12-year-old Phoenix goes to stay at the mysterious house his mother (who has recently died) has left his father – a house they knew nothing about, which exists in its own stormy micro climate, defying the summer heat in which the surrounding countryside is basking. Warned not to visit the burial mound just beyond the garden, Phoenix and his cousin Rose stumble upon the reason for his mother’s silence about the house and discern what took place there in her childhood. Their attempts to set things right succeed after encountering the spirits which haunt the place.
Very readable, with shades of William Mayne’s Earthfasts, the story shows how Phoenix’s desperation to understand his mother’s past helps him begin his own journey to acceptance, helped by his developing friendship with Rose. I found the ending somewhat abrupt and a little unsatisfying, but it doesn’t detract unduly from this enjoyable if undemanding read.