Since Jan is our prime contact with the ethereal ""watcher"" and the alternate universe inside the old hollow oak where Mrs. Aylwood's daughter Karen disappeared fifty years ago, we need to have some faith in her perceptions. But how can we warm up to a girl who counts herself ""much too old to start over again"" at age fifteen, whose favorite words seem to be ""charming"" and ""delightful,"" and whose compulsion to enter the life-in-death beckoning from the oak is enveloped in so much murky speculation (""Was there a magical, invisible telescope mounted somewhere within the confines of that tree with its lens pointed toward a horizon?""). Eventually it's Mrs. Aylwood who goes to search for Karen in the beyond (in spite of Jan's expressed concern for the plight of the aged this seems to be because she's expendable) and the reader is left juggling a metaphysical puff ball. The watcher has something to do with time warps and immortality and, ultimately of course, God, but Jan's responses are so sophomorically wooden that one longs for the comparatively forthcoming poltergeist of The Almost Year (1971). A step backwards. . . into the void.