Egan's third novel is a chilling modern-gothic story set in Manhattan and Europe. The story's narrator, a convict named Ray, is spinning the tale for his prison creative writing class, in hopes of getting close to his teacher. The story he conjures up centers on Danny and Howard, cousins who come together in Eastern Europe at a medieval castle they've agreed to renovate. At the castle, they leave the trappings of civilization behind: There's no cell phone service, no TV and the roads in are nearly impassable. Free from the cares of the everyday world, the cousins have strange experiences. Danny encounters a beautiful baroness on the property, but he's uncertain if she really exists. His attempts to set up a satellite in order to connect with the outside world are foiled when the dish goes missing. As it turns out, Danny and Howard were both the victims of a childhood prank, an incident that has never been forgotten, and their reunion brings back old memories, leading to a showdown of sorts that nearly destroys them both. Taut and original, this spellbinding novel is a formidable addition to Egan's growing body of work, which includes the best-selling novel, Look At Me.

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