Gripping novels often create suspense by making the stakes very high: life-or-death struggles, violence or destruction on a global scale. _The Channings_ generates similar tension from much smaller stakes: someone has spilled ink on a choirboy's gown, 20 pounds are missing, and a young man burns a candle in his room half the night for reasons he refuses to reveal. In the English cathedral town of Helstonleigh, such enigmas loom large, and Mrs. Henry Wood shows how such seemingly small mysteries can change the fates of entire families -- and how the suspense of such mysteries can keep the reader turning the pages. _The Channings_ follows the fortunes of one Helstonleigh family, the Channings, as their doings are intertwined with those of other townsfolk and of the boys at the local cathedral school. Such communities, with their successes, jealousies, disappointments, secrets, romances, sacrifices and rogues.