Rereading: DREAMWOLD CASTLE by Florence Hightower

This was Hightower’s last novel for children, published in 1978, and it has a different feel from the others in some ways.

Phoebe Smith and her mother Miranda have moved to a small New England town to get away from Boston, where Miranda has a teaching job, but they live in an upstairs apartment in a large house owned by Miss Tarlton, whose family she is always wanting to tell them about when they’d rather be doing other things. Then Mrs. Tarlton’s son Charles returns from Japan and charms Miranda, and they are soon spending a lot of time together. Meanwhile, Phoebe isn’t making any friends at school, and decides to steal her mother’s car and drive back to her aunt in Boston. Phoebe is not old enough to drive, even though she knows how, but the escape ends quickly when she’s smashed into by a limousine. A few days later, one of the popular girls, Constance Mottrell suddenly asks her to sit with her at lunch. It turns out the limousine belongs to her father, and the chauffeur was following Constance, spying on her, when the crash happened. Constance invites Phoebe to her huge family mansion, Dreamwold Castle, to meet her brother Harry, and soon all three are having adventures together at the house, and on the mountain overlooking the town. All of them are interested in mountain climbing and exploring. Then things take a strange turn when Harry and Constance’s older brother Tony turns up. He seems to be on the run from something, and he has a gun. He’s hiding out on the mountain in a secret place, and Phoebe is drawn into helping him. Before long she’s lying to her mother and doing things she knows are wrong, but can’t seem to stop. What will happen when the FBI show up looking for Tony?

While there are mysteries in this story that are gradually revealed, the overall tone is somewhat ominous and somber, and the story doesn’t have the usual happy ending. It’s quite good all the same, and recommended.

Dreamwold Castle by Florence Hightower

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