Poplar Farm has been in Louise's family for generations, inherited by her sharecropping forebear from a white landowner after a lynching. Now, the farm has been carved up, the trees torn down; a mini-massacre replicating the destruction of lives and societies taking place all over America.
Architect of this destruction is Paul Krovik, a property developer soon driven insane by the failure of his dream. Julia and Nathaniel arrive from Boston with their son, Copley, and buy up Paul's signature home in a foreclosure sale. They move into the half-finished subdivision and settle in to their brave new world. Yet violence lies just beneath the surface of this land, and simmers deep within Nathaniel. The great trees bear witness, Louise lives on in her beleaguered farmhouse, and as reality shifts, and the edges of what is right and wrong blur and are lost, Copley becomes convinced that someone is living in the house with them.