Fantasy based on a traditional ballad, from the author of The Dubious Hills (1994), etc. The Meriweather sisters--Juniper, 16, Gentian, 14, and Rosemary, 11--live in a large Victorian house and attend an open school. On the vacant lot next door, a small, red, ugly modern house springs up practically overnight; inexplicably, Gentian, whose room has an observatory for her telescope, finds the house blocking her view and takes the instrument back to the shop. New neighbor Dominic Hardy, a tall, dark 15-year-old whom Gentian jokingly refers to as a vampire, speaks in quotations, riddles, and non sequiturs, and asks for Gentian’s help to build a time machine. Gentian’s friends are a precocious group who call themselves the Giant Ants; at a Halloween party they try the Ouija board, but after an enigmatic message, the planchette shatters. Then Gentian notices that snow doesn’t settle on the Hardys— driveway, it just vanishes. The Giant Ants, meanwhile, plan a production of Twelfth Night but run into casting problems as, one by one, Dominic manages to upset or beguile them. After Christmas, Gentian and Dominic begin work on the time machine. Days, or perhaps months, later Gentian realizes that she’s become trapped in time. Clearly, Dominic is not what he seems, and she—ll need all her wiles and some powerful magical help to break free of his baleful clutches. Best regarded as a single prolonged, darkish metaphor, despite the YA appeal of the backdrop, impossibly mature characters, and oh-so-stealthy plot.