Rayne Peters needs space and quiet. She lives in a hot, grimy, noisy housing complex in a hot, grimy, noisy part of London. So when she decides to take a job living on a quiet estate in Herefordshire, far from her home, she is willing to ignore all kinds of uncomfortable facts—like sleeping in a lonely apartment that is pitch-dark at night and full of strange noises. Like Mrs. Drivers, the housekeeper who insists that Rayne lock herself in at night. Like the eleven black candles she finds burnt down around what appear to be gravestones, and the ghost hunters who run from the Keep after sensing horrible disturbances. Like the visions she keeps having of a green lady rising out of the woods.

While Rayne revels in the freedom she has, she becomes involved with a darkly handsome neighborhood boy named St. John and his close-knit group of glamorous friends. Mysterious events seem to pile up around her: the web site St. John's friends run with the slogan "Beauty is Cruel, Cruelty is Beautiful," an old woman in a pub muttering "Fire, flood, fury" and the ghostly presence of the tortured and murdered people who fill the history of Morton's Keep.