Since this is even more Gothic in some ways than Nine Coaches Waiting-- more unusual-to-the-genre elements but also more coincidences-- I shall italicize the most Gothic elements once more. Antonia Moncrieff, a beautiful editor with a thirteen-year-old son, receives a surprise inheritance: a big house. Yep, girl meets house. This one is a brownstone in Brooklyn. Antonia is an orphan who has changed her name to escape her dark past and evil ex-husband, but her aunt was the housekeeper for the Standish family and inherited the house from Mrs. Standish when the lost heir who was supposed to get it could not be found, and the aunt left it to Antonia.

Meanwhile, Antonia is assigned to edit the latest book by genius Pulitzer Prize-winning author Adam Kingsley, who was disgraced, jailed, and blinded after he killed a child in a drunken hit-and-run accident. Adam's now out of jail. Antonia had an affair with him thirteen years ago, but he doesn't recognize her because he's blind, and she doesn't tell him who she is. (Much like Lurlene McDaniel's Carley!) In order to facilitate the editing, he moves into her new brownstone, which has a mysterious draft, hidden passageways, and evildoers who want it or something in it. Her ex-husband, who turns out to be a Standish, comes out of the woodwork and blackmails her. I was going to spoiler-cut the next part, but since I don't think anyone else is ever likely to read this I won't; if you don't want to be spoiled for the most ridiculous and unnecessary plot twist ever, stop reading now. Adam turns out to be the missing heir.

This book is chiefly interesting because Antonia's son, animal-obsessed Ewan, is a dry run for Alan in Holland's later YA novel Alan and the Animal Kingdom, in which teen orphan Alan tries to live by himself after his last remaining relative dies, because he has pets and the last time a relative died they were all put to sleep. More spoilers ahead, though again, the book is long since out of print and this isn't a surprise ending...

It concludes on a "realistic" note of sort-of hope amidst the general misery and despair: Alan is adopted, and his pets aren't killed, but he has to give them all away because his new adoptive mother is allergic to animal fur. As a consolation prize, he's given a poodle puppy that he doesn't love. It occurs to me now that this ending isn't really more realistic: a family that would adopt a son on a moment's notice might not hesitate to take in his pets too, and the deadly allergy is just there because a real happy ending, presumably, might give kid readers hope that sometimes things really do work out OK.
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