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This is the third and the strongest of Jane White's novels of horror both overt (Quarry) and involute (Proxy), here combined and intensified in a more arcane fashion. This takes place for the most part in a remote and recessive East Anglian coastal village, as self-enclosed as its central character; he's a London journalist, Quelsh, who has been ill, haunted by the image of his wife, Beatrice, falling to her death. In the village where he lodges for a night and then stays on he is curious about the vandalism of a group of roving children; about the derelict house in the sea with its lighted window; and about the unspecified, irrational, penumbral powers which seem operative. He is also attracted to Frances, daughter of its Vicar, whose undemanding generosity reminds him of Beatrice--while on the other hand he abandons her to go to the empty house and its disclosure of a presence seemingly inviolate and actually quite mad. . . . Quelsh, for a time equating desire and death, repudiating life, and ""in flight from one unreality to another"" commands your interest and you will be committed to determine his fate, however alien, and alienated, the proceedings. . . .Potent, insidious and unsettling.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1969
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World