At first glance the references to covens seem to betoken something based on Kaye's interest in magic (Catalog of Magic)--but no, this turns out to be a sci-fi collaboration about the telepathic survivors of a long-ago holocaust. Their primitive but lusty existence in the great Appalachian river basins is increasingly threatened by plague and the depredations of ""merks"" (mercenaries) apparently hired by the City, the vast technological enclave running 500 miles southward from Boston behind its invisible but deadly ""Self-Gate."" Garick, ""god"" of an important coven, decides to force the City to some kind of terms; his weapons are his two sons--Singer, outcast child of the city-born Judith, and Arin, happy-go-lucky loafer. Arin and his companions, sent to track down a weapon of invisibility (the ""Girdle of Solitude""), are nearly destroyed by the third counter in this struggle: the Kriss (Christians), whose hearts are as black as the dust from their coal mines above the Skanna (Susquehanna) valley. Nicely blocked narrative; efficient if semi-processed writing; much talk in Nco-Pithy Tobacco Chaw (""Boy, you never did have enough brain to put on a fork""). Those acquainted with the region will have fun matching up the geography with names like Cumlan (Cumberland) and Lorl (Laurel, Md.). All very briskly done, but why is this being promoted as general fiction rather than the sci-fi it is?