Vincent Bruce, named for the saint of the poor and the destitute, reared by his grandparents at his mother's early death, grows up to fulfill her sense of mission for him- he becomes an attendant in a small private hospital for schizophrenics in his Maryland small town. In working with the patients he shows not only a real dedication, but a definite gift, which he is to betray on meeting Lilith Arthur, an extraordinarily beautiful young girl with a ""perfectly constructed delusional system"". Her private world has its own language in which she practises a kind of ""religion magic"". Extremely creative, she is equally clever; once having seduced Vincent, she uses him to indulge in other forbidden intimacies. Avid and abandoned, she destroys another patient, and with her own deterioration, leaves Vincent with the sorrow of his abiding attraction to her and his failure.... While the terrain is even murkier than the earlier The Lost Country, (1958) this is guilty of much of the excess of the first book- the preoccupation with sexual lust and the lack of control which is not only Vincent's.