Never judge a book by its cover. Unless it is breathtakingly beautiful and has “P.J. Lynch” written on it. Then judge it as a ‘must have’ and take it home.
“The Haunted Lake”, this emerald beauty of a picture book was published by Walker Books in 2020. It tells a moving love story. Coincidentally or not, since classical antiquity the emerald has been known as a symbol of love, truth, protection and spiritual awareness. Ancient Romans considered it to be the gemstone of the goddess of love Venus. So the overarching colour scheme fits its storyline perfectly.
The main characters Jacob and Ellen first met as young kids. They were inseparable buddies throughout their childhood and as they grew so did their affections. One day Ellen declared that she would marry Jacob. “I’m too old for you, lass”, the boy responded. “You are fourteen and I’m an old man of nineteen.” Oh, blissful youth!
Jacob and his father were the only fishermen on Lake Spetzia, which people thought was haunted. The Lake has flooded an old village and hundreds of homes were buried beneath its beautiful emerald waters. Perhaps Jacob and Ellen should not have been so careless in dismissing it all as rumours. Barely had they decided to get married when Jacob disappeared, lured into the emerald underwater world. Lured by who though? Was he dead? Will Ellen ever meet her beloved again? Find out all the answers in this story of unwavering hope and strength, which proves yet again, that love conquers all.
The inspiration for “The Haunted Lake” story setting must have come from an actual lake in present-day Italy – Lake Resia – located close to the borders of Austria and Switzerland. A lone bell tower that shoots up from its green waters is a scenic view (on my ‘must-see’ list). It’s resemblance to bell tower on the “The Haunted Lake” cover is unmistakable?
This beautiful bell tower is the only surviving remnant of the village of Curon that vanished underwater in the 1950’s. The village was flooded to accommodate the building plans of a large power corporation that decided to join two natural lakes and create a giant artificial one, needed for building a hydroelectric plant in the area. Locals protested, but the big corporation won. Residents were displaced to new homes and the big build proceeded. Should we be surprised? Rumour has it that the church tower bells still ring, even though they were removed some 60 years ago. Rumour or not, this lays out a perfectly eerie and ghostly scenario for a picture book! This dramatic backdrop also provided the inspiration for a Netflix series called “Curon” (added to my ‘must-watch’ list).
Another fascinating piece of trivia I came across when researching for this post is that in May 2021, Lake Resia was temporarily drained to accommodate the repair works at the water reservoir, and in a reveal that some may describe as fit for Hollywood, the dilapidated traces of Curon village were exposed for the first time in more than 70 years. Check out the full BBC report on it.
Already a master illustrator of many acclaimed books, P.J. Lynch has now positioned himself as a master storyteller in “The Haunted Lake”. I believe that this is the first book that he has both written and illustrated. “The Haunted Lake” has already won the 2021 Honour Award for illustration in the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. He has previously received the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal from the British Library Association twice – in 1995 for “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”, written by Susan Wojciechowski and in 1997 for “When Jessie Came Across the Sea”, written by Amy Hest. P. J. Lynch has worked as a children’s book illustrator since leaving Brighton College of Art in England in the 1980s. “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” has sold more than a million copies and has been made into a movie. Not content with just illustrating books, this talented artist has also designed opera and theatre posters, some Irish stamps and created large murals and mosaic art. He also lectures on art and illustrations. Quite the overachiever you might say. Read more about his work at www.pjlynchgallery.com.
Check out my reviews of other books by P.J. Lynch here.
Enjoy browsing “The Haunted Lake” images below: