Reading THE UNDROWNED CHILD, it is clear how much Lovric adores Venice. As another reviewer has said, the amount of research that has gone into this novel for children is fantastic - history (both imagined and true), architecture, art and politics all have mention within this enchanting tale. In fact, Lovric has done such a good job that, as you read, you really do feel as though you have been transported away to the canal-lined streets.
And while the plot has many similarities to the overall genre of children's literature - two children who originally clash have to learn to work togther despite their differences to overcome a great evil - there is plenty which makes this book original and new. The different classifications for ghosts, for example, are one way that Lovric has made something for herself. And with the character of the Butcher Biasio, his ghost is perhaps one of the most frightening that I have encountered for a long time.
The only thing which stopped me from awarding 5 stars was that, personally, I felt the chapters were too short. It often made the action feel a little rushed - Teo and Renzo faced mortal peril one minute and then the next something had miraculously happened which saved them. Yet despite this rushed feel to the pace of the book, it is actually just under 400 pages in length, so in a way this sense of rush is strange. While some aspects of the plot had just the right attention, there were others which could have had more.
Overall, this is a brilliant novel for younger adults. Not only does it feel steeped in magic, there is a good dose of history too. Reading it has made me want to go to Venice to see it for myself...