In this supernatural drama-thriller, a seven-year-old Creole girl, Marie, witnesses the turmoil that erupts between her parents, Marianne and Boden, as they desperately search for their young son lost during Hurricane Katrina. The beautiful and delicate Marianne is a jazz vocalist whose spiritual and personal beliefs are challenged as she tries to save her son in the wake of several tragedies, while Boden is a French antique dealer whose search through the city is complicated by the politics of a community in chaos in the wake of a violent storm.
By day, Marie accompanies her father into the horrors of a decaying New Orleans where she meets mythical characters within the Crescent City’s ravaged landscape. With the help of a shepherd of men, a music-playing soothsayer, a saintly nurse, a teacher of lost children, and a caretaker of souls, Marie comes to understand the heartbreak of loss under Louisiana’s burning hot yellow sun.
But by night Marie moves through a passage of weepy willows to spy on her mother’s darkly mesmerizing Haitian Vodou rituals. She watches Vodou priestess Aunt Ynetha lead Marianne through a series of ceremonies that call the spirit Baron Samedi, a guardian of children but also a gatekeeper between the dead and the living, so he might reveal the fate of her lost son. Each ceremony leads Marie deeper into the mysterious world of Haitian Vodou.
Marie finds solace only in the serene silence of the cemeteries where she discovers the haunted and terrifying Effrayant, a spirit caught between worlds. He is tormented by a fragmented memory and lost in a city of death where no one but Marie can see him or hear the Kreyol he speaks.
With nowhere else to turn, Marie draws upon the mythical power of New Orleanian characters and the spirits of Haitian Vodou to find her own met tet, or master of her head. Using the healing power of Vodou spirits, Marie uncovers the strength to find her brother in a most unexpected way, healing her family in the process.