A sturdy but slow-moving and rather shrill contemporary gothic: young widow and wee child trapped on farm with creepy in-laws. Beth and son Paul go from L.A. up to Covenant Farm after husband Jon dies--accident? suicide?--in a car crash. And no wonder he never talked about his family. There's Jon's vacant ma, an alcoholic lech of an uncle, a vicious aunt, one hulking retarded cousin, one evil-macho cousin (Beth succumbs briefly, to her own disgust), a mad grandma, hints of incest, and lots more. "Everyone here is mad," Beth writes in her hysterical journal. Or are those really ghosts conversing with little Paul--and did grandpa Carl really make a deal with the devil? Beth quakes a lot and allows herself to be made a helpless prisoner. She does escape, of course, and tolerant fans of dumb-damsels-in-dire-distress will be able to escape for a while with this first adult effort by a familiar presence in juveniles.