In Northern Scotland The Gripping Beast introduces readers to a land full of ancient history and modern day intrigue. Orkney Island was first inhabited by the Picts and then the Vikings and the residents now believe that witches live among them.
Margot Wadley uses the dramatic background to debut her heroine, Isabel Garth, a young American woman who has come to the island to illustrate her deceased father's notebooks. As soon as Isabel steps off the ferry she is accosted by a beautiful young woman who warns her to leave. Andrew, a young boy she met on the ferry, proudly announces that the woman, Thora, is a witch. Isabel doesn't know what to think and as she continues her vacation she starts to feel that maybe Thora was right--maybe she is in danger. She is puzzled by the behavior of two men who seem to be following her and by the rash of accidents that are plaguing her. Then, while out sketching one day, Isabel finds Thora's body--apparently murdered.
In a dramatic climax, a life is lost, a life is saved, and the treasure at the root of all the violence disappears forever.