I went out of my way to grade this the way I would other books, so it got 3 stars. However, in terms of Susan Cooper's ability, this probably should have been on the one to two star level. She never accounted for the fantastic element in the midst of realistic fiction. If you're going to suddenly toss something completely unrealistic into a book written as though it is realistic fiction, you have to account for how it could happen if you want the story to be "believable". Even when reading fantasy that works by its own rules, you have to obey the rules you've established and account for it. Cooper does this brilliantly in the "Dark is Rising" series. There she makes the interplay between the real world of Will's family and Will's group of Old Ones work. Here, she just doesn't seem to account for the fantastic element at all. The two individual stories were nicely told, with decent likable characters. Molly is pretty obviously based on Susan herself and how homesick she was for England. Sam is also well drawn and seems quite authentic. She did a fine job on those two stories which accounts for the 3 star rating. It was where she tried to intersect the two stories that she fell down on the job. I have checked out other Susan Cooper titles and hope they aren't as disappointing.