Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Word Count: 69K
Lark Bleecker has always been drawn to her family’s hometown of Warnsveld, New York-- mainly because her parents were so determined to keep her away from it. Now that her aunt is dead, her parents seem happy to return to the quaint, colonial Dutch town, but twelve-year-old Lark’s beginning to think they had it right the first time.
Determined to uncover the secret of what Aunt Bette did to make her parents flee their home, Lark pursues Tavish, the strange boy who peers in her window at night. He doesn’t seem bound by the usual rules of parents, school or law, and she’s sure he knows more than he’s telling.
Tavish leads Lark to the source of her family’s troubles: a rag-tag band of Dutch folk heroes and fairytale characters who call themselves the Verlorenen, “Forlorn Ones”. They followed her ancestors to Warnsveld in the seventeenth century, and she’s uncovered the parasitic way of life they've kept secret ever since. Now Lark knows that Aunt Bette may not have been crazy-- she may not have been the real Aunt Bette. And if Lark doesn’t defeat the Verlorenen’s schemes, she’ll never be sure about the other founding families of Warnsveld, either. Including her friends, her family-- and herself.
“It’s a bad country if no one finds gain.” Of all the proverbs Lark heard owl-eyed Spiegel utter later, that was the one that rang true. No matter how many things went wrong, some things went right-- that was what she thought it meant.
She could live with that, because for her the right things turned out to be important things. But they did have a habit of happening in batches. She’d been in Warnsveld a week and not met anyone, and then in the same twenty-four hours there was one boy on the stoop, and another at her second-story window. But the boy on the stoop came first.
“Your pod is open,” he said, when she opened the door.
“What?” asked Lark, who couldn’t hear him over the din of her mother’s world music station. She stepped out and pulled the door shut behind her.
“I said, your storage pod is open. Out back.”
Lark clapped a hand to her forehead. “We left that open? My mom would freak if she saw. Half our stuff is still in there.”
“I figured. My dad tried to call, but no one answered,” said the boy.
“Really?” Lark said. “I wonder why we didn’t hear it ring.” She held the door open so he could feel the pulse of the drums, bass and wild skirling instruments. Was her mother singing? Horrors.