From the very first moment that young Lyndsay meets jolly, creepy, blue-toque-d Mrs. Abernathy--they're on a plane to London--veterans of occult hair-straighteners will know that Lyndsay is in for it. She is the American bride of British Michael, who, she is told in London, has been killed in an auto accident. Sorrowfully, Lyndsay arrives in Michael's remote rural village, Ratchets, where she is greeted by a large dog that seems to, er, have known she was coming (Go back, Lyndsay! Go back!). Ratchets is an inbred mix of three founding families and is not friendly to outsiders. But Lyndsay is taken in hand immediately, is treated to food and drink (Don't swallow that, Lyndsay!), is forced to wear a jet necklace with a hound's head, and has the damndest dream about being raped by a man dressed in gold. Furthermore, as the days pass, folks keep calling her ""Mistress."" By the time you or I would have been screaming down the road, Lyndsay is getting an occult education from old Mother Poole, and all those queer matters--a sad children's graveyard with some rather recent graves, a pack of hounds, flocks of geese, ancient curses, plus the attractions of a bad fellow named Bart--begin to make some kind of deadly sense. Lyndsay finally knows what is expected of her, and, after a few murders, she seems to be in the clear. But wait! What is that, materializing in a blue toque? . . . Too complex for unalloyed terror, but horrid fun just the same.