Working in a profession that has largely eschewed hand-drawing in favour of computers, she needs a nine-year-old boy to help her realise that landscape is a realm of myth and folklore too.
Maggie has recently rented a cottage at Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of Scotland, having quit her job and gone freelance. Consumed with guilt after accidentally running over and killing a young girl, she's left Oxford to live in rural isolation. The shell of seclusion begins to crack when she's pressured into giving a talk at the local primary school, where she meets Trothan who, even at first glance, has an uncanny air about him. He's actually interested in her talk and shows some talent at making maps, so Maggie encourages him, not realising he's going to latch on to her and start turning up at her cottage to work on them.
Maggie begins to feel that she's at the edge of the world in more ways than one. She's attacked by seabirds. A snowman appears in her garden, but there are no footprints around it. And, in making his maps, Trothan incorporates local legend in a way that we can see makes her uneasy.
She also suspects her sister may have a point when she suggests that Maggie is using Trothan to find some kind of redemption for causing the death of that little girl. Sticking with Maggie's point of view for the whole of the book, Cracknell forces us to share her character's status as an outsider, to prickle as Maggie does at every suspicious look and barbed comment.
She traces the contours of Maggie's interior self as unsentimentally as the cartographer does with the land she surveys, while planting suspicions in her readers' minds that uncanny forces are at work just out of sight. The result is a haunting tale that, like the landscape in which it's set, is perched on the cusp of the supernatural without ever quite toppling in.