When Heather Tradescent agrees to help the lord of Trotyan House restore the grounds, she gets more than she bargained for: an unassailable maze, tales of witchcraft, and a nasty murder. From a popular author with six New York Times best sellers to her name.
After some 25 novels, Michaels (Houses of Stone, 1993, etc. etc.) by now has got her routine down pat, and this latest is no different: It won't knock your socks off, but the intrigue just won't quit.
American schoolteacher Heather Tradescent's plan to travel to England to visit the country's historic gardens with her parents is cut short when the two die in a car accident. Heather, who was especially close to her father, is in her mid-20s and, now, virtually alone in the world. In an attempt to aid her emotional recovery and follow through on her father's desire to explore the gardens, she decides to make the trip by herself; with substantial insurance money in hand, she sets out on what is initially a very lonely journey. The trip proves so depressing, in fact, that she decides to return home after one last stop: Troytan House, an estate once owned by a man named Tradescent, who may have been her ancestor. The town, as Heather quickly discovers, is obsessed with a supposed case of witchcraft and, in particular, with a witch named "Old Demdike." When Heather finds her way into Troytan House by way of an overgrown, ominous maze, she, too, becomes swept up in the witchcraft craze. Troytan House's current owner, the wealthy and eccentric Frank Karim, persuades Heather that she should stay and help him restore the grounds to their former 17th- century glory; a garden-lover in her own right, Heather can't turn down the offer. Meanwhile, secondary characters are each more mysterious and unpredictable than the other: caretaker Sean; Frank's son Jordan; the next-door neighbors, the Betancourts and Frank's friend Jennetall know a good deal more about witching than they let on.
The supernatural stuff never gets silly or overblown, while Michaels's own subtle touch lends an effective air of spookiness to an intriguing study of a woman's coming into her own.