In 1849, the Poltraze Estate has been deserted by Squire Nankervis, and 16-year-old Clemency Kivell is stunned when her father, Seth, announces that he wants to buy it. Trespassing in the abandoned big house, rebel-in-spirit Clemency encounters Kingsley Faraday, who tells her he’s bought Poltraze, but will not be the new squire.
Seth is furious he’s lost out, but when Poltraze Farm is bequeathed to Clemency by Squire Nankervis, grateful for her rescue of his infant son, Seth sees his chance, moving the family there and renaming it Trenbarvear.
But his vindictive bullying causes tragedy, and the family deserts him. He plots murder and revenge on them all, and only the strength and wits of Clemency can save those she loves.