This collection of sixteen short stories is set in Egg Rock, a fictional town north of Boston. They are written in approximate chronological order spanning hundreds of years and are linked not only by the setting but by the reappearance of characters, their ancestors, and descendants. Many are loosely based on local North Shore legends and historical events. Ragnhild is an adviser to Thorvald Eiriksson, son of Erik the Red and brother of Leif, on his voyages to Vinland. He describes their discovery of an idyllic almost island during Thorvalds last days. Ezra Newhall is a jack-of-all-trades who works at Egg Rocks sprawling, jerry-built hotel, called The Castle. On the eve of the Civil War the Castle owners son returns home with a secret that is about to be revealed. Priscilla, a writer seeking peace and quiet in a secluded Egg Rock cottage during World War II, gets swept up by the war in a way she could never anticipate. Mayland, a TV weatherman, and his wife barely survive a devastating fire, the work of an arsonist with a hundred-year grudge. In Forty Steps and Other Stories the reader discovers a unique place that leaves its imprint, for better or for worse, on all who call it home.