Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The Cryptid Files: Loch Ness by Jean Flitcroft #WitchWeek23 #NovNov23

🦕 It's been four years since Vanessa's mother died, and unlike her twin brothers Luke and Ronan, who's getting on with life nicely, Vanessa's heart is still gripped with anger and grief she's unable to cope with. Her father's growing intimacy with his girlfriend Lee doesn't make it any easier. Now her father's proposing a family holiday in Scotland, which Vanessa would've accepted gratefully, if his father hadn't mentioned that Lee is coming too. Not only coming along, she realized later on that they are staying at her house! What a preposterous idea!

🦕 On the other hand, visiting Scotland would be exciting for the twelve year old Vanessa. She might be able to complete her mother's search about Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. Like her late mother, Vanessa is fascinated with this Cryptid creature. She has even met Nessie in her dream when she's fainted near the bank of the loch.

🦕 When she's taking the boat to the loch alone (her father and Lee, who had promised to take her, don't show up), the boat overturned, and Vanessa is drowning into the deep dark water. When she's awake, she finds herself lying in a sort of cave. Inside her head she hears a soothing voice telling her to scrape moss from the wall under the cave, and eat it! Strange as it is, Vanessa eats the moss anyway, and just like the voice said, it makes her stronger, and enable her to swim deep in the water without breathing air: "Swim down deep enough and you'll find me" said the voice. And she swims on.

"She was aware now of a large shape glowing at a distance beyond her.... A huge object moved slowly towards her.... As it approached her, the glow grew more intense and the water warmer... She found herself face to face with large real-life eyes, only a couple of inches away from her. [...] 'Put your arms around my neck and I'll show you my Loch.'"

🦕 Vanessa did as she's told, and with that, a strange unlikely friendship between two creatures is cemented. Like Vanessa, Nessie had lost her mother when they came through the lock-gate many years ago. They were stuck, and couldn't come out to the sea. Nessie's mother crushed by boat when they swam under it while the water got shallow. That is what draws them together - that, and the fact that Vanessa believes in Nessie. And that believe, in turn, saved her from death. But how about returning up the land, back to her family? Could Nessie help Vanessa one more time?

🦕 This was unexpectedly a poignant and heartwarming novella. I have just lost my father three months ago, and I can imagine how hard it would have been for a twelve year old girl to cope with losing her mother. The safety and comfort of having a mother is too acute for teenage girl at that age. Though it is a fantasy story, I'm so relieved that Vanessa found Nessie's presence soothing. It might not replace a mother's love, but at least it might soothe her wounded heart a little. From then on Vanessa would be able to accept the lost of her mother, but from time to time she might perhaps relapse into sadness when something reminds her of her mother. Well, at least that's what I've been having with my late father...

🦕 I loved how each chapter starts with snippets of articles about Nessie's history and sightings. It helps elevating Nessie into the spotlight. Unlike some stories where Nessie are indicated in titles or subtitles only but her role is insignificant, this story keeps a nice balance between the humans and monster. Nessie here isn't a cute childish creature, but graceful and elusive, worthy of its legendary status.

🦕 On the whole, it is a middle grade fantasy that also touches a sensitive issue of grief, told poignantly to remind us about the true value of love, family, and friendship. It is short but wholesome, fantastic but down to earth.

Favorite quotes:

   "Life without adventure is no life at all."

   "There's nothing like imagination to get you through life."

Rating: 5 / 5

I read this book for:

hosted by Chris @ Calmgrove & Lizzie @ Lizzie Ross

hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books & Rebecca @ Bookish Beck


  1. What an interesting novella, and an intriguing review! Thanks for drawing attention to it – I'll add a link to an additional catalogue at the end of Witch Week, depending on how many other reviews on the theme appear before then. Thanks for joining in, I shall have to investigate this title more!

    1. Thanks, Chris, for hosting this event, without which I would probably have never found this amazing book!

  2. Gotta love anything about the Loch Ness monster! And her trying to cope with her mother's death and finding friendship with Nessie sounds very touching.

    1. I've probably first learned about Nessie from Tintin's adventure in Black Island (if I remember the title correctly), and have fascinated with the creature ever since. So, this was a chance to visit "her" and read a story that related to my own feeling.

  3. It sounds like this book touched you deeply Fanda - I hope it helped a little with your own time of grieving.
    I loved this line "Nessie here isn't a cute childish creature, but graceful and elusive, worthy of its legendary status." It's how I imagine Nessie too :-)

    1. It did, Brona! It helped a little too, I guess. :)


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