Coyne seems to be mellowing, and his new horror novel is considerably less offensive than The Piercing or The Searing. When teenage Scott Gardiner's father dies of a heart attack, Scott drops out of Spencertown Academy for Boys and goes with art-historian mother Barbara to Ballycastle on the Hudson--an Irish castle brought over stone by stone by the late, rich Fergus O'Cuilleannain. So, while Barbara does a catalogue of Ballycastle, Scott goes to Flat Rock High School and becomes addicted to a fantasy war-game called Hobgoblin in which he takes upon himself the character of legendary Irish hero Brian Boru. Even worse, he becomes suicidal, with a garage-asphyxiation attempt and then a bathtub wrist-cutting--from which he's saved by classmate Valerie Dunn. And what about the black annis (hobgoblin) seen running around the estate? Meanwhile, Barbara is falling for Derek Brennan, director of the Ballycastle Foundation (Scott naturally becomes jealous). And Valerie escapes a rape attempt--with help from mad Maeve Donnellan, who lives in a backwoods cabin and seems to be the hobgoblin. But when Barbara discovers a pornographic photo collection, suspicion falls on the supposedly dead former-owner Fergus, who apparently was heavily into sado-masochistic murder way back when. So there'll be a molto-bloody finale, with Scott going bonkers to really become the avenging Brian Boru. Skin-deep horror--but better-crafted and less lurid than previous Coynage.