There is a dark presence in Phin's life. His stepfather is a drunk and his malevolence poisons their home. One evening the violence gets out of control. As Phin's mother drags her son's broken body away, she can think of only one place to take him: to the local healer. But this healer deals in more than medicinal remedies. At her insistence, he calls on the spirits to ensure Phin is never harmed again. However, his words are more than a call: they are invitation--one that the spirits welcome as a legion descends and takes root within Phin.
Phin awakens to discover he is no longer in control of his mind or his body, and something certainly inhabits his soul. He possesses superhuman strength and immediately takes revenge on his stepfather. This would have sated Phin, but the spirits have other ideas. They drive him into the wilderness, and all who go to him quickly rue the day.
As he terrorizes the village, soldiers come to remove him--but how do you restrain a man who can break the strongest of manacles? Is there any hope for this lost soul who has been overcome by darkness?