Jeremy Freirs is a graduate student and teacher who decides to spend his summer working on his dissertation and preparing for the class he will be teaching in the fall on Gothic Literature; he thinks he has found the perfect place in Gilead, New Jersey, is a world all to its own, the home of a strict religious sect with extremely puritan ideas. Moving into a former storage building on the farm of Sarr and Deborah Poroth, he expects to spend a productive summer free from essentially all distractions - he is quite wrong in this assumption. Meanwhile, in New York, the rather reserved Carol Conklin goes about trying to survive in the big city on a small income from her job at a library. She meets Jeremy in New York just before he leaves for the summer, and a connection is made which will find the couple developing a romantic relationship on somewhat strange terms. What Jeremy and Carol do not know is that this relationship is the work of a strange, little old man known as Mr. Rosebottom. Rosie is actually the Old One working to bring his master back after a very long absence, and Jeremy and Carol are the unsuspecting keys to his success.