Jim Hawthorne, the new head of this failing school for troubled teenagers, is determined to save it from closure. Partly because he believes in it - despite his friends' warnings. And partly to exorcize his guilt from a terrible tragedy in his past. But he finds his problems are far greater than controlling disruptive pupils.
The staff are secretive, watchful - as if they are frightened of something. He becomes the victim of mailicious rumours and cruel, increasingly macabre practical jokes. And then a young boy is found dead, floating face down in the swimming pool.
As winter draws in around the academy, Jim discovers the real, terrifying danger inside its ivy-clad walls . . .