During the Cold War a 13-year-old American boy, Brad Lattimer, moves with his family to a fishing village in Northern Italy. It is no ordinary village. But Brad is welcomed like a long-lost cousin. His teacher is a gentle hunchback with a lisp who is more than he seems to be; and there are witches in the olive groves who will poison your cat, but not for the reasons you imagine. In those same groves there is a village so small it shouldn’t be a village, its red doorways too short for normal men to pass through easily; and at night, on its narrow cobble street, creatures that should not exist walk while a single baby cries forever. On the sands of the next cove sits a pale girl who somehow knows the poetry of the great Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and wants you to drown with her, just as Percy drowned near this village over a century ago. This is the village where Brad, too, will start to dream strange dreams and write his first stories; where he will fall sick because the village’s magic has a hold on him: It wants him to become something other than a boy–something that can never leave it–something it can have as its own forever.