Ellen we are told, is always getting into trouble because of her insatiable curiosity, and she proves to be just as much of a nuisance to the reader. When as a result of her misunderstanding, a family of thirteen (rather than the expected four) arrives to stay in Mother's guest house on the Irish coast, Ellen and her sister move from their rooms into the long abandoned ""back house."" There Ellen has strange visions of tenants past and communications with them through self-writing pens. She shares these with a new friend (one of the thirteen), and together they make a discovery which sheds new light on local history and lore. A less easily resolved mystery is how the many irrelevant side issues, characters and dialogues can provide such diversion for Ellen's family and the superfluous supporting cast. More ghastly than ghostly.