by Wrightson, Patricia. (Puffin, 1990 ISBN 0140343393. Out of Print) Novel. 132 pages. Grades 5+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.


This is a strong and fascinating novel of a restless and dangerous spirit reaching out to a young girl. The girl, Jo, has come with her grandmother to a wilderness area. Knowing that her grandmother was going to camp in order to seek out and perform some of the ancient rituals with which she alone is familiar, Jo stowed away in the old woman's car. The grandmother, Mrs. Willet, knows the ways of the young as well as those of the ancients so she reacts with some patience as Jo insists on going her own way. When that own way brings her into contact with Balyet, however, Mrs. Willet is justifiably afraid.

Balyet is not quite a ghost although she is a thousand years old. She's been cursed into a life alone in echoes and shadows in the hills because, a thousand years ago, she caused two blood brothers to kill each other. Now Balyet yearns for company. She thinks of herself as eternally young and wants to be with Jo.

Mrs. Willet knows that those that Balyet touches die even though Balyet cannot. Eventually Mrs. Willet uses the ancient songs and spells to call forth her own teacher for she alone cannot fight Balyet for the spirit of Jo. The teacher calls out the ancient ones who banished Balyet and finds peace for them all.


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