The narrative takes the form of a semi-regular journal kept by Harriet Barton. Harriet and her cousin Ada have recently lost their grandmother, who was also their guardian. Having run out of closer living relatives, they are sent to live with Mr. Wolfson, their very distant cousin, and his son Julian. Julian is pleasant, if not particularly bright, and assiduously courts the beautiful Ada. Mr. Wolfson is confined to a wheelchair, and his two wolf-like dogs follow him wherever he goes. Just as Harriet finds herself adjusting to their new home, she encounters a disturbance in the form of Francis Wolfson, the older, previously undisclosed son. The villagers and servants try to warn her about the Wolfson family, but she dismisses their concern as superstition, and determines to hold to her own judgments.
Francis, unlike his brother, seems uninterested in either girl, and finds his joy in stirring up trouble and turning the members of the house against one another. A band of gypsies and a handsome stable boy add complications when Ada is attacked on one of her daily rides, and the two dogs are a constant threatening presence. However, in good Barbara Michaels tradition, things are never as they seem, people’s motives are clouded, and Harriet soon discovers a dastardly plot to deprive both girls of their fortune and freedom.
The book is not long, but the plot doesn’t come across as worn or trite. Harriet’s character is very believable, and the story flows naturally from her eyewitness account. I found it a very pleasant for whiling away a few hours with a cup of tea. I rate it appropriate for 14 and older on the Aardvark scale due to frightening situations and violence.
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