In the tenth century, Old Man prophesies the birth of a great ""wot"" (leader) to Swordfish and Pretty One. But the baby is a girl: Old Man is exiled for his falsehoods, and Swordfish abandons Pretty One and her daughter. But ""Child"" is extraordinarily bright and capable; as an adolescent, she travels east from what is now California on a spirit quest, discovering the prophecy and its truth. Returning home with corn that grows in spite of drought, she takes her place as ""pacwot""--unifier and leader of three feuding villages, ensuring the survival of all. Presented as a prequel to Spinka's first book (White Hare's Horses, 1991, also about the Chumash lands and people), this further establishes the author's skill as a fluent storyteller who is well versed in North American legend. Readers may be mildly distanced from the heroine, whose struggles are minor given her idealized intellect and nobility; however, Spinka's search for the human incarnations of mythical figures and her creative realizations of archetypal events are entirely captivating.