In a vein different from her prize-winning Haunting and Changeover, Malay writes of an extraterrestrial visitation to her native New Zealand. Bond, descended from humans and living eons hence, comes back to present-day earth on a school mission that is part character-test and part information-gathering. He encounters Jake, visiting her divorced father's new family, which includes Dora, also 12, and her younger brother, Lewis. Bond is pursued by Wirdegen, shadows in competition for the knowledge he holds; the children, trying to protect him, involve him in a family expedition, during which one of the Wirdegen possesses Lewis. Bond offers his life to save the children but then realizes that these shadows are not really evil but part of his test, and is transported back to his own planet; everyone slips far back in time and then returns gradually, trading basic truths about themselves all the while. Far less complex than Mahy's other fiction, this will suit a younger, less sophisticated audience. While the characterization lacks the depth and subtlety we've come to expect, the satisfying adventure with Bond takes precedence; we learn almost incidentally of Jake's home situation, where she has become caretaker of her grandparents and irresponsible mother. Jake, who is reconciled with Dora as they work together to save Bond, is no longer an alien in her father's house; yet her own status remains unresolved.