Her parents call in a Doctor as Teo keeps seeing things and has a headache. He insists upon talking her to the hospital and that’s where everything begins to go terribly wrong. First a wooden statue moves and bleeds terrifying everyone, and then Teo goes missing.
There are posters all over Venice alerting people to the Lost Girl. But Teo is not lost or missing, she has become invisible to adults, fallen between the lines. The book begins to talk to her, guide her around Venice, begins to teach her the real city and the great threat to it. Everywhere there are posters stating
Gone Missing Teodora Stampara, 11 years old from Naples curling dark hair, green eyes, slight build, a large bruise on her forehead.
But Teo spots Maria with a young man with a suspicious mole on his head and a gleaming bewitching emerald. She suspects the young man of being evil but has no proof. Maris is in more danger than she knows but is captivated by the jewels and trinkets the young man gives her.
Teo has to learn to survive by stealing food and eventually she meets the boy Renzo who condescends to speak to her, despite her being from Naples and eventually she shares The Key to the City with him.
Renzo is the son of a Gondolier and is very proud of Venice and fearful of it drowning. Everywhere there are leaflets warning of trouble and that no one must trust the Mayor. No one knows who is printing them. The Mayor says Venice is safe but Renzo tells her children everywhere are dying of plague and being buried at night so the tourists don’t see the families grieving.
Together with the aide of the book they meet the mermaids below the House of Spirits and discover their purpose. Lussa, the beautiful Queen of Mermaids and her kin, have been waiting for the Undrowned Child and the Studious Son for a long time. They enlist their help to defeat the awakening monster below and the evil Bajamonte Tiepolo who once tried to destroy Venice in 1310 and has awoken and wants to try again. TAlong the way they also discover that Maria is a traitor and she is being turned into a dwarf!
The Undrowned Child is a fantastic tale, rich in detail, complex, scary and Teo and Renzo make a fine couple battling all, risking life and limb for a city they love. Along the way the history of Venice unfolds and we meet astonishing creatures, flying Syrian cats and the massed forces of evil gathering to murder every living soul in Venice.
(A word of warning though - the sequel set in London is not a patch on this)