Seventeen-year-old Francie’s theater audition in Manhattan is interrupted by an urgent phone call from her eccentric great-aunts. Cabin owners on Enchantment Lake in Minnesota’s North Woods are fighting about a road; the town real estate agent seems a little too excited about a potential condo development, and the bodies are piling up.
Francie rushes back to help, and is instantly thrust into a tangle of mysteries — one including a poisoned hot dish — and reminders of her childhood summers spent listening to the crack of fireworks in the night and “the smell of endless pines and lakes and granite.”
Duluth writer Margi Preus, author of the Newbery Honor book “Heart of a Samurai,” has an obvious love for Minnesota cabin culture — not to mention an understanding of the fragile economies of the regions’ small towns. Aquatic invasive species, copper deposits, logging, a blinking cellphone tower — they’re all here.
As are delicate descriptions of the landscape and gems such as this depiction of kayaking: “It was not so much being on the water as in it, almost like being part of the water — the way a duck or loon is, half the body submerged.”
As “Enchantment Lake” speeds toward its resolution, you’re surprised and sad your time at the lake is over.
ELIZABETH FOY LARSEN