Shirley Jackson's most appealing- and approachable- novel to date is again a fantasy fable, but has none of the eccentricity of The Sundial or The Haunting of Hill House. If ""the world is full of terrible people""- the three and me are Mary Katherine (Merricat). Blackwood and her sister, Constance, who have lived alone with their Uncle Julian, frall in body and mind, since the time when Constance as a child is said to have put assents in the sugar which killed their parents, their brother, and Julian's wife. Taunted by the villagers they live in the old house which will ultimately become a tomb, and Merricat has her superstitious safeguards (three magic words), her box of silver dollars buried by the , and a sparkling world of the imagination to which Constance alone is privy. But it is threatened by the arrival of their Cousin Charles; his presence is an intrusion and it leads to the last disaster which is also the final encroachment that the outble world will make on Merricat and Constance.... There's a childlike charm here, an occasional chill, and just a touch of gentle madness which gives this a very special kind of sorcery and seduction.