I'm pretty damn sure I read this novel some time ago, but I can't for the life of me remember anything about it. What makes this 1957 novel interesting is that it's one of the few Philip K. Dick novels that is overtly supernatural rather than weird sci-fi.
The book begins in classic paranoid style that would become familiar thanks to The Twilight Zone. A young man called Ted Barton feels the urge to return to Millgate, the hick town where he was born, and which he left as a boy. His wife is not impressed. When Barton returns to Millgate he is stunned to find that it simply isn't the town he remembers. What's worse, when he checks the local newspaper files he finds a report that says he died in an epidemic.
That's stange enough, but it's obvious that some children in Millgate have unusual powers - they can create mini-golems from clay, and talk to insects or spiders. And the town seems to be haunted by very credible ghosts, called Wanderers, that just walk through walls without noticing the 'real' people around them.
Blimey. Things become even more paranoid when Barton tries to leave town. He experiences a revelation of the awful truth about Millgate - that it under the control of two vast, ethereal beings that seemingly treat the people like, well, puppets.
I'm enjoying PKD's prose, as always, and his cavalier way with reality. I don't think I've ever felt let down by one of his books, which is interesting given that he wrote so many. So let's hope this one isn't the first.