Kay and Liza Franklin--not their real names, as Liza keeps telling herself--fled home after their stepfather, who abused Kay as a child, turned his attention to Liza. Moving into an abandoned farmhouse in Britt, Texas (pop. 532), the girls convince the townsfolk that they are long-lost cousins of the absent owner. The farmhouse contains Hobkin, a brownie who followed an early settler from England. With his help, the girls make a new life, eventually getting their mother to join them. In the end, Hobkin is set free to join the Indian spirits or roam where he will. In her third book, Griffin continues to mine the vein of fantasy and sf she used in Otto from Otherwhere (1989) and A Dig in Time (1991), while exploring a heavier theme. Kay and Liza are fully realized, by turns resourceful or frightened, independent or in need of help. In the process of finding supportive friends--people, a goat, the brownie--they are able to heal their wounded family. If things are a little too easy (empty farmhouse, compliant owner, workaholic brownie), they nevertheless make an entertaining story.