It was a sunny yet chilly October day in the small seaside town of Hogan's Gap, California, and Halloween was still three weeks away. Green, black, orange and purple autumn decor lined the windows and walls of the rows of old false-fronted stores and colorful Victorian houses.
In one large, old mansion near the summit of Main Street, Gwen Barry was feeling lazy and content. She had just finished her homework, and now waited for her parents to get back from a baby shower. To pass the time, she started reading one of her many favorite Gothic-horror mysteries written by John Bellairs. So absorbed was she in this literary masterpiece that she did not hear the patio