It is really a children’s story, the story of 9-year-old Emma who is caught up in a terrible storm and washed away, from where and from whom we never learn. She washes up on shore in an area known as The Dunes, isolated and stretching for miles, and prone to terrible and violent equinox storms.
She is clever and resourceful, and after making a shelter from the ruins of an old rowboat, wakes up to see a materializing young boy in a Bell Captain’s uniform. It turns out he is a ghost, but quite friendly.
One hundred years ago, a very clever inventor built a hotel right here on these dunes. He had invented a machine that would create a disparity in time for his hotel, which meant that you could experience a month-long vacation stay in only a weekend. Everything was in readiness for the first guests when an awful storm blew in and buried the hotel under piles and dunes of sand. The staff and the inventor managed to escape to the wharf, which broke off from its moorings, and they were carried away, to be saved on some distant shore.
But poor conscientious Winston, the Bell Captain, all of 17 (I think) stayed behind and was killed. Hence his ghost.
Another storm moves in, and Emma and Winston build a kind of fence to keep the sand from burying them, and when the storm is over, the fence had apparently diverted the winds such that the buried hotel was now totally visable, good as new.
The two get the machine going which affects time, and begin exploring and cleaning the house, when the cook appears, good as new. Then a pirate ship (actually a tugboat) appears on the horizon and the captain, Captain Doubloon, advises he is there to claim his treasure promised his grandfather by the grandfather of the inventor.
They are then joined by Masterman, a 7-year-old grandson of the inventor, an orphan under the care of the evil guardian who has escaped his horrible boarding school. The group then embarks on a quest to find the treasure which is hidden in the hotel.
All in all, it’s a grand tale, just right for the prepubescent and younger crowd, and not at all displeasing either for readers of a certain age such as myself. Our Inner Child is always lurking just beneath surface, no matter what our age.