Quieter in tone than the previous three, Angela Slatter‘s story concerns Hepsibah Ballantyne, a coffin-maker who arrives at the D’Aguillar household to deal with the recently-deceased father, and takes rather a shine to young Lucette D’Aguillar while she’s there. The coffin-maker’s trade is particularly important in this fictional world: get the rituals wrong, and the spirits of the dead will remain behind — as Hepsibah herself knows, because her own dead father, Hector, never leaves her side. The atmosphere of this story builds up quite nicely — Slatter evokes Hepsibah’s burgeoning attraction towards Lucette particularly well — and the  complexities of Heispibah’s character are revealed gradually and effectively.

Rating: ***½