Thirteen-year-old Ben Tracey is looking forward to spending the summer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his father has been hired to examine the valuable mineral Coltan that's being mined there. They soon realise that the people living in the village near the mine are frightened and it doesn't take long for Ben and his father to discover why: behind the door of every hut there is at least one person dying or seriously ill, and no one seems to be doing anything to help.
One night Halima, a girl from the village, takes Ben to see the witch doctor performing a ritual trance, asking the ancestral gods to rid the mine of the evil spirits who dwell there - none of the villagers believe that the sickness is malaria, as the rich mine owners are trying to claim.
Then Ben's father becomes ill and it's up to Ben to try and tell the government what's going on so the village can be isolated before the sickness spreads further. But he hasn't predicted the lengths that Suliman, the mine manager, will go to to prevent that from happening . . . Only just just escaping with their lives, Ben and Halima flee into the jungle, leaving Ben's father dangerously ill and the virus to spread unchecked. Will they be able to prevent disaster?