Christina is an island girl. Her home on Burning Fog Island in Maine is a resort in the summertime, but, with only a tiny year-round population, students have to go to school on the mainland when they start 7th grade. This means boarding in a stranger's house and being away from their families, but Christina is excited to hear that the new school principal and his wife, an English teacher, are opening their colonial home to all four of the island children this year. They'll all be together, what could happen?
The Shevington's home is as beautiful as they'd heard, but they are relegated to cheerless attic rooms. The boys shrug off the inconveniences, but it quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong with the eldest island student, the brilliant, but fragile, Anya. No one wants to hear Christina when she begins to ask questions about the Shevingtons and their mysterious past, or about the other promising girls who have vanished after crossing their path.
Caroline B. Cooney is one of the founders of tween suspense, so I was thrilled to come across this omnibus of a trilogy I'd read back in middle school. Part one, The Fog, is a masterful setup, introducing the characters and making a good effort to get the reader to doubt Christina. Too soon, however, the plot creates spectacular tragic accidents and blatant cruelty that is ignored by almost every adult. Trick psychology and gas-lighting go only so far, even in a small town in Maine in the late 1980s.
It's also clear that Anya was heading for a fall long before she set foot in the Shevington's house. Impossibly twee.
If the reader gives in to the fun of the story, however, it is a fun ride and some of Christina's responses to the bullying and harassment she receives from fellow students and adults are inspired.