Ellen Pierson's worst fears are realized when her cousin Paul's true love, the operator of a temp agency down the hall, turns out to be one of the Malignant Ones, a host of supernatural beings who torment humans in this post-revolutionary world (the Benign Ones aid humans). Ellen and her family fight back with all the tools at their disposal: amulets, sanctified chalk, and Formulas of Recognition. They turn to the government for help, but the Spiritual Development Agency is no help at all. Finally, they contact Alison Birkett, a kind of spiritual Ralph Nader and Bob Woodward rolled into one. The conspiracy she uncovers reveals the depths of governmental complicity with the Malignant Ones. Even the publicity provided by an appearance on Nightline, however, is not enough to save Paul from himself and the Malignant Ones. Ten years later, when contacted by Alison on another matter, Ellen is still resentful about the unhappy outcome of her cousin's case. Her natural curiosity and her attraction to Alison, however, overcome her misgivings, and Ellen is once again on the hunt, armed with feathers, salt, and her own considerable intellectual talents. Brilliantly original, funny, and fascinating. Pollack (Unquenchable Fire, 1992, etc.) turns the world on its spiritual head, offering an alternative view of the matters in which the government, however spiritualized, is still not to be trusted.