Precocious Benjamin is sent by his dysfunctional suburban parents to spend a summer with his eccentric aunt and her unconventional clan in a remote Appalachian cove. Near his sojourn's end, the boy wanders alone through the mountains to the Laurel, a land apart from his world and out of time. Along the way, he meets strange and powerful creatures, wise and fierce women and formidable men who help or hinder him on his journey.
Mad Davey, the Keeper of the Wood, gives the boy shelter and the love that eluded him in his own world. Lizzie, the Herb Woman reveals to him his true name, and shows him the way to his future. The reclusive monk known as Owl draws hidden strands of power that bind all in Laurel and pull the boy inexorably toward his destiny. Through it all a dark and mysterious Rider pursues the boy. Neither knows their eventual confrontation will bring resolution and deliverance to them both.
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