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A Coming Evil Paperback – September 3, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Paperback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; Reprint edition (September 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618747818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618747818
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,257,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-This well-written novel combines two periods in French history-the 1940s and the early 1300s. Lisette Beaucaire, 13, is sent to live in the country with her aunt, since food is scarce in Paris, which is overrun by German soldiers. Although she dreads spending time with her bratty cousin Cecile, Lisette is even more dismayed to discover that her aunt is hiding Jewish and gypsy children from the Nazis. As Lisette and the children practice what to do if the Nazis arrive unexpectedly, she begins to understand the seriousness of the situation. Then she encounters the ghost of Gerard, a young knight who died in 1314. At first he is merely a spirit but gradually he becomes solid and real-and a friend. In an exciting climax, Gerard helps Lisette save the younger children from the Nazis. The conclusion leads readers to ponder the future of the characters. The plot moves briskly and Vande Velde does a good job of creating the war-time atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Lisette is a sympathetic and believable character. However, the comparison between the persecution of the Jews and gypsies by Hitler and the Knights Templar (Gerard's order) by King Philip IV is a bit of a stretch and may not be the best example to help readers understand the Holocaust. (Among other things, the Knights Templar, a powerful group of monks known for fighting in the Crusades, was not particularly tolerant of Jews or other "infidels.") Still, this fast-paced adventure raises some interesting issues.
Cyrisse Jaffee, formerly at Newton Public Schools, MA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5^-9. The author of numerous fantasies (most recently The Changeling Prince [1998]) and fairy tale adaptations (Tales from the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird [1995]) tries a more realistic setting in her latest offering. Parisian 13-year-old Lizette is sent to live with her aunt in German-occupied rural France in the fall of 1940. There she meets Gerard, the ghost of a fourteenth-century Templar knight, who was murdered by King Phillip IV in 1314. As she learns more about Gerard and the evils of his time, she comes to understand the true dangers of the Nazi occupation, and the importance of helping her aunt hide several Jewish and Gypsy children. Velde's melding of fantasy with historical fiction is generally successful, and her comments about the similarities between these two historical periods are well taken. Less convincing are the characters' motivations: Why does Aunt Josephine risk everything to take in five orphaned children? Why does Gerard, whose apparitional form has appeared to villagers for generations, suddenly become a live human being again after meeting Lizette? Despite these flaws, the narrative flows well and should appeal to readers, especially fans of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988). Kay Weisman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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This is my favourite of all the Vivian Vande Velde books I've read so far...and that's saying something!
M. A. Bechaz
There is a lot in the plot which makes it realistic fiction except for a character of a ghost, a Tectonic Knight from the 14th Century.
Lynn Ellingwood
While reading the book, it was almost as though Vivian Vande Velde was just making illogical things happen to service the plot.
Jennifer Mo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Lisette hopes the year she turns thirteen will be the best year of her life. Unfortunately for her, the year she turns thirteen is 1940, when the Nazis are in France. On September first, her birthday, her parents send her away to live with her Aunt Josephine in the country because they think she will be safer there than in Paris. Lisette is not happy about going there, partly because she thinks here parents don't want her, and partly because she hates her cousin, Cecile. When she arrives at Aunt Josephine's house, she finds out her aunt is hiding Jews and Gypsies and there is a ghost in the woods. I liked this book because the story is told with a lot of detail. When you read this book, you almost feel like you are there with the characers in the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Bechaz on September 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is my favourite of all the Vivian Vande Velde books I've read so far...and that's saying something! I loved it. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. I really felt for Lisette and the awful situation she found herself in, being sent away during wartime without her parents, banished to the south of France to live with not only her aunt, but also her bratty control-freak of a cousin and a motley collection of strange children that her aunt had given refuge to. It seemed to her as if her life could not get any worse...and yet it did, and she was forced to take action...

Lisette is a wonderful, brave, intelligent heroine who I found utterly believable and likeable. The other characters in the book are similarly realistic, multi-dimensional and compelling, and in the end, even the bratty cousin was redeemed by her bravery and compassion for others. These are ordinary people being forced to deal with extraordinary situations, and the author never loses sight of their human strengths and weaknesses. Such was the utter realism of this story that I had no trouble accepting the paranormal side of this tale--a ghost coming to life through his interaction and friendship with Lisette.

I liked the way the author made comparisons between the way the Knights Templar were treated in medieval times, and the way the people of France were treated by the Nazis. It's a stirring reminder that even though centuries may pass, unfortunately people don't necessarily learn from the mistakes and injustices of history...the fight for freedom, for religious and racial tolerance, and for human rights is an ongoing one, even in today's society.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mo VINE VOICE on December 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Vivian Vande Velde turned away from her usual fantasy to produce a sort of ghost story set in WW2. A Coming Evil, while a very readable book, had a number of plot flaws that prevented it from being an excellent one.
The plotting around Gerard is especially weak. His unexpected return to life with the appearance of Lisette was given no logical reason and his 'archaic' speech seemed particularly inaccurate. While reading the book, it was almost as though Vivian Vande Velde 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, VVV is excellent at creating the right atmosphere, and the WW2 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jess on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Now almost 18, I can still remember taking this book out from my library every week as a 10 and 11-year-old. The juxtaposition of World War II and the Crusades, the relationship between Lisette and Gerard, and the wonderful period details about both eras always kept me coming back for more.

The story is so unique that I remembered it eight years later, and googled some key terms in order to find the title and author again. I thoroughly recommend it to any fan of historical fiction, as I was and still am, and anyone interested in studying World War II and the Holocaust NOT from a Jewish perspective, as so often seems to be the case in young adult fiction these days.

The story of slightly spoiled Lisette (who eventually matures with the help of Gerard the ghost and the presence of the Jewish and Gypsy children in her aunt's home) and her experiences during World War II really rang true, despite the clearly fictional pretense of a ghost in the backyard! I remember being struck by the concept of what it must have been like to be an everyday person in World War II--not a Nazi, and not a victim, but a bystander--and how difficult it must have been to decide whether or not to take action.

The history of the Knights of Templar is also interesting, and while I remember finding it less compelling than the events of the "present day", it definitely adds to the dimension of the book. I truly recommend this book to any history buff, fan of ghost stories, or even fans of simple coming-of-age stories--"A Coming Evil" has all of that and more.
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By Tiffany on March 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved the fact that 2 people from different times meet and help each other learn about each other's worlds
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