National Book Award winner Ann Arensberg brings listeners a modern horror story about evil descending on an insular Maine town. It begins with the theft of six candles from the church altar, a few herbs found strewn in the local graveyard. In the summer of 1974, the prosperous farming community of Dry Falls, Maine, is hit by a brutal heat wave. Crops fail. Drought blights once-verdant lawns. Men inexplicably lose all interest in sex, while women complain of erotic nocturnal visitations.
On a June night in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, Marit Deym prowls her land, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the van from the Dangerfield Zoo. When it finally comes - hours late - five wolves leap out onto the sprawling wildlife refuge Marit has created. And then one night, the wolves bring a stranger to her door. A poetry instructor at a school for the blind, Gabriel Frankman lives in self-imposed exile after the death of the girl he loved. He visits her grave every weekend. He carries sunflower seeds in his backpack and his friends are the birds.
An editor at a small Manhattan publishing house, Frances Girard, is plagued with the curse of self-awareness. She knows she will never write a book and is resigned to living a dull, sensible life in which people like her "are not allowed to have a nervous breakdown". But she secretly envies those with creative aspirations. When she meets Paul Treat - the man fated to change her life - the avant-garde theater director is clad only in a towel. Frances is instantly attracted to his unpredictable, larger-than-life persona. They act out scenes from plays and embark on an erotic relationship like nothing Frances has ever known.