A story of North Carolina mountain folk, with their queer clannish solidity, their unpredictable loyalties, their almost morbid distrust of outsiders; and of the Boydens who came over form Virginia and lived in Little Stepper Valley, a law unto themselves -- the fact of their violent deaths accepted and boasted by the Cove folk. Little Squire Jim was even more alone than his forebears. His aunt Mrs. Gwynn ignored him, even when he got into trouble and killed a man and went to jail in Tateboro. Into his strange lonely life two factors had entered- the stallion, with whose life his was strangely linked; and Harriet Evans, the red-haired young schoolmistress, whom he worshipped silently, passionately. And he was so potent an element in her life that finally it cost her her job -- and he thought she had failed him. His violence, his passion, turned into other channels- but he refused to be tethered, until his strength betrayed him, and Beldie lay dead.... Little Squire Jim's trial was a test of almost supernatural power to the Cove people who loved him. At the end, Harriet might have saved him- but the stallion's death broke his tenuous link on reality, and he died, as he had lived, alone..... Marshall has flashes of brilliance in his writing, in his perception, but the book is difficult, elusive reading. In it lies promise of fulfillment, which later work may achieve.