A short story stretched to novel length in this British author's tedious debut--all about ten-year-old Tess's loathing of stepdad Malcolm, who wants her sent to boarding school; her hatred of her three stepbrothers, particularly the sadistic Joe; and her fervent wish for life to be as it was when she and her sister and her mom lived with daddy. That, of course, was before that Awful Thing Happened. To return to life pre-stepdad, Tess listens to Dad's instructions in her head, fondles a knife, reads up on poisons, and-voilÃ !--Malcolm keels over. Problems remain, however: Mummy has taken up with the exterminator man; the new cleaning lady is fondling a trinket or two; and, worse, Mummy still plans on sending Tess to boarding school. Tess soon waylays Mummy's new lover, cooks up some poisonous jam, and obeys That Voice--until the cleaning lady tidies up the plot. Overlong and insufficiently creepy, but once the focus is off had-seed Tess, the plot heats up with some rather deft adult complications.