KEVIN NEAL, at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains, fails to bait a Púca to fight. In this compelling, heartrending, Irish coming-of-age story, he learns too well what it costs when monsters are unleashed. Decades before the great famine, the youngest Neal boy survives the war but believes he has lost everyone. A stubborn persistence, a crumpled letter and the nurturing support of rural mountain folk enable him on his journey through his formative years. When he locates a childhood friend-Anastasia Kelly, he learns that she has become aloof and part of a different world.