Maiden of the Mist: A Legend of Niagara Falls


32 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-7737-6207-8
DDC j398.2'089'9755




Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T


As the author writes in a note, this tale has been part of the mythology
surrounding Niagara Falls for over 150 years, yet some modern scholars
view it as an invention spawned by the tourist trade. Charles researched
the legend and found that it fuses two cultures, European and Iroquois.
Her retelling features a strong heroine who freely chooses to go over
the falls in a birchbark canoe in order to heal the mysterious sickness
that is afflicting her people.

The powerful illustrations of Lelawala amid the roiling waters of the
falls are both beautiful and terrifying. The chieftain’s daughter
feels a gentleness in these waters. Before long, she finds herself in a
cave behind the falls with a young man kneeling beside her. He is the
son of Hinu, the god whom Lelawala’s people mistakenly fear is angry
with them. The maiden advises her father in a dream to go with his
warriors and kill the monstrous snake who is harming the tribe. The tale
ends with the chieftain sitting alone by the falls, hearing his
daughter’s voice in the waters’ sound. In a closing note, Charles
interprets the legend as a tale of victory over evil, and the heroine as
the embodiment of courage and compassion.

Maiden of the Mist is a fine book, but because some children in its
intended target audience might well be frightened by some of the
beautiful but horrific illustrations, the book is recommended with


Charles, Veronika Martenova., “Maiden of the Mist: A Legend of Niagara Falls,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,