If Dumas pere were alive today, he would still be Prince of the Potboilers. Here is a tale, never before translated into English, of ghosts and godliness, of rosy-cheeked virgins and dark-visaged villains, every bit as florid and swashbuckling as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. The House of von Eppstein is cursed with a dire secret: the women of the family who die on Christmas Eve actually remain half-alive, returning when it suits their purpose on the anniversary of their death. On such a night, lovely Albina is killed during childbirth by her vicious husband, Count Maximilian von Eppstein, who believes the baby is not his. The boy, Everard, is brought up by the wife of a forester, whose daughter Rosamund, is born on the same day. Albina, still "half alive," assures Everard of her love, her voice emanating from a tree in a secret grotto. From time to time, she also frightens Maximilian out of his wits with her corporeal presence, but can never dissuade him from the practice of evil, including his towering rages over the love that develops between Rosamund and Everard. Clumsy though the translation, Dumas's rollicking plot and wild imagination compel the reader to suspend disbelief.