Set in a country of arbitrary arrests, sudden disappearances and summary executions, Isabel Allende's magical novel tells of the passionate affair between two people prepared to risk everything for the sake of justice and truth: Irene Beltran, a reporter, comes from a wealthy background; Francisco Leal, a young photographer secretly engaged in undermining the military dictatorship, is strongly attracted by her beauty. It does not matter that her fiance is an army captain: each time Francisco accompanies her on a magazine assignment, he falls more deeply in love with her.
When they go to investigate the mysterious case of Evangelina Ranquileo, a girl suffering from spectacular fits which are rumoured to have miraculous powers, the arrival of soldiers adds a sinister aspect to the mystery. And then Evangelina disappears. Irene and Francisco, in attempt to trace her and indict the Junta, become engulfed in a vortex of terror and violence.