September 1953. Fourteen-year-old Barney Holland is promised a fresh start when he is offered a place at a boarding school on the remote North Sea island of Lindsey. Instead, he is shunned by his peers both for his status as a charity pupil and for being the replacement of a recently deceased student, the popular Cray. The arrival of Belinda Flood, a housemaster's daughter stigmatized by her expulsion from another school, provides Barney with an unexpected ally. Both outsiders soon fall under the influence of charismatic senior pupil, Ivor Morrell, who reigns over the forbidden corners of the school: an abandoned fallout shelter and a haunted basement corridor. A gruesome find and the friendship with a local woman rumoured to have been a wartime collaborator draw the three into an increasingly dangerous web of personal and social shame. Gripped by mounting horror at his discovery of secrets harboured by the isolated school community, Barney personifies the struggle of a young peace-time generation finding its way out of the shadow of war. A shocking climax reveals a lurking threat more immediate than he'd imagined, adding even greater urgency to his desire to escape the island - and its haunted past - once and for all.