Lost Child of Lychford is sequel to Witches of Lychford (reviewed here), a short, suspenseful novel of three ladies working to thwart demonic plans to break the barriers that protect our world. The three ladies managed to defeat the demon but there are many worlds and many entities who threaten ours. We meet two more in Lost Child of Lychford.
The lost child in the title is a toddler who originally appears as a ghost to Lizzie, who is the Lychford vicar cum apprentice border protector. Lizzie must find within herself the strength to save the child and her town and her friends from the latest evil entities.
In some ways Lost Child is less powerful than Witches because we don’t really see how the new evil entities (again masquerading as people) manage to exert so much control over the three women. It just happens, and all the while the three are dimly aware something is wrong but cannot save themselves. Autumn, who was the weakest character in Witches, is stronger here but she still felt more like a character than a person.
Since we’re reading a fantasy suspense novel and not a crime whodunit, Cornell can get away with sparse explanations, providing just enough of a frame that we can suspend disbelief and go along with the story. Still I would have preferred a little more meat on Lizzie’s story since she was being led to perform horrors in her church upon a child. It was just a bit unsatisfying.
The ending was interesting because Lizzie manages to save herself with help from the ghost whom she had befriended. Because she had been kind to the ghost child earlier, the ghost was able to give her back the strength to push off the control. Judith later explains that Lizzie used the little boy ghost as a battery, storing kindness and goodness, then withdrawing when needed. I love that metaphor.
Lost Child of Lychford is even shorter than Witches of Lychford, about 133 pages. That’s the size of a long novella and I do wish Cornell would tie these stories together into one satisfying novel. Reading these short books is a little like eating appetizers for dinner.
Overall the novel is well written with strong mood contrasts and good dialogue. Characterization is moderately good with Lizzie confronting her own faith (or lack of it) with stress of her first Christmas as the vicar, while Autumn looks for romance and Judith deals with her own ghost.
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