It is the story of Daniel, whose parents have died; he goes to live with his grandfather on a remote gray island off British Columbia. Together they live an extremely lonely life, hardly talking to anyone. But the loneliness soon lifts from Daniel when he meets a mermaid. He returns to the shore later, hoping to meet her again, but instead finds a sea otter, who then tosses him a seashell which contains a key. This book is his search to find what the key unlocks. Which is the key to life.