In 1877, on the western slopes of Mt. Etna in the medieval town of Bronte, a peasant girl with red hair and golden eyes, both feared and mocked by the townspeople, aches to know her true path in life. Known as the girl
, she sees the world through the polarizing eyes of two women: her revenge-driven mother and her godmother, an herbalist and worm-charmer. To gain her mother's love, the girl
agrees to kill the Duke of Bronte's son and, thereby, avenge her father's death, in spite of a chance encounter on her sixteenth birthday with a shepherd boy who offers her a third perspective on life and love.
Through the connivance of the town's carter, the girl gains access to Nelson's Castle. There, she crosses paths with the Duke's vulnerable son, his jealous cousin and a scheming surgeon. There, the lessons of mother, godmother and shepherd boy converge "for the good or the bad of it" when the girl takes a stand that will change her life forever.