This first adult novel by the author of YA fiction is a murky affair about a youthful soul's torments while growing up and coping with her creative imagination. The narrator here is Frances Stuart. But behind, beyond, and beside Frances is an inner ""sister"" who tells the stories, has the words, sees through the depths of magic forests--and the ""sisters"" experience visions and illuminations in wild, beautiful, dangerous places. In an Arizona night desert, with tales from her third-grade parochial school about saints and Satan fresh in mind, the inner Frances spins tales of Hell-Giants; in Germany Frances' first tentative love of a German schoolboy is confused with tales of horror and pursuit by wild boars. But it is in England that the two Franceses first see a beautiful stag--who will become ""Stagman,"" an image that will follow Frances, even to a California university: in the turbulent Sixties, the Stagman--always out of reach--will absorb terror; after Frances' suicide attempt, the splintering of the Stagman into ""stagman"" allows Frances to appreciate mere men. And finally Frances will absorb this sister ""shadow,"" who's finally written her novel; and she joins kindred spirits at a Connecticut artists' colony--where she looks back on her Stagman-led career in art and identity: ""How bizarre it was to have invented, loved, hated, killed, and resurrected a private god while the world went about its daily business, toppling governments and building MacDonalds."" Confused and confusing: a dark bog of private symbols, double-images, and self-stroking conceits.