Deborah Tadema                                     

 Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Urban Thrillers, Fantasy and Historical Novels  Book Reviewer



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Bessie: The Monster in Lake Erie

Port Stanley has a feature that no other town on earth has; its own sea monster. Bessie lives in a cave on the other side of Picnic Hill and calls Lake Erie her home. Hidden from those who would harm her, yet close enough that her two keepers can come to her aid when she's in danger. Mason Brooks didn't realize that he was one of them until he met the man some would call the devil. Mason had inherited the ring, known as the blood stone, from his father. He had never been told about the powers it had or about the connection to Bessie.

Black Tom wears the second ring, called the sky ring. His sudden appearance keeps the people on edge, for there is no record of him prior to this summer. It soon becomes clear that Tom is mistreating Bessie, giving her meat when she's a vegetarian and injecting her with powerful drugs. There are several deaths out on the lake which Bessie is being blamed for. But no one can blame her for the murders that take place on Picnic Hill. Mason suspects Tom. Yet Tom knows how to beat the system and is never convicted of any of them. And Mason has to prove one thing...that Black Tom is not his brother.

The two rings need to work in harmony in order to keep Bessie alive. She eats the algae that grows in the lake and helps to balance the ecosystem. If she doesn't die a natural death Lake Erie will perish.

A Sneak Peek

     From beneath the waves, Bessie watched the man struggle, his face contorted in pain as he bounced off the hard clay rocks. Water splashed over him, pulling him under. Arms and legs flailed madly about. He coughed and braced for another wall of ice-cold water that came straight at him. Fingertips scratched at the packed gravel on the cliff wall. The lake took him under again. When he surfaced, he choked, spit out mouthfuls of water, waited for the next assault.

     The man managed to pull himself along the side of the cliff to the outer edge of the outcrop. From there, the lake opened up before him, the beach too far away. There was no fear in his eyes, just raw determination.

     Bessie crawled along the bottom to get a closer look. She had watched humans drown before. They were weak and tended to give up too soon. Not this man. He took several deep breaths, swam out past the clay rocks and rode the large swells. The man didn't get far when he stopped for a rest and shivered. She saw his breath in the wind. He hugged his side and winced at the hazy sun then tried again. She followed.

     Humans had poor eyesight. Bessie had been able to get right up next to them before they saw her. Shock and fear would appear on their faces. They'd panic. Some died.

     A huge wave grabbed the man and pulled him back out. She had lost him. Bessie skirted across the lake bottom in search for him. Waves thundered overhead. She found him again as he bobbed on the surface, eyes closed, head on his chest. He barely moved, barely breathed. She stopped and watched him and waited to see how long he would hang on.

     A wave crashed down in front of him, splashing his face, and jerked him awake. His eyes, the color of a cloudy sky, squinted down at her. She thought he had given up by this time, he looked tired. Or maybe he knew she was there because he moved closer; near her head and gawked at her with wide eyes.

     She did not breathe; did not flick her long tail. Nor did she blow bubbles. Could he see her this far under water, through the muck that the lake had stirred up? Did her big bulk cast a shadow that shimmered as she moved?     Bessie closed her eyes and waited, listening to the roar of the waves overhead. After several seconds, she opened them and watched him fight on. This time he seemed panicked, as if suddenly, he wanted to live. There was fear in his eyes now. He got caught in an undertow and was dragged down only to surface far out in the lake. He gasped for air and looked back at the shore. Did she read defeat in his eyes?

     His arms and legs didn’t have enough strength to keep him up anymore. Too exhausted to lift his head, he sank and was pulled out further. He had stopped his courageous fight. Bessie moved in close enough, so he could see her. His eyes were closed, his arms floating above his head as he drifted. She nudged him with her snout. There was no response. She pushed him toward the shore and lifted him up with her nose and rolled him onto the sand.