A gripping true-life horror story from child- psychologist/teacher Hayden (Just Another Kid, 1988, etc.) about her growing conviction that a child in her special education class was abused by a group of adults, possibly a satanic cult. Hayden's new teaching job in a small-town school in an unnamed prairie state is shadowed by tragedy: her predecessor committed suicide. Of her four students, eight-year-old Jadie Ekdahl interests her most, since she suffers from ``elective mutism,'' a syndrome that Hayden has researched extensively and helped other children overcome. Indeed, early in their relationship, Hayden gets Jadie talking, and gradually the little girl opens up to her. Gliding like a ghost into the classroom after hours where Hayden is working, Jadie gravitates toward the only safe place and person she has ever known and slowly her story unfolds--imprecise in the details but chilling in its seeming veracity. Hayden hears of cats being dismembered, of the little girl and her sister being made to perform sexual acts, and, most shocking of all, of a six-year-old child having been murdered in front of Jadie and her blood given to Jadie to drink. Jadie's drawings in school contain symbols that Hayden learns to recognize as satanic. Torn by uncertainty over whether this is all a sick child's pathological delusion or whether actual abuse is occurring, Hayden finally decides Jadie is in danger and brings the case before the authorities, gravely aware of the risk to her professional standing and the possible disruption of an innocent family. After a long and difficult investigation, hampered by Jadie's terrified retreat into mutism, abuse is proved, Hayden is vindicated, and Jadie gets a chance at life. Suspenseful, compelling, and offering welcome insights into troubled children and how a gifted and compassionate professional treats them.