The year is 1816. A sprawling villa in Switzerland is the setting for a stormy night of madness. On this night of the "Haunted Summer," five famous friends gather around an ancient skull to conjure up their darkest fears. Poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, Shelley's fiancée Mary Godwin, Mary's stepsister Claire Clairemont and Byron's friend John Polidori spend a hallucinogenic evening confronting their fears in a frenzy of shocking lunacy. Horrifying visions invade the castle - realizations of Byron's fear of leeches, Shelley's fear of premature burial, Mary's fear of birthing a stillborn child - all brought forth in a bizarre dreamscape. They share the terrifying fantasies that chase them through the castle that night. The events of that night later inspired Mary Shelley to write the classic "Frankenstein" and Dr. Polidori to pen "The Vampyre," which became the basis for the creation of Dracula..
Maud Bailey, a brilliant English academic, is researching the life and work of poet Christabel La Motte. Roland Michell is an American scholar in London to study Randolph Henry Ash, now best-known for a collection of poems dedicated to his wife. When Maud and Roland discover a cache of love letters that appear to be from Ash to La Motte, they follow a trail of clues across England, echoing the journey of the couple over a century earlier.