A sophisticated, interactive alphabet tale in which even the letters break the expected pattern. Thirteen rhyming couplets spin the story of two siblings and their pet gazelle who sneak past their father, board a small boat, and follow a stream into a mysterious underworld to search for a treasure. Skillful narrative and visual storytelling combine to present a complex adventure that unravels through multilayered text and illustrations, challenging readers to ponder the numerous levels of plot. When the sister is tempted ashore by villains holding candy and captured, her brother follows in hot pursuit, rushing through a labyrinth realm filled with pirates, monsters, trolls, and other fearsome creatures. Youngsters can mull over questions about the nature of the treasure seeking (the cache turns out to be pretty unappealing) and why W precedes V in the alphabet sequence ("warnings" before "vile deeds"). The gothic illustrations, done in sepia tones and faded color washes, ensure that readers remain riveted throughout the story, since there are spine-chilling details at every turn. Images of objects beginning with the letter featured on the page add to the fun. This is the right book for those who find satisfaction and pleasure in creepy and sinister tales.