There, in the village of Westmost, Otter is born to power. She is the proud daughter of Willow, the greatest binder of the dead in generations. It will be Otter’s job someday to tie the knots of the ward, the only thing that keeps the living safe. Kestrel is training to be a ranger, one of the brave women who venture into the forest to gather whatever the Shadowed People can’t live without and to fight off whatever dark threat might slip through the ward’s defenses. And Cricket wants to be a storyteller — already he shows the knack, the ear — and already he knows dangerous secrets. But something is very wrong at the edge of the world. Willow’s power seems to be turning inside out. The ward is in danger of falling. And lurking in the shadows, hungry, is a White Hand, the most dangerous of the dead, whose very touch means madness, and worse.