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White Crow

Review

White Crow

Are you in the mood for a frothy, lightweight, romantic comedy? If so, please continue on elsewhere. WHITE CROW is one spine-tingling creep-fest guaranteed to keep fans of gothic horror turning pages until the end.

The story is told from three perspectives. In the present-day, a girl named Rebecca reluctantly arrives in the seaside village of Winterfold to spend the summer with her father. She hates the town on sight and would much prefer to be home in London with her friends. Ferelith has always lived in Winterfold, which is sliding slowly into the ocean. She knows people describe her as a freak, and doesn't mind dressing and acting the part. She spots Rebecca, describes her as beautiful, and says that the moment she sees her she loves her and knows that Rebecca will grow to love her, too.

Aside from Rebecca and Ferelith's story, a rector living in Winterfold in 1798 also tells of a stranger coming to the village. The newcomer is from France, a physician named Dr. Barrieux. Barrieux lives in Winterfold Hall, where he is laying in supplies --- not only food and drink but also unknown "items of function." The rector and the doctor eventually discover that they share a fascination with the afterlife…and the doctor has a plan for how to investigate what happens after a person dies (this, according to the author's note, is based on historical fact).

Back in present-day Winterfold, Rebecca is bored. She is not getting along with her father, a policeman who has recently been disgraced. She reads book after book, then explores Winterfold. There's not much to see, although she's mildly intrigued by a pub called The Angel and The Devil. She wanders into the woods where she discovers a clearing near a sea cliff. She surprises herself by bursting into "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but is even more taken aback to hear another voice singing along. As Ferelith introduces herself, Rebecca faints.

When Rebecca comes to, she ponders Ferelith, who is decidedly odd-looking. All her features --- fingers, nose, eyes, chin, long black hair --- end in points. The Winterfold girl knows Rebecca's name and that she's the daughter of the policeman. She tells Rebecca that The Wizard of Oz is her favorite movie. Despite her efforts, Rebecca rebuffs Ferelith's offers of friendship and scurries away.

The rector continues his story from the year 1798. He welcomes Dr. Barrieux into his home, and in return receives an invitation to dine at Winterfold Hall the next day. He ends up spending a sleepless night plagued with visions of Hell.

Back in modern times, Rebecca's world seems pretty grim. Her boredom is unbearable. Should she watch The Wizard of Oz, the only movie she can find in the house? She can't imagine her father buying it for her. Where did it come from? As Rebecca ponders this mystery, Ferelith appears, with a disturbing tale about the filming of the movie. And somehow Rebecca finds herself in an unsettling new friendship that can only bode ill.

WHITE CROW is a dark, brooding fever-dream nightmare of a page-turner combining elements of horror, gothic, thriller and supernatural fiction. It ponders how good and evil are rewarded in the afterlife while dishing up some stunning plot twists and turns. While the story is blackly captivating, there's just one way to describe the ending: simply brilliant.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on July 5, 2011

White Crow
by Marcus Sedgwick

  • Publication Date: July 5, 2011
  • Genres: Horror
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • ISBN-10: 1596435941
  • ISBN-13: 9781596435940