Written in a quasi-mystical pastoral style, the story is told from four viewpoints, as the characters’ relationships and their personal histories are revealed via their internal monologues. However, the real spirit of the novel is the rural landscape and the disconnection of modern man with nature, folklore and the old country ways - a moving elegy to a fast disappearing way of life.
'I mean, if you collected together all the mischievous fairies, black dogs and, I don't know, haunted houses from all over the country, you'd soon see they're all of a type - just ways of explaining what was unexplainable back then ...
'Oh I don't know, Dad. It must have been amazing growing up in those times: there'd be a story attached to every cave, every rock, every tree. It wouldn't be, you know, there are some trees -' Chris waved an arm at the general view - 'and we know everything there is to know about them, though hardly anyone actually bothers to learn their names. It would be a case of, this tree, this oak tree, has a wicked witch in it, this willow tree is magic -'
'Rowan', said Kitty, taking her son's arm. Rowan trees are magic. You wouldn't dare to cut one down. Elder trees sometimes had witches in them. And hollies were planted in the hedges to show you where to turn the plough. it wasn't all magic, you see, but everything meant something. It still does, we just don't know how to see it any more. I think it's a shame.'