The Eyes Of The Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt
This book was in a small stack of used children’s books my mom passed along to me from some book sale. I started with this one because Natalie Babbitt is also the author of the beloved Tuck Everlasting. Published in 1977, The Eyes Of The Amaryllis is a surprisingly haunting ghost story. Seward’s fate, and the fate of the lost sailors, is grandly spooky. Turns out the sea is a harsh mistress, even after death – it’s actually a little unsettling how tragic their afterlives are. Chills go up my back when I think of Seward, who (highlight to read spoilers) committed suicide in the sea over unrequited love, being bound to walk the beaches eternally preventing drowned sailors from sending back mementos and messages to their loved ones on shore.
This is a children’s ghost story that will creep the bejeezus out of adults.
The brig Amaryllis and all her crew were swallowed in a hurricane. For thirty years the captain’s widow, Geneva Reade, has grown old waiting and combing the beach, certain that her husband will send her a message from the bottom of the sea. Someone else is waiting, too, and watching her, a man named Seward whom Geneva knew as Nicholas in happier days, before the Amaryllis was lost. Into this seeming-mad and haunted situation comes another Geneva, called Jenny, the widow’s granddaughter, to stay with her in her house on the beach. The three of them, Gran, Jenny, and Seward, are drawn into a deadly game with one another and with the sea, a game that only the sea knows how to win.