At first, Johnny's most serious problems are right out of the textbook for the budding adolescent: How will he survive the summer without his friend Fergie (he makes a new sandlot pal, Sarah Channing), and what will rescue him from boredom (a job Professor Childermass finds him at the town's Gudge Museum). When Mattheus Mergal, a blackclad, sinister man, appears at the museum and steals some enchanted artifacts, Johnny and Sarah launch their own witch hunt. Some frightening apparitions, terrifying nightmares, and deadly lightning bolts are visited upon the young sleuths, but they remain undaunted. When Mergal kidnaps Professor Childermass to obtain the final talisman he needs, the teens grapple with the necromancer in a battle that will leave one of them lost in the land of the dead for all time. Strickland, in his first solo work featuring the characters created by John Bellairs, leads readers on an entertaining frolic. There are enough well-placed frissons to keep readers flipping those pages, even those who know that, in keeping with series formula, all nefarious plans will be nixed.