Gilbert has produced some creepy tales (Miss Bede is Staying, 1983; The Long Shadow, 1985), but this latest mystery/romance, set in a WW II English village, is on the mild side. Londoner Kate Borrow moves to the village of Kinning to take the place of teacher Edmund Westmain (to Kate's irritation, apparently a paragon), who's gone off to war. Kate boards with oddly prescient fellow-teacher Emmie, and is fascinated by young James Conrad, who lives with his mother in the family manse of Kinning Hall. James, excused from military service to manage the family steelworks, has periods of depression--and strange silences--but Kate's love brings him around. One day, though, into Kate's classroom comes the exquisite Celia, sister of a pupil. Kate is bewitched by her unearthly beauty. Appropriately, the class is reading Milton's Comus--all about Virtue being detained in the wood by Evil. When Celia disappears--into the wood? to London?--there are several sightings (including Kate's), as well as an odd encounter with the strange Mrs. Buckle, who keeps a cottage in the wood for "some gentleman" (Edmund?). Before the end, there will also be several treks into the wood by Kate, in spite of Emmie's warning: in summer in Kinning, the atmosphere is "sensuous. It arouses primitive feelings." Gilbert, alas, is handier at accelerating chills than at steaming primitive impulses, but still, this amiable tale putters along agreeably to a not-unanticipated solution.