A strange and haunting book, which never- for this reader- became quite real. John Blaydon, barely thirteen when the story opens, is unlike other boys even then and fate piles one thing upon another until a sensitive, imaginative lad becomes a notorious figure, wholly unable to come to terms with his own generation, obsessed by the tragedy of violent death of the one person he loved and a pervading sense of guilt, dropped from school after school, approaches the verge of suicide. Two people exercise a profound influence:- his eccentric mother, who has her own method of exerting pressures; and Horab Greenbloom, self-consciously a Jew, immensely wealthy, an unorthodox Oxford student who thinks rules are made to be broken. Greenbloom -- through shock techniques of his own making- forces John to face himself, his own mental and emotional blocks, his inability to emerge from the past. That the methods Horab uses could bring any results other than escape from the trammels of his strange hypnotism is never made credible, but he alone sees through John's defences until John meets another girl who captures his imagination and makes him feel that the future may be his. The picture of English Public School life; of a rectory household- with conflicting view of Anglicanism; of censoriousness and laxity at the extremes; of innocence pilloried and deviation condoned- adds up to a strange melange.