Young poetess Rose Elliot buys a book from a local antique dealer, a diary in Latin of an architect, E. Varelli. She learns of the Three Mothers, and believes her apartment building is one of their houses. She pleads her brother Mark, who is studying musicology in Rome, to come, because she is afraid. Mark's friend Sara reads her letter, which he left behind in class, and discovers the school is run by the Mater Lacrimarum, and is killed for this knowledge. The house of Mater Suspiriorum has already been destroyed, and by the time Mark arrives in New York City, he is investigating his sister's murder.