Do you believe in fate? After suffering separate personal tragedies, Cryptozoologist Mike Kellogg and teen-aged Sara Williams are thrown together in Alton, Illinois when Mike goes to investigate reports of the reappearance of the unproven-to-science creature known as the Piasa.
The mural of the Piasa, which according to early Native American residents meant ‘the bird that devoured men, is painted on thebluffs near the town of Alton, Illinois. The dragon-like depiction overlooks what the Ojibwe Tribe called misi-ziibi…the Mississippi River.
Following an auto accident that claims her entire family, Sara Williams, a Chicago teenager, finds herself left with an aunt who runs a Bed & Breakfast in the Great River town. Her cousin, Pamela Sweet, an Alton police officer, tries to help her cope with her physical and mental scars from the disaster.
After an earthquake shakes the nearby bluffs, Sara discovers the area is plagued by the disappearance of many outdoor pets and small animals. People are reporting various strange creatures in and around the river. Some think the Piasa has returned.
Mike Kellogg, a Chicago museum cryptozoologist, arrives to join a local search team in an effort to answer the question; Did the Piasa once actually exist? By chance he stays at her Aunt’s B&B and takes Sara as his assistant in the search. Driven by the hope she may one day return to her friends in Chicago, Sara blossoms into a sassy assistant who discovers that fate has a plan for her and . . . the legend may be more fact than fiction.
The Native American legend:
In 1673, while voyaging down the Mississippi River, French explorers Marquette and Joliet, came across the painting of a strange creature up on the bluffs, high above the river near the area of Alton, Illinois. The beast, a conglomeration of bird, animal, reptile and fish characteristics, was sketched in Marquette’s diary. The native American tribe who lived there, the Illini, told them they had no idea who painted it; in fact it had always been there. The Illini called the creature the Piasa, which in their language meant, “the bird that devoured men.” While the original painting was later destroyed by early settlers, the town has continued to paint an image of the Piasa on the bluffs along the river down to the present day. There have been all kinds of theories as to who painted the original and why, but the truth is: no one really knows.