Philippa's father has just remarried. To avoid her father's and his new wife's sickening honeymoon, Phillipa takes a summer job as a nanny with an odd specification: must love black (which she totally does). When she gets to the client's residence, it turns out to be a very fancy spa called Chrysalis Cliff. Her charges are two 10 year old twins (named Rienne and Triste) who are intelligent, overly sensible, and share Phillipa's love for black. At the spa, Phillipa and the girls have very little area to roam around in and the girls' father is a workaholic. Will Phillipa get the girls to have a little fun and reconnect with their father? Is there a point at all to this book? No.
Phillipa immediately struck me as an ungrateful, whiny teenager. I'm willing to concede that it's because I can't really relate to her or because I'm not a teenager anymore. (I ran into the same problem with Shilo, the supposed protagonist of Repo! the Genetic Opera.) However, leaving in the middle of your father's wedding reception without saying goodbye before being away for an entire summer is just plain rude in my book. Her behavior was more tolerable when she started working (mostly because she wanted to keep her job), but I don't think she changed her attitude significantly. I really liked the quirky little twins, Triste and Rienne, with their solemn natures and sensible ways. They reminded me of little Edward Gorey type characters. They were the most enjoyable part of the book for me.
I felt that this book was incredibly incomplete. There were huge chunks of plot missing. Since the spa was called Chrysalis Cliff, I figured Phillipa would have some sort of change: a mental or emotional or physical change of some sort. I was wrong. There was a a couple incidences with a possible ghost following and interacting with Phillipa, but again, there was no follow through. It really didn't need to be there at all and just made the book kind of confusing. The end was missing at least a chapter. Very few of the problems were solved: Phillipa still has to return to her "evil" stepmother with the same mentality she had at the beginning of the novel. Lady BV, the father's partner who doesn't seem to like the children very much, remains unchanged and still works against the children, although her influence is a bit diminished. The romantic plot line was resolved in about a sentence. How hard is it to ask a guy if he's dating someone? Not that hard! This is what the problem with relationship between Phillipa and Geoff boiled down to. The writing just didn't flow very well.
The concept of the novel was interesting and had a lot of potential, but turned out to fall flat. I liked some of the story, but the holes and failed expectations overpowered the aspects that I liked. I only took about a day to read this, but I would recommend using that time to read something a little more coherent.
My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins