Ghosts and monsters rub noses with British matrons, retired businessmen, and squabbling honeymooners in seven bland ghost stories whose atmosphere of everyday trivia, lack of special effects, and tendency to Freudian subtexts make them more daunting than haunting. In several, uppity women are the issue. Is the female sea monster infesting the honeymooners' Lake Constance an allegory for the hypercritical bride Caroline, or a real man-eater? Then there's the ivy (female principle) that strangles the holly (male principle) around the young couple's new bungalow and proceeds thoroughly to fence them in. In the title story, a repressed female civil servant is gradually invaded by the spirit of a longdead witch--she gets the power to kill by evil-wishing, but what makes her prefer to kill dogs and little children? ""The Little House,"" the most successful story, shows suburban family life, with its worries about dry rot, being subtly undermined by an oddly dressed little girl who keeps asking five-year-old Janice to play in her tree house (and won't let her brother come too). Nobody else in the neighborhood has ever seen the child. Even here there's a strong implication it's Mommy's fault when the tree collapses--knowing there was a ghost around, she should have kept an eye on her kid. No joy for feminists here, and no thrills for anyone else: tendentiousness drives out the horrific, leaving bad vibes but no bad dreams.