Alex, her sisters, Cat and Tori, and her 7 nieces and nephews are headed up to her camp in the Adirondack Mountains for the Columbus Day weekend when the unthinkable happens. A voice on the radio warns of an imminent attack, telling them to seek immediate shelter. Greeted by guns and bullets when they try to find refuge at nearby homes, they ford the upper Hudson River, hiding in a cave to wait out the worst of the fallout. After two weeks in their dark, dank hole, they're wasting away, starving.
The situation is made worse when Alex wakes up one morning to discover her sisters have left, taking the rented minibus with them. They've decided to return home and search for their husbands, unable to comprehend the devastation that awaits them there. Abandoning their children, leaving Alex to care for them. Alex is furious at her sisters. She feels betrayed. It's an arduous 35-mile hike through the mountains to her camp. There's no way the kids can survive such an ordeal…but they do! It becomes a journey through hell. Society is devolving. Looters, murderers, and rapists hold sway now. The strong preying on the weak. The small hamlets and villages they pass through have been turned into killing fields as survivors battle each other for the few remaining supplies. Above them, the skies are growing darker every day, blocking out the sun. Temperatures are plummeting, winter is coming early. Her burden increases when Alex takes in two orphans she finds on the trail. Now she has nine hungry mouths to feed.
Their little band is elated when they finally make it to camp. They're safe, at least for the moment, but in order to keep from starving, they'll need to learn how to live off the land the way the tribes that once inhabited the area did. Alex knows where to find the books that can teach them how to survive: the gift shop at the Adirondack Museum. While searching the buildings there, she stumbles upon a large, hidden cache of food only to discover it's guarded by a man who'll haunt her nightmares. Half guardian angel, half demon. Both barbarian and benefactor. A strange mixture of brutality and gentleness, cruelty and caring. A man named Wolf!