Presented as A Separate Peace and Lord of the Flies though it has very little to do with either, this curious conte takes place just before WW II and deals with medieval manifestations while set in the equally medieval world of the British public school. ""Every entrant. . . pays his obol of pain or humiliation."" Malthus the school (Mons being one of its buildings) has a bullyboy caste system and archaic language all its own of toffs and griffins and helots and whatnots. One of the ""new louts,"" narrator Clive Swinburne, is attracted to two of the other first year boys Corelli and Sturges who not only exclude him but are ""enthralled"" by their house-master-music teacher Dr. Vitaly. Dr. Vitaly projects strange films in the crypt as well as a less identifiable aura--is he a vampire or a pederast or a Fifth Columnist? Desmond Stewart's first novel has a subterranean hook of evil and the tone is fastidious, the touch tapered, but it's no doubt much too civilized to attract the audience for the commercial bloodsucker.