The rain falls ceaselessly on the town of Bedford as it braces itself for the annual floods that heralds the end of winter. But this year the sense of misery is more pervasive than ever. The Clott paper mill, the town's biggest employer, has shut and the town, already polluted by the chemicals the mill used, faces a desperate future. Liz and Susan Marley are two sisters who are poles apart. Susan, beautiful, and disturbed: abused by her father and, even after he died, rejected by a mother unable to confront her own guilt' she lives in squalor in the wrong part of town. She wanders silently around the town, inappropriately dressed, never speaking and letting herself be picked up by men in bars. She is the town witch, the town's guilty secret. Liz is years younger than Susan, in her last year of high school and worried about her looks, her weight, how popular she is, whether she will ever get out of Bedford and above all why her siter hates her so much. You see, she dreams about Susan, vividly, horrifically, dreams in which Susan tries to kill her, dreams from which she awakes strangely bruised.But it turns out that everyone in Bedford dreams about Susan Marley, strange, disturbing dreams of destruction and loathing. And when Susan Marley commits suicide, betrayed by life one final petty time, her death unleashes a hail of destruction on the town of Bedford that is more terrifying than any dream.