Had to pull out this old gem for a re-read! It’s one of my favorites in the Barbara Michaels / Elizabeth Peters collection, brimming over with all my most beloved elements: a young female protagonist, unconventional relatives, an enormous, rambling old house complete with a menagerie of ill-behaved pets, fateful secrets, flawless characters, and of course, a few resident ghosts.
Ellie has come to her irascible Aunt Kate’s home in rural Virginia to house-sit while said Aunt Kate takes a brief vacation. Ellie just has to inhabit the house, water the plants, and take care of Kate’s veritable stable of pets, including dogs, cats, and one rat named after a local politician. On her very first night in the old house alone Ellie has an unwelcome spectral visitor, and from that moment forward, nothing is quite as it seems. The library is vandalized, more ghostly figures appear, and the apparently rich and scandalous past of some of the town’s most distinguished inhabitants re-awakens to shake up the present. Ellie feels a little out of her league, and so ropes in various friends and neighbors to help her figure out what’s going on as genuine danger seems to be closing in.
We all want an Aunt Kate, or at least I do! She’s the perfect picture of the kind of eccentricity that’s cozy rather than creepy, and her skill at witchcraft – or at least the rumor of it, which is as good as the real thing, around these parts! - is as much a part of her as her obsession with the Washington Redskins. Technically she’s away for much of the story, but her character is very much a part of it. Ted, Dr. Gold, Don, the Grants, Miss Mary and the other characters fill out their parts with gusto, adding wonderfully to the atmosphere.
Always a pleasure, Miss Peters/Michaels/Mertz!
All my book reviews: <a href=http://bloody-keri.livejournal.com/tag/b(xposted)
ook+reviews>Keri's Book Reviews</a>