cover image A Haunted Year

A Haunted Year

Ann Phillips. MacMillan Publishing Company, $14.95 (175pp) ISBN 978-0-02-774605-1

Fantasy and reality are seamlessly combined for the protagonist of Phillips's ( Multiplying Glass ) oddly entertaining novel, a ghost story in which polite society and psychological realities are at odds. When Florence Gage, a motherless girl from a wealthy British family, is lonely one day, she conjures up a playmate--George, a dead relative she knows very little about. But after her initial thrill at the novelty, Florence finds that George not only won't go away when she wants him to, but also that he reputedly drowned girls when he was alive. Set in 1910-1911, A Haunted Year is most effective in its portrayal of the quirky ways in which the rationalistic British upper class handles the uncanny--Florence, troubled by the appearance of George, is often told to ``take a little rest''--and in its depiction of Florence's private feelings of attraction to and repulsion at George. Less consistent is the portrayal of George as a truly scary, threatening presence. A sometimes unsettling commingling of the two worlds of childhood and adulthood. Ages 9-13. (Apr.)