by Alan Davidson
Plot Summary:Alison's dreams of living a life of elegance and luxury start coming true when affluent, sophisticated Mrs. Considine takes her under her wing, but only too late does Alison realize the power of Mrs. Considine's spell.
Having loved Marina in a Green Dress by Alan Davidson, I decided to read some more of his work, and this one seemed the most well known. I felt like there are similar themes between both works, as both Alison and Jessica from Marina in a Green Dress become "bewitched" by someone and are looking for something more in their lives.
The author's characterization of Alison is beautifully done. Her unhappiness and dissatisfaction with her family and her school-life - only vaguely hinted that it might be all due to a skewed sense of values, and her selfishness - sets the scene very well for a young girl open to a new life no matter the consequences. And as the author gradually reveals the sinister aspect of her relationship with Mrs. Considine, I always hoped it would work out well for Alison as the changes it was bringing about in her confidence and outlook on life were so positive.
The suspense is what keeps you riveted, and as always Alan Davidson incrementally increases the tension masterfully. Alison's transformation from there and back serves as an interesting moral tale about the importance of family and friendship and confidence in one self. The only slight qualm I had with the story was the way it ended, as I felt it was a little too easy and left Mrs. Considine's true nature somewhat ambiguous. But for all that, it's an intensely satisfying little story, with a great character-driven plot.