Nine-year-old Caryl, telekinetic and a tyrannical spoiled brat, has driven her mother to drink and her father from home. Thirteen-year-old Carson is less talented--his talents are empathy and instinctive path finding--but he is mature, responsible, and the only person who can control Caryl. After a massive earthquake destroys their home, Carson tries to take Caryl where she can no longer harm their mother, but ends up in the hands of a religious commune whose dogmatic pastor tries to exploit Caryl's powers. Carson escapes, helped by desert rat Ed, who shares his talents, but he is captured by criminals seeking a reward from the Loran Organization, a mind-power study institute. The criminals are captured after they kill the pastor, and the children are reunited with their father. Carson mistrusts the Loran Organization, since their early experiments were harmful, but Caryl believes the institute has changed and decides to join them. Carson finds in the end that his deep feeling of empathy with members of Loran outweighs his mistrust, and he too joins. A fast-paced, engrossing, and vivid tale, reminiscent of Zenna Henderson's The People series, with its sense of alienation resolved by found community; the first book in a projected five-volume, me series about the house of Loran. Although the coincidences--such as Ed turning out to be a long-lost great-uncle--are unlikely, an enjoyable read overall.