When seventeen-year-old Valerie Russel runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinth subway system. But there's something early beguiling about Val's new friends. Impulsive Looli talks of monsters in the subway tunnels they call home and of a powder that makes shadows dance around her. Severe Luis claims he can make deals with creatures no one else can see. And there's Lui's brother, Dave, who makes the mistake of letting Val tag along as he makes a delivery to a woman who has goat hooves instead of feet. When a bewildered Val allows Lolli to talk her into tracking down the hidden lair of the creature for whom Luis and Dave have been working, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honourable, and as Val grows to know him, she finds herself torn between affection for him -and fear of what her new friends are becoming because of him.