As he attempts to rebuild his life in rural Oregon after a tragic accident, Malcolm Mays finds himself corresponding with Dusha Chuchonnyhoof, a mysterious entity who claims to be the owner of Malcolm's house, jailed unjustly for 117 years. The prisoner demands that Malcolm perform a gory, bewildering task for him. As the clock ticks toward Dusha's release, Malcolm must attempt to find out whether he's assisting a murderer or an innocent.
Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales, because she couldn't imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults Imogen and her sister, Marin, are accepted to an elite postgrad arts program - Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there's more to the school than meets the eye.