Triss is on holiday with her family when she falls into a pond and wakes up the next morning feeling strange. Most notably, she has an insatiable appetite. Plus, her dolls seem to be moving, and her little sister, Pen, can’t stand the sight of her (although that’s not entirely new, it seems worse than ever). Her family’s already under strain, having lost their eldest son, Sebastian, in World War I, and Triss’s health was already delicate before this new crisis. It’s a lot, and Triss, only 13 years old, is at a loss about what to do.
This book by Frances Hardinge is enjoyably creepy, but with a sweetness in the end that keeps in from feeling unbearably dark. In fact, a lot of the horror is confined to the earliest pages, as Triss tries to figure out what’s going on. Once Triss teams up with Violet, Sebastian’s fiancée, the book feels more like an adventure story, with scary monsters to avoid but less of the unease that makes horror stories so potent (for me, anyway). And the book has a pleasing sweetness that grows and grows throughout the book to become downright heart-warming by the end.