Haphazard House

Mary Wesley, Author Overlook Press $14.95 (156p) ISBN 978-0-87951-470-9
This gentle fantasy by the critically acclaimed author of adult novels gets off to a promising and appropriately fanciful start: on Derby Day, Lisa places a large bet (the entire proceeds of her artist father's sold-out show) on a horse running at 50-to-1 odds. Lisa's horse wins, of course, and her family uses their newfound fortune to purchase a dilapidated mansion located in a remote corner of the English countryside. But soon after their arrival, Lisa's family, their dog and their entourage (a few squatters and a toad-loving London traffic warden) realize that Haphazard House is haunted: the housework seems to get done by itself, a mysterious man appears and disappears, and the passage of time is anything but linear. These details are certainly delightfully shivery, but Wesley does not firmly anchor them to a substantial plot. Literal-minded readers, moreover, are likely to be frustrated by the rather fuzzy explanation given for the estate's uneasy position in the temporal world. Though its setting is easily as magical and romantic as the ancient manor in Lucy Boston's Green Knowe books, Wesley's story seems underdone. Occasional coy bits of dialogue (``You know, love, your manic exaggerations are a fearfully bad example to the children. More soup, Lisa?'') are at odds with the generally glittering language. Ages 12-up. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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