From the flap:
In Mary's world there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
The story starts in Mary's now, although we don't know when that is. Mary has been raised on her great-great-great-grandmother's stories of the sea, passed down to her by Mary's mother. Mary has never seen the sea, Mary's mother never did, and a lot of people believe that it's only a myth, that there is nothing beyond the fence of the village but the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But Mary believes differently, and it's this belief that there is something else out there that sets her apart from everyone else in the village. It's also what gets her into trouble with the Sisterhood, the nunlike women who run the village with an iron fist. Part Catholic church, part cult, the Sisterhood is responsible for the people within the village; teaching, healing, and preaching to the villagers.
They are also one half of the group--the other half are the Guardians, the ones who physically protect the fence--that protects the village from the Unconsecrated, the walking dead. No one remembers how or why the Unconsecrated came into being, but everyone knows what these mindless beings want; flesh and blood, and they're absolutely determined to tear every last one of the villagers within Mary's village to shreds. That is why maintaining the fence that encircles their village is so important; it's the only thing that keeps them from being overrun by the Unconsecrated.
Both Mary's belief that she will one day see the sea and the Unconsecrated's determination to tear the village apart come to a head when Mary discovers that the Sisterhood is hiding someone within their Cathedral.
Someone who came from outside the fence.
From beyond the Forest of Hand and Teeth.
Her existence would shake everything the Sisterhood has ever told the village. Proof that there are people living elsewhere. Proof that there is a way past the Unconsecrated. Proof that the ocean might exist.
Proof that Mary has spent her whole life wishing for and the only thing that might save her the day the Unconsecrated breach the fence.