1866, London. As Charles Dickens takes to a London stage on a foggy Autumn night to read from his ghost stories, Eliza Caine and her father settle into their seats. A huge admirer of the novelist, Mr Caine has insisted on attending, despite his worsening cold. Returning home, a fever hits him and within 24 hours he is dead, leaving Eliza alone in the world. A teacher by trade, Eliza notices an advertisement for a governess position at Gaudlin Hall in Norfolk. Deciding that she needs to start over, she applies for and is offered the job. Arriving at Thorpe station she is almost pushed beneath a train but is saved by two villagers who, although initially friendly, become quiet and uneasy when she mentions the position she has accepted. Arriving at Gaudlin, Eliza meets the two children in her care, Isabella and Eustace. To her surprise, they appear to live there alone. There are no parents, no adults at all, and no one to represent her employer. The children, however, seem to expect her and show her to her room. From the night she arrives a series of disturbing incidents take place, each one of which threatens her life, and slowly Eliza begins to believe that this house is haunted. A solicitor in the village reveals some of the secrets of Gaudlin to her, others she must discover for herself. The action takes us from a London classroom to a Norfolk grand estate, and from a small Spanish town to a graveyeard in Great Yarmouth. Eliza refuses to be frightened away from her position; if she is to survive Gaudlin and save the children, then she must take on the ghost herself.