|In a bedroom of an ancient house on Penryn Island, Maine, an old woman dies. Women attend her as in a ritual. A necklace the dead woman wore is handed down to her granddaughter, MARY AMES, 4.
Seventy-five years later, Mary's granddaughter, TRACY AMES, 13, moves with her father JOSEPH, 45, and her sister HANNAH, 15, to Penryn Island after the death of her mother. Joseph is taking his daughters back to his mother, Mary, now 79, hoping the girls' grandmother and the slower pace of life on Penryn will help them recover from their loss.
Tracy does not blend into life on Penryn. The tiny community is old-world Welsh. She doesn't understand the lessons taught at school. She feels lost in a place with no television, no cell phones, no internet. Hannah, who found her mother's body, was more traumatized and, oddly, blends in much better to life on the island. As Tracy is getting into trouble, Hannah thrives. Hannah also receives special attention from Mary. Mary gives Hannah the old necklace she inherited from her own grandmother long ago.
Soon Tracy is forced from her classes into remedial lessons with the town librarian, MISS PORTER, 48. The school's HEADMISTRESS, 45, even threatens to leave Tracy back a grade. She feels increasingly isolated. Joseph leaves the girls with Mary during the week, working as a surgeon in Portland. Just as everything is going wrong for her, Tracy discovers something worse. Her grandmother's house is haunted.
With the librarian's help Tracy discovers her gift: she can catch ghosts. Tracy sets out to clear the house of ghosts. Her actions unsettle a delicate balance. For hundreds of years the women in her family have bound the spirits of the dead to Penryn. This has guaranteed long life for the women who know this secret. Mary, the fulcrum of this dark system, has not left her house in seventy-five years.
Mary has been preparing Hannah to take over her role as keeper of the dead. Hannah is supposed to be the one with the gift. Because she doesn't have the gift, Hannah weakens. Tracy must stop the cycle or lose her sister.
As Halloween approaches and the day for Hannah to take over draws near, Tracy's ally, the librarian, is murdered. Knowing she needs the dead woman's spirit for the final battle, Tracy catches her last ghost: the librarian. On Halloween night Tracy finally frees the dead of Penryn. Hannah is saved, Mary dies, and the old house burns to the ground. The dead are released to go to their rest. Or to damnation.
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