The power of ancient ritual and the grip of old ghosts is chillingly demonstrated by a solidly contemporary cast of English villagers. Twelve-year-old Lucy, visiting her aunt for the summer holidays, hits it off at once with Kester, the blacksmith's nephew, who is locally resented for setting himself apart from the other boys. Then the blithely obtuse vicar revives the long-buried Horn Dance to draw tourists to the parish fete, and Lucy watches the village boys who've been cast as dancers become gradually possessed by their ancient roles. Concurrently Kester becomes a taunting but fascinated observer, breaking off with the uneasy Lucy who wants everyone to abandon the plans and rehearsals. By bits and pieces Lucy learns of the ghostly hunt that was once associated with the dance and of the older villagers' belief that anyone who looks at the ghost hounds and their horned riders must become a part of their ride -- as the prey. Despite increasingly ominous occurrences the fete day arrives and the dance is performed; then, inevitably, the dancers' savagery and the ghosts' long-checked powers are unleashed on Kester. It is Lucy's firm recourse to both reality and magic that saves Kester and restores general sanity -- and Ms. Lively's subtle blend of reality and magic that gives her novel its consuming fascination.