This spring I listened to the audiobook presentation of Impossible by Nancy Werlin, a young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl whose maternal line has been cursed by an evil elfin knight so that each generation becomes pregnant at seventeen and – unless she can solve the knight’s impossible riddle before she gives birth – forfeits her sanity to him. This sounds like kind of an odd set-up, but the story was quite good. Werlin states on her website that it was inspired by the ballad, “Scarborough Fair” (which the narrator sings this hauntingly throughout her performance of the novel).
Lucy Scarborough is one of a long line of Scarborough women who have gone insane and dropped out of their daughters’ lives. Lucy has two big advantages over her forebears, however: she has her mother Miranda’s diary, written while she was pregnant with Lucy, and she has support. Her foster parents are still in touch with Miranda, to the extent that they can be and they are willing to help Lucy when her time comes to need help. Lucy also has a childhood friend-cum-love interest named Zach who is willing to risk life and limb to make sure this time the curse does not triumph.
One thing that is interesting about this book is that, in a time of paranormal glut, the “hero” is a fairly ordinary human boy who is kind, loyal, and very smart, but not in any way supernaturally powerful. The elfin knight is the guy with all the powers, and he is very definitely the bad guy; Lucy is repulsed by him from the beginning.
Here is a video of Nancy Werlin explaining about her history of reading romance novels and why she made her hero a good guy and not a bad boy: