Twenty years after a terrifying childhood prank taken too far, cousins Danny and Howie meet again in Eastern Europe to renovate a crumbling medieval castle. The tables are now turned: the once-scrawny, awkward Howie — a childhood victim of his cousins’ bullying — is now a handsome millionaire, while Danny is thirty-something NYC hipster with a questionable past. Howie is now intent on turning the castle into a high-end, technology-free, spiritual retreat; he reaches out to his wayward cousin in part to patch up the rift stemming from that childhood event that changed both their lives.
Danny immediately hates it there, especially since there’s no cell phone reception. Everything is old and unsettling, and being around Howie so much dredges up old memories of what Danny did to him when they were younger. Howie, however, doesn’t even bring up the past; he’s freakishly positive about everything in life and insists that Danny has a special something, a magical intuition that will lead this fledgling business venture in the right direction. And he’s right. Skeptical though Danny may be, he knows that for everything to succeed, the need to get into the highest, most secure part of the castle: the keep. The problem is that the ancient matriarch of the family who owned the castle still lives there and has no intention of ever leaving; her family had owned the castle for centuries.
And here, unfortunately, is where the novel begins to unravel in a way that it never fully recovers from.