On a visit to his birthplace, Kolkata, a Brooklyn-based dealer in rare books finds his life becoming entangled unexpectedly with an ancient legend about the goddess of snakes, Manasa Devi. While visiting a temple, deep within the vast mangrove forests of Bengal, he has a disturbing encounter with the most feared, and revered, of Indian snakes, a King Cobra. This is followed by a series of increasingly uncanny episodes that seem to dissolve the borders of the human and non-human.

Peopled with a diverse cast of characters, and set in places that range from the Sundarbans to Los Angeles and Venice, this is a story about a world in which creatures and beings of every kind have been torn loose from their accustomed homes by the catastrophic processes of displacement that are now unfolding across the Earth, at an ever-increasing pace. It is also a story about a man whose faith in the world is restored by two remarkable women.