Dangerous Spaces by Margaret Mahy

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Dangerous Spaces Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In Dangerous Spaces eleven-year-old Anthea Wakefield must come to terms with the death of her parents in a boating accident. She must also adapt to a new life in the ancestral family home in rural New Zealand with her Aunt Molly, Uncle Lionel, and cousins Flora and Teddy, not to mention the ghost of Grandfather Lionel, who stays in the house because he cannot bear to let others make any changes. Stifled and harried by a disorganized and alien life in her new home, Anthea seeks refuge in a dream world called Viridian, created by Old Lionel's long-dead brother Henry.

Anthea enters the dream world through the inspiration of dead Henry's stereoscope pictures of ancient monuments and exotic landscapes, and finds, at least initially, a world of panoramic vistas, pure air and snow, and ample space. In a journey down from the dazzling mountains toward a sea (and its mysterious island) which beckon in the distance, Anthea is drawn increasingly into a puzzling and more threatening world populated by the ghost of dead Henry.

Even as Anthea begins to reconcile herself to her life with her new family and to cope with her grief over her parents' death, she becomes trapped in the fantasy world. As she struggles to escape, Flora and the ghost of Old Lionel come to rescue her from the dangerous spaces of Viridian and achieve a resolution that restores the dead to Viridian and the living to their parallel place on Wakefield's Point.