In this junior gothic, Kate Langford returns (along with her parents and brother) to the ancestral home Lissamor and there encounters ghosts, menace, and a family curse. As various chess sets and pieces, red and white, symbolically appear and reappear throughout the tale, Kate learns that two of her young female ancestors (the only two, since females are rare on the Langford family tree) had met early, violent, mysterious deaths, and she experiences manifestations of each until she also is almost drawn to her death. As she researches family history, Kate learns that still earlier a lady named Leonora married into the family when they were a rough, uncivilized tribe, lost her husband and only child and ultimately cursed the family; it was Leonora who was the white queen and Kate herself who was the red queen, the representative of evil. A kind of atonement is made when Kate restores Leonora's portrait to the family gallery and incorporates her into the family crest; however, she realizes that complete restitution can never be made, for it is the child, the poisoned male heir for whom Leonora mourns. A crafty genre piece.