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The last of Lucy Maria Boston’s five books about Green Knowe injects a rare element into the magical adventures and nature-idyll of the English manor house of the title. That element is terror.
It begins when Tolly (Mrs. Oldknow’s great-grandson) and Ping (a displaced Chinese boy who visits on holidays) come to spend the summer together at Green Knowe. It involves an ancient manuscript of great magical power, left hidden in the house by a wicked 17th-century alchemist. And it comes to a head when their new neighbor– the vile and creepy Melanie Daisy Powers– sets her sights on Green Knowe. And her curse as well.
Ms. Powers wants to have the secrets of Green Knowe’s magic to control for her own evil ends. And she is willing to do anything to get them, using hypnotism, raising ghosts, sending plagues of maggots and snakes and cats and worse, and finally bringing the full force of the Powers of Darkness to bear on Granny Oldknow and the two boys.
Helped by a magical mirror, the ghost of a beloved gorilla, and a scholarly tenant named Mr. Pope, the rightful owners of Green Knowe face this terrifying villain. But will the ancient walls and gardens of Green Knowe withstand the onslaught of pure evil?
In the creepy gothic conclusion to the lush, lyrical Green Knowe series, you see another side of L. M. Boston. But the love of nature, and the laughter and play of children, and the romance of old stone houses where countless layers of time share the same space, still energizes this quick and exciting book. And the final answer to the power of pure evil– I choose those words deliberately– is one that even those who despise the occult may approve of. I give it my highest recommendation.
UPDATE: As it turns out, I was wrong about this being the last of 5 Green Knowe books. Apparently I was just going by what one particular publisher listed on the flyleaf. A sixth Green Knowe book, titled The Stones of Green Knowe, came out in 1976. Plus, if you agree with my view that Lucy Boston was a master of the writing craft, you may be interested in some of her other titles, including The Castle of Yew,The House That Grew, and Nothing Said.