The title of this book - 'The Time of the Ghost' is a definite clue as to what themes to expect in this novel - 'time' and 'ghosts'. It begins with an unidentified 'ghost' who has an overwhelming feeling that a terrible accident has occured, though she cannot remember any details. As she travels through a boys boarding school, little bits and pieces of memory come back to her - she suspects she is one of four sisters - Imogen, Sally, Charlotte or Fenella, who through a game they called 'The Worship of Monigan', have brought to life a terrible goddess. The sisters begin to believe that they are being haunted and seek out the ghost's knowledge, while one of the school students Julian Addiman, has a secret adjenda with Monigan himself. The ghost continues to piece together her past, but all the time wondering - who is she? Where is she from? Why is she here? What should she do?
If you want the answers to the questions then don't expect to find them at the beginning/middle of the story - you'll have to hang in there till the end. Like all Wynne Jones's stories nothing is what it seems, not even the premise of the story - you may assume that the 'ghost' is a ghost, and that events run in chronological order, but don't be fooled. Reality and assumptions turn themselves upside and round-about on more than one occasion. Whether you like this book or not, you'll have to appreciate the cleverness and complexity of the story that takes a very unique imagination to design.
However, this story lacks any explanitory narrative, which deeply confuses the reader, and leaves them confused till the end of the story, or perhaps even until a second read of the book. It would have been so much simpler to have a few 'eye-of-god' paragraphs to just explain to the audience what is going on in a few situations. However this is made impossible, as the viewpoint of this novel is strictly that of the ghost's. The closet we get to explanations are dialouges by other characters as the plot catapults along.
This is the typical style of all Diana Wynne Jones's novels, and in my opinion, her downfall. The lack of black and white, clear-cut explanations as to what is going on confuses most readers and prevents her from getting into the league of other fanatasy writers such as J.K. Rowling.
This book is a good, memorable one with a clever, well thought out plot. The only problem is that is Wynne Jones gives us no way to appreciate this as we go along, but makes us wait till the very end of the book to explain what was happening the whole time. Therefore, 'The Time of the Ghost' reads like a guessing-game, and you have to piece together the plot as you go, without really knowing whether your holding the right pieces.