nightwoods takes place in a small North Carolina town in the early 1960's. There lives Luce, a single, fairly isolated woman whose sister was murdered and Luce is now left with her sister's two young children (twins). The children appear to be somewhat psychologically wounded...they will not speak and set fires, runaway, etc.
"The first time Luce tried to take their clothes off to help them bathe was a bad day. They cried bleak, silent tears. The could bawl like calves or wail like beagles when they were frustrated or mad, but this was something else. She stopped undressing them immediately but they went off into their own heads, dazed, and stayed there for hours."
Luce was living in an old abandoned Lodge on a lake as a caretaker for the Lodge. The owner of the Lodge had died earlier, and his grandson came to check out his inheritance, which included the Lodge. Meanwhile, Luce's sister' husband (the twins step-father) came to town. He had been charged with his wife's murder, and was found not guilty. Now he wanted to find the children. He felt that they knew information that he needed.
The story introduces various other characters, such as Luce's estranged mother and father, and Maddie, a wise old neighbor.
Another great example of Mr. Frazier's writing, where he was again writing about the children:
"No apologies. Repent was a lost word in their lexicon. They did what they did, and moved forward despite whatever trail of ashes they left behind. And Luce wondered if maybe that was what they had to teach her. No looking back. Life goes one way only and whatever opinions you hold about the past have nothing to do with anything but your own damn weakness. Nothing changes what already happened. It will always have happened. You either let it break you down or you don't."
Brilliant writing! Loved this book!