A group of boys on a Scottish island accidentally slip back in time to an age when the local lord conducts a Wild Hunt, with human prey, once a year. The boys, soon recognized as "strangers", must use their wits just to survive ... and, beyond that, to save the locals from this tyranny.
The tale is told at a cracking pace, and it's a great adventure story. But it's more impressive than that. McCracken has the knack of portraying children the way they really are, not the way that doting adults would like to think sweet little kiddiewinkies are; this realism is refreshing. Also, he's doesn't flinch from some of the ghastlier consequences of his plot: for example, one of the boys is killed and another suffers torture. Because of this darker side to the book, the sense of involvement is hugely increased: the threats aren't just Tom & Jerry stuff but very real - something that will be hugely appreciated by young-adult readers, who get tired of being shielded by well meaning adults from the unpleasant truths of life that they can see in the newspapers.
But don't get the impression the book's just for young adults. At the grand old age of, er, fiftysomething I sat up late devouring it. Grand stuff!