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Review: Wait For What Will Come

Wait For What Will Come by Barbara Michaels. Originally published in 1978. Image from HarperCollins ebook edition, 2009.

The Plot: Carla Tregellas is just another hardworking American when the lawyer contacts her to tell her the news: as the last member of the Tregellas family, she has inherited an old mansion in Cornwall. Carla, in her mid twenties, is very practical. She’ll use her summer vacation to go and see her inheritance and take care of getting it sold. There is no question of keeping it: she has little money, and the mansion comes with some land and the house, of course, but nothing else, really. Common sense says sell it and sell it quickly.

Things change when Carla is in Cornwall; when she sees the mansion. When she feels a connection to the place, something she never thought she’d feel. That’s before she hears about that she inherited not just a building; she also inherited a curse. Is the curse to blame for the strange things that start happening? Or is someone trying to drive her out, to force her to sell?

The Good: I was sad to hear that Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara G. Mertz) died this summer, so decided to read one of her books that I hadn’t read before. Then, given how Barbara Michaels = Gothic I had to post the review on Halloween. I selected Wait For What Will Come because BookRiot called it one of her best.

Wait For What Will Come has everything I want and expect in a Michaels’ book.

There’s the sudden inheritance! While Carla’s family has been in the United States for generations, the branch back in Cornwall didn’t do very well. The money’s gone and with the death of Walter Tregellas an heir had to be found. Carla is that heir! Or, rather, “the nearest surviving blood relative who still bore the family name.” I love discovering you’re a secret heiress. Bonus in that you never knew the person who died so it’s grief free. What a disappointment to a younger me to look at all my many relatives and realize that I could never be a long lost heiress.

Of course, Carla being the heiress isn’t a happy ending; or, rather, a happy beginning. No money left, house in terrible shape — BUT DID I MENTION IT’S A MANSION THAT IS HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD. At first Carla is all “she may as well have a look at it before it went out of the family forever,” but then Carla begins to realize that hey, how many times do you get a MANSION THAT IS HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD and so keeps postponing leaving and selling.

There is a — love rhombus? Let’s just say, there are multiple handsome young men falling over each other for Carla. The family lawyer, Alan Fairman. The local doctor, Simon Tremuan. The housekeeper’s grandson, Mike Penkowsky. Later on, Mike’s friend, Timothy O’Hara, stops by.

Then there are the various Cornish legends and myths that are mentioned and explained, including the Tregellas family curse! A FAMILY CURSE. A “sacrifice to the sea” must be made every 200 years. GUESS GUESS GUESS WHETHER THE 200 YEARS ARE UP. And that sacrifice is linked to demon lovers. Or dream lovers. Or both.

I love that it’s a curse that is every 200 years, because that is just enough time to have no idea what really, actually happened. I mean, it’s not like it’s within any type of living memory.

Wait For What Will Come weaves together a bit soap opera, a bit historical myth, some modern concerns about what to do with a building one may love but cannot afford, some mixed motives from the locals, all haunted by the possibility of the supernatural. Is the curse real? Is there a family ghost? Is there a realistic explanation to all that is happening, or is it a fantastical reason?

I thoroughly enjoyed Wait For What Will Come. But here’s my problem: other than Ammie, Come Home and Stitches in Time I don’t remember which Barbara Michaels books I’ve read. So, recommendations welcome!



About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Oh, me, too! Can’t remember which ones I’ve read. I guess I just have to read them all again.

  2. I have a hard time keeping track of Barbara Michaels’s books too. But I do know that I am very fond of Shattered Silk (comes in between Ammie Come Home and Stitches in Time), and also of Smoke and Mirrors (the one where they’re all involved in politics) and Into the Darkness (the one with the antique jewelry). Such good comfort reads.

    • Elizabeth Burns says

      If Shattered Silk is part of those books (not quite a trilogy, but overlapping characters) then I did read it.

      I’ll look for SMOKE and DARKNESS.

  3. I loved her House of Many Shadows and Prince of Darkness; the former rivals Ammie Come Home in my affections. I also enjoyed the humor in her Legend in Green Velvet, which she wrote as Elizabeth Peters.

  4. Thanks for reminding me about her. My favorites are Shattered Silk and Stitches in Time. Interesting history, intriguing mystery, and a nice touch of supernatural. I’m glad see there are more out there that I’ve missed. Her Vicky Bliss and Amelia Peabody series are great fun, too.

    • Elizabeth Burns says

      I haven’t read the Vicky Bliss, and I read and enjoyed the first few Amelia Peabody ones (and feel like the makers of the first Mummy movie had to have read those books!)

  5. Well you’ve hooked me. I think I might have read some of her books years ago. I am getting “Wait for What Will Come” asap.