The Woman is the last of her kind, the lone survivor of a tribe of feral cannibals who have terrorized the Maine coast for years. She is wounded and weak, but she's found refuge in a cave overlooking the sea. Christopher Cleek is an amoral—and unstable—lawyer who sees her bathing in a stream one day while he's out hunting. Cleek has dark, cruel secrets and he will now add one more. He will capture the Woman, lock her in his cellar, and attempt to tame her, with the help of his wife and children. But very soon the question will become: Who is more savage, the hunter or the prey?
Chris is out hunting when he sees the wild, feral woman, nursing an injury. He starts to get an idea of bringing her home and keeping her in his barn, training her to behave and live in a normal human society. He manages to catch her and when she wakes up she is captive in the barn and Chris proudly shows her to his family.
Belle, his wife is horrified and suspicious of what he has in mind for the woman, but is too scared of her husband to stand up to him. She agrees to help feed and clean her, cook for her and make her clothes, trying to keep on the right side of Chris. His son Brian is delighted by his dad's catch and spies on her where possible, having fantasies about raping her, just like his vile dad. Chris has been raping his daughter Peg for years with the full knowledge of his wife, so Peg is the only one with any sympathy for the woman, when Chris starts raping her. She wonders if she can help her escape, but the woman has plans for the whole family if escape happens, and she is watchful for the opportunity.
What a lovely family! Chris is an evil git who needs shooting, so I found I was rooting for the woman to escape and give him what for! I despised Belle for standing by and let her husband rape their daughter, instead of taking the girls and running away, or reporting him. She seems more upset at the idea that her husband is cheating on HER than him being a serial rapist and paedophile! You can fully understand why Peg hates her parents and fears for her younger sister. When you add in a teacher at school who is concerned about Peg and starts sticking her nose into family business, things are getting dangerous at the barn...
You are not meant to like the men in this family, or Belle either, most probably so for once I didn't mind horrible main characters. It gave you something to hope for, that they would get what they deserve eventually. Peg is someone you had great sympathy for, with the terrible situation she was in, and nobody she could trust. She starts to find an affinity with the woman and tries to look out for her the best she can.
In true horror style, the book is leading up to a grand finale that you can see coming a mile off, starting with the teacher deciding to visit Peg's parents despite Peg warning her not to get involved. What happens next is typical Jack Ketchum gore and it was fun to read. I did like the way it ended.