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There's Gabriella, whose desire to prevent the sale of her grandmother's estate leads to a midnight incantation in the Standing Stones of Ben Dhuidh (rhymes with Druid?); a grandmother known as romantic Italian Gabriella Maria who appears in the family Bible as plain Grizel Mary Stubbs; two spinster sisters who practice Indian sacrificial rites and who yet observe ""the last post"" as a tribute to their days in the East with their army father; and enchanting Sir Harry Nicholas of the burning blue eyes, whose mask of devil-may-care charm has them all spellbound, (""he was of no time...he was as old as time""), who casts no shadow, avoids salt, and who claims to have answered the summons of Gabriella. Add a few equally familiar servant-familiars, some wild haunting laughter (and a grain of salt) for an overwrought melodrama set on the Scottish moors. The estate is saved because simple-minded Wee Willie's favorite picture turns out to be a highly saleable Raphael original, coincidentally an angel with the face of Gabriella (""Gabriel, the Golden Angel, the Guardian Angel, the bringer of tidings, the defender of souls""). The cliches were old when Mrs. Radcliffe used them in The Mysteries of Udolpho with as little resemblance to reality and a good deal more talent for creating a mood of suspense, and Gabriella is spiritless despite her succession of midnight romps.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Coward-McCann