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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 243

Melusine is, as its subtitle suggests, a "mystery," and each of its short chapters raises questions that keep the reader wondering what will happen next or how a bizarre occurrence will be explained. Melusine is also a bit of a fantasy in that a number of unlikely events occur. Despite this, Banks deals with several serious subjects in her book.
Essentially, Melusine is the story of a twelve or thirteen-year-old English boy's two-week-long vacation at a mysterious decaying chateau about an hour's drive inland from the city of La Rochelle on southwestern France's Atlantic coast. Visiting with his father, mother, and twin younger sisters, the boy, Roger, becomes increasingly curious about Melusine, the strange and sometimes secretive daughter of the estate's impoverished owner, Monsieur Serpe. As he and Melusine become friends, Roger finds more and more to be curious about. Why is she so afraid of her father? What has happened to her older sister? What takes place in the various chateau rooms whose doors remain locked? What is hidden in the building's ancient but inaccessible tower? What explanation lies behind Melusine's cold skin, snakelike eyes, and uncanny physical abilities (at one point, she dives into a canal to save one of Roger's sisters from drowning—without getting her clothes wet!)?

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As Roger becomes increasingly involved in Melusine's life, he becomes increasingly involved in the various moral questions surrounding that life, most especially questions about her unsettling relationship with her gruff, ogre-like father.

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