Fifteen-year-old Katya Spivak is out for a walk on the streets of Bayhead Harbor, New Jersey, when she is approached by silver-haired, elegant Marcus Kidder. At first his interest in her seems harmless. The world he inhabits acts as a tonic to her drab existence. And as a children's book writer, he seems to be a man she can trust. His home is beautiful and he lavishes gifts on her. Everything about him is enticing - perhaps too enticing? Like a moth to the light Katya agrees to pose for a painting. But by degrees something changes. Being Mr Kidder's muse is not the easy endeavour it once was. What does he really want from her? And how far will he go to get it? This spare, chilling novel shows Joyce Carol Oates at the height of her powers as a literary storyteller.