The sineater is a mysterious, terrifying figure of the night, condemned to live alone in the mountains. He comes out only when a death occurs in the small community of Beacon Cove. As mourners at the wake turn to face the wall, the sineater enters to eat food off the chest of the dead, thus taking on the sins of the departed and cleansing the soul to enter heaven. The sineater has a family, yet even they must be asleep on the rare occasions he comes home for a midnight meal. The elder son, Curry, works as an oak weaver and prepares himself for life as the sineater when his father dies. Joel, the younger son, attends the community school but is either ignored or taunted by the other students. A rash of violent crimes and murders rock Beacon Cove. The religious leadership announces that the sineater, overburdened with sins he has consumed, has become the embodiment of the devil. They must forbid him from attending wakes and do all they can to protect themselves from his evil. However, when troubled young Burke Campbell moves to Beacon Cove, he challenges the community's superstitions and fears and forces Joel to face the reality of who he is...and who his father is.
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