Young James Harrison finds himself drafted as the unwilling apprentice of one Thomas Kempe, Sorcerer, who died in 1629 but still haunts the attic bedroom of the Harrisons' old cottage. Most of Kempe's interference -- expressed in petulant notes to James and graffiti chalked on the homes of his natural enemies the vicar and the pharmacist -- falls into the category of ""cheek,"" and James wisely refrains from passing on Kempe's cures for baldness and hay fever to his skeptical parents. But when Kempe turns poltergeist to express his displeasure at the TV weather reports and a visit by the vicar, the damage is a lot harder to cover up, and Kempe's firing of the widow Verity's house -- because no one will listen to his accusations of her witchery -- is the last straw. James' attempts to get rid of Kempe with the help of a friendly neighborhood handyman who doubles as an exorcist never amount to anything like the suspenseful Wild Hunt of the Ghost Hounds (KR, 1972). Yet by the time Kempe decides that the 20th century is not for him and directs James to ""Helpe me to goe,"" the contest of wills between the eccentric specter and his plucky assistant has generated a successful alchemy of its own.