In 1875 Hans Bengler, a young entomologist, leaves Sweden for an expedition to the Kalahari Desert where he hopes to find a previously undiscovered insect. Instead, after his arduous journey through the sands, he finds a small boy. Accustomed to collecting specimens, Bengler decides to adopt the boy and names him Daniel. He takes the boy home with him to Sweden and plans to "civilise" him. But Daniel cannot slip into an alien culture, and a new life in the cold and snow, so easily. His only consolation comes from his friendship with a young girl called Sanna, who is also an outsider. But even this bond is destined to be violently broken, as Daniel’s increasing desperation leads to a chilling tragedy.