Dan Pride has been raised in Europe, but the death of his parents brings him back to his family’s ancestral home in the marshes of coastal Massachusetts. The Pride home sits on an island in the marsh reached by two bridges. One includes the equally old Witches’ Bridge, named for Dan’s Puritan ancestor Samuel Pride, who was accused and executed as a witch. Samuel, like Dan, played the violin, and people of the area claim he haunts the island, and that his violin can still be heard when the fog rolls in from the ocean.
Dan hopes his uncle Julian will be a friend and welcome him, but Dan is met by the hired man Billy Ben, who is quick to fill Dan with the superstitions and fears of the locals. Uncle Julian proves a cold, sickly person who seems to have little understanding or friendliness for Dan, leaving him sad and fearful. Dan tries to help Billy Ben with chores, but doesn’t get on well with those. Then he meets a boy from a nearby cottage on the mainland, Pip, and they explore the marsh together. Dan is happy to have a friend, but later finds out that Pip might not really be the friend he seems, and feels alone again. A great mystery surrounds the death of Dan’s grandfather, who was planning to settle the family’s long feud with the Bishop family nearby when he was found dead near the Witches’ Bridge, without the briefcase he was bringing to the Bishops to close a deal on the purchase of a shipyard. Dan decides he must find out what really happened, and find the missing papers. He gets some help from a hermit living on his own small island and others, but he also finds many in the town against him, and soon Dan is also being accused of terrible things. How can he prove he’s innocent and solve the mystery?
I enjoyed reading this again, though this time I found it more melodramatic than I remembered, almost gothic in tone. I liked the characters and plot, the setting is well envisioned, and the mystery and its solution is satisfying, so in all, this book is recommended.