II setting works unexpectedly well with the contrast to Gerard's life. Not bad, but on the whole -- if you like historical ghost stories -- you're much better off trying Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Sherwood Ring.

by Jennifer Mo
5 November 2005

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