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A century-old trunk has been dug up near the railway village of Sterfontein. Inside is the lost journal of Victorian author Elizabeth Tenant – and what appear to be the remains of a child.
Michael, a university student recovering from a broken heart, is intrigued by what the journal describes: a scarlet curtain billowing above the desert, covering the entrance to another world. But things become even stranger when a line in the journal seems to be connected to Michael and his cosmologist mother, written a hundred years before their time.
Without much to go on, Michael travels to the old Karoo hotel where Elizabeth wrote her novel Mirage. Amid talk of omens in the sky, ancient prophecies and the end of the world, he tries to decipher the journal’s secrets. As one mystery leads to the next, constellation-like patterns between his own life and Elizabeth’s appear, helped along by Renata, a self-proclaimed medium, and Oom Sarel, the local museum curator. But as time starts to dissolve in the mirages of the Karoo, it becomes more and more difficult to know what is real and what is not.
And why can’t he shake the feeling that he’s been to the village before?