At the start of the story, Harvey Swick (the protagonist) is so bored with his life that he agrees to go with the mysterious Mr. Hood to the magical Holiday House. Harvey is looking for some much-needed fun and excitement in his life and jumps at the chance to go to this strange, enchanting place. But it isn't very long before Harvey realizes that all is not what it seems. Far from being a fairy tale haven of magic and adventure, the ill-named Holiday House turns out to be hiding a really creepy secret: Mr. Hood—who's actually a vampire—has been trapping children's souls inside the sad gray fish in the pond at the back of the house.
By the end of the story, Harvey has developed great maturity. He's come to realize that, however boring or frustrating life may get sometimes, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. He's also no longer naive about the world; it was this naivety that got him into so much trouble in the first place, making him vulnerable to Mr. Hood's false promises of fun and adventure. Thanks to his experiences of the Holiday House, Harvey is now in a position to value the important things in life he'd previously taken for granted, such as the love of his parents.