Wildlife novelist Ellis sets an oedipal triangle in 19th-century backwoods Michigan, where Dyland, now 15, has always considered his illiterate logger father an Intruder on the close and loving relationship between gentle, book-loving mother and son. Dyland and Iris mother hate Big Red, the family rooster, for his arrogance, ""chauvinism,"" and ""brutal way with the hens""; conversely, they admire the eagles Taalon and Teelon (or Adam and Eve with talons) whom Gifford, the father, wants shot for attacking the hen yard. And at night Dyland is filled with furious loathing at the sound of his mother's protests accompanied by the rustling of the corn shuck mattress. Then one night Dyland stumbles home through a blizzard, frozen and near death; his mother (with Gifford out looking for the boy) strips off his frozen clothes--and hers, and warms him with her body. . . . Her subsequent avoidance of their accustomed intimacy distresses Dyland; but the scene haunts him later, as he is about to yield to an insistent farm girl's lusty advances. The story's basic situation is reinforced and reflected again and again. The first episode has an unhappy Dyland dragging their reluctant cow to the neighbors' ferocious bull; in the end, the boy's distracted flight from home follows his accidentally shooting Big Red, and then in the woods the mating eagles deter him from suicide and point him instead toward a new life in town. All of this connection and parallelism is more than a bit thick, but the family's isolation supports the close relationships among its members and between them and their natural surroundings. Dyland's all-out blizzard ordeal has an edge-of-endurance intensity, and, on top of it, his mother's unreserved ministration makes a strong and integral scene.