Blending myth and modern fantasy is a tricky business. Miles does well with the Demeter story until a too-literal ending, when the case of the Brambles' live-in housekeeper Mrs. Korngold is resolved in slavish and unconvincing detail and, anticlimactically, the Brambles review the myth together, pointing up the obvious parallels. Till then, however, there is much alluring mystery in the strange events that begin shortly after the family moves to an old country house and take in the woman from nowhere to help Mother with the new baby. As twelve-year-old Adam's younger sister Lottie puts it, ""Mrs. Korngold makes you see things that aren't there."" She also seems to have literally snatched Lottie back from death when the little girl fell off a horse. And unless Adam is going barmy, hasn't she changed pesty cousin Crispin into a lizard right before his eyes? Then there's the shape-changing Messenger who keeps trying to contact an unbending Mrs. K., and the fact that the northern English winter is so particularly severe. . . . It's all intriguingly set up in a pleasantly rounded family setting--if only the return of Mrs. Korngold's daughter and the arrival of her transparent brother in the Hades role had been as lightly handled!