From the front inside jacket flap: "When Tim Wakelin, recently a widower, heads north in search of a story about a local healer named Carolyn Troyer, he enters a world that is real yet strange. Familiar landmarks disappear and extraordinary events unfold as his life becomes intertwined with hers. Even the landscape itself -- ancient rocks, myriad lakes, and cathedral forests of the Canadian Shield -- becomes a source of threat. How can he understand this strange and beautiful woman when he is no longer sure why he has really come or what is happening to him?
Until now, Caroline's life has been dominated by her parents: her cunning father, Ross, who has exerted an unspoken power over her since she was a child; and Ardis, her weak yet abusive mother. Aware that her ability to heal is only part of a mysterious process of transformation that she is undergoing, Caroline must break free of the chains of her family. Perhaps Tim can provide the sanctuary she needs, if he has the strength to survive the violent forces unleashed by his arrival."
This novel, while entrapping the reader in its suspenseful external story, is really an internal quest. Like most people, Tim and Caroline have been shaped by tragic events in their lives: Tim by the death of his beloved wife; and, Caroline by a childhood filled with betrayal and horrific abuse.
Caroline's role as a healer deals not only with the external but the internal. When Tim is injured, she is able to alleviate some of his pain. In these moments, he also comes to a startling realization: "The Earth had already brushed him like ash from her sleeve. His last chance had already passed... And he remembered a former perception, a perception undead after all, a light from far away, the cradle perhaps removed from him thereafter, until now. And he knew it must have been the fact of having once enjoyed that light and then enjoying it no longer that made refusal of it so automatic when she had tried to tell him. And one with the light was the knowledge that there is what a man has the power to convince himself concerning the world and there is what he has the power to do there. And then there is the world, the whole scene of it as it spread before and within his eye, a site of wonder, a universe of energy where iron and flesh and will and desire are no more than what they are, which is nothing, a shadow, in the light of that. And what he would not give for a glimpse of that light now." p. 311
This is complexe novel: there is the story of a girl with mystical powers and a journalist who comes to get the story in order to meet a deadline; there is the story of the accident, a hospitalization, a land purchase and a murderous rampage through the wooded Canadian Shield; there is also a exploration of the insignificance of our presence in the world, and yet, at the same time our undeniably important impact on one another.
Inevitably, as with most novels, the reader will take with him/her the lessons that speak to him/her the most...and will be healed.