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The chill Atlantic lies between Lavinia Andrews and the England she loves after a shattering incident topples her family’s fortunes. Shocked, she can barely comprehend that the Andrews family will call Random Passage home from now on—this tiny settlement perched on rock between dense forest and the inhospitable ocean. Wresting their survival from the sparse soil and the capricious ocean, Lavinia, her sisters and brothers, their families, and their mother work side by side with the capable Vincent family, the determined and mysterious Mary Bundle, and the enigmatic storekeeper Thomas Hutchings, who might have been a priest or a murderer.
As the tiny outport community struggles for survival, it must deal with the threat of starvation and fatal illness, with surprise attacks by privateers and a savage polar bear, with tragic loves marked by madness and murder.