The book is written from the point of view of Barney, who I guess is about 10 or 11 years old and feels that he is being haunted by his mysterious Great Uncle Cole, whom he has never met. He is frightened as any child would be and Mahy really manages to convey his fear with ease. I actually felt like a child whilst reading it and it took me back to the ghost stories of my childhood, such as The Haunting of Cassie Palmer by Vivien Alcock.
Barney confides in his sister, Tabitha, who is shocked by the changes occurring in Barney. She makes it her business to try and solve why this is happening to Barney by approaching her Great Uncles to see if they can help. The book takes a surprising turn which I really didn't see coming, even though I know it wouldn't be a straightforward ending.
Mahy is excellent at providing the reader with a real understanding of family life. Her writing is thoughtful and she shows the children of today as they really are. You could easily step into Barney's shoes and understand why he behaved the way he did. I loved this modern family and I found myself easily able to picture them in their home.
This may be a children's book, but I would definitely recommend adult's reading it. Such a thin book, yet packed full to the brim with suspense, mystery and fear.