Lis London is moving to live with her sister in Hollow Pike. She desperately wants to escape from the bullies at her old school in Wales. Haunted by creepy dreams and bad memories, she can’t wait to have a fresh start and let go of the past. But her new school has secrets of its own. Beautiful queen bee Laura rules the school with an iron fist of gossip control that brings out the horror story in everyone’s social life. Lis is torn between trying to fit in with the popular clique and her intrigue with the school “freaks”, mixed race goth punk Kitty, her free spirited girlfriend Delilah and quiet Jack. To top it all off, Lis’ dreams are getting worse, black birds keep stalking her, and she doesn’t know what to do about dreamy Danny. The school goes into lockdown after a murder most horrid…are the rumours true, does Hollow Pike have a dark past steeped in witchcraft and witch hunts?
Together with two rather dry introductory essays—one about the origin of the story, the other about the background of vampires in Greek folkore—these documents add up to a slender 50 pages or so, frisking along the borders of the novella. Taken by itself, it is quite a short story and, understandably given its nearly 200-year ripeness, its style now seems rather faded and old-fashioned. The abundance of typos in the free Kindle edition does not add much to its appeal. And there is no mistaking it for a work of real genius. Nevertheless, it is a very striking and effective story in its way—full of dread and suspense, exquisitely paced so that the ending comes as a sudden shock, and enlivened by the strange magnetism of the figure of Lord Ruthven.