The Fishcastle stands proud and high over the seaside village of Proudie Bay, where the sea meets the land. It is home to the Hardwicks - Marlin, teller of tales and charmer of snakes and women; his daughter, Jennifer, who keeps house; and his son, Gulliver, perfect in form but flawed in spirit. Creaking with secrets and a menagerie of creatures, the Fishcastle gathers many others into its rambling rooms and garden. One eventful summer under the Fishcastle's roof their lives are changed forever.
Wagners Creek, otherwise known as the arse-end of the Earth, is the home of the mutton-bird, the carrion crow, and the remarkable Fin Starling. Son of the local provider of "special services", Fin is different from other children and soon it becomes clear that he is something of a miracle-worker as he transforms the dirt-poor shantytown into a place of pilgrimage. Elizabeth Stead's gently comic portrait of Wagners Creek is handled with benevolent grace. Yet beneath the comedy runs an unsettling undercurrent and the suspicion that Fin's birthplace exists in a parallel universe where different laws operate.