From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5–8—A 12-year-old girl is running through the woods with no memory of who she is or why she is running. Her identity is up for speculation throughout the book: Is she a princess? An animal turned into a human? The missing daughter of a couple in the village? All of these possibilities seem to revolve around an old witch who escaped the village mob with a baby the same day the girl appeared in the woods. The woman and her husband are convinced that the girl is their missing Isabelle, taken from the village by the witch six years earlier, but their older daughter, Honey, is skeptical and even hostile in her reaction. As the tale unfolds, some even suspect that the youngster is actually a creation of the old hag who was sent for evil purposes, and Isabelle wonders whether she really wants to know the truth. This is a solid fantasy and mystery that builds in intrigue and suspense as more layers are added to the story. The protagonist's true identity comes as a fantastic surprise and will have readers looking back for clues even as they shudder at the chain of events that brought about her appearance in the woods that fateful day. Like the witch, Vande Velde weaves a spell around her readers with this well-written tale.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
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The day the old witch’s cottage is burned by villagers, a child who doesn’t know her own identity appears at Avis and Browley’s door, and the couple takes her in. Convinced that she is Isabelle, a little girl that the witch had stolen six years before, Avis and Browley send word to Isabelle’s parents that their child is alive. Isabelle’s mother, Mady, is certain that the mysterious girl is her long-lost daughter. Father Frayne is hopeful, too, but bitter older sister Honey is skeptical. Surely this 12-year-old whom others claim to be Isabelle is an imposter! Twists and turns abound as Isabelle’s true identity is revealed and her life increasingly endangered. Vande Velde, noted for her well-crafted riffs on fairy tales, has written her darkest yet, a story of greed, jealousy, and insidious evil that will haunt the reader for some time to come. Grades 6-10. --Frances Bradburn