When Horace Carpenter begins to court plain looking and painfully shy Ada Hawkins she can't believe her good fortune. He is handsome, charming, and owns his own thriving business - the town's mortuary. After the wedding she learns that he expects to gain even more respect by being the son-in-law of the richest and most respected man, Dr. Hawkins. But when the doctor is discovered performing illegal surgeries he looses everything - including his life.
Horace takes his anger out on Ada with abuse and inforced isolation.
When Ada discoveres that she is pregnant she hides it from her husband, fearing he might cause her to have a miscarriage. When the baby is born his first reaction is rage. But he quickly realizes that if he appears to be a wonderful father the townspeople will think even higher of him.
Horace tells Ada that they must celebrate their son's second birthday by having a huge birthday party. The party is great success. After the guests leave, Horace directs Ada to clean the kitchen while he takes care of the baby.
Ada hears her son scream, and she rushes to the stairwell where his voice had come from. When she get there she sees him lying at the bottom the stairs - he turns his head and looks up at his mother. Horace tells her to call the doctor. When she returns after making the call she sees that the baby is no longer looking up. His head is now in an awkward position. He is no longer moving.
Horace taunts his wife that he has killed the "bastard" and there's nothing she can do about it. If she calls him a murderer he will tell everyone that she has lost her mind, that it was her fault the child died. He then tells her he has murdered before and always got by with it.
Ada begins plotting how she can get revenge for the horible things he has done, and also keep him from killing others. It takes her many months to do it, but eventually she kills him in a way that is most painful to him, yet also undectable as a murder.
When Ada is an old woman reunites with Emily, a woman who she had befriended when Emily was a child. While Emily cares for her, Ada tells her the secrets of her life. She explains that she stayed living in the mortuary even after Horace died because his evil spirit still lingered there and that it was her duty to protect others from him.
After Ada dies Emily is shocked to learn that Ada left her the mortuary and all of her other assetts. In the will Ada stated that Emily would know what she must do with the old, haunted, building. Emily isn't so sure that she does.