In an enchanted land, one lone town outlaws magic. A great chimney dominates Isel Totterinton, spewing out magic-inhibiting praxilite, while guards arrest any magician they find. Yet at the end of the high street lies a small automaton shop, run by the mysterious Earnest Weatherdore and his granddaughter Claudine.
The shop’s mechanisms fascinate Peter Fawncrest from an early age. When he starts work there, he discovers he’s skilled at making the animated models. But soon, he learns not everything is as it seems. Brightly coloured mice scurry round the house. Are they just intricate automata or something more? And what lurks in a cabinet belonging to the shop’s main client?
Over the following years, Peter uncovers a hidden world of magic in the town, one that changes him beyond recognition, and leads him to uncover a secret that threatens to destroy his entire world.