by Selma Lagerlof. Translated by Arthur Chater.
Doubleday, Page & Co: 1925.
A very enjoyable book. Set in 16th century Sweden, it tells the tale of a brutal murder by villains, and how the only survivor, the ghosts of the victims, and the last person to see them alive avenge their murders. The plot twist is that the survivor, a 14-year old girl, falls in love with the leader of the villains. The leader is haunted by a ghost and is very remorseful; he falls in love with the girl. The witness is too cowardly to do much of anything.
It ends with the lovers hating each other, the girl kills herself so that the leader can get caught (he doesn’t) and the witness finally gets the courage to make a stand. The bad guys are eventually caught, and the girl is honored in/by her death.
This has all the aspects of a successful fairy tale: a fun yet dark & twisted plot; good characters; yet reads as easily as a young adult novel. Lots of neat setting details make this successful just as an historical novel.