Anais, the eleven-year-old daughter of a fishmonger, enters the Great House of Brightshire as a scullery maid. For years she suffers the drudgery of a scull, isolated from her peers, until a scribe offers to teach her how to read in exchange for her help in acquiring goods at fair prices in the market. When she discovers a manuscript describing the art of magic on a routine trip to town, she can’t help but feel tempted to try it, even though magic is strictly prohibited. Giving in to temptation, she starts spending her hours practicing simple spells for her own amusement, but when one of the girls from the kitchens goes missing – amidst rumors of monsters rising in the south and devouring townspeople – Anais decides to use her new skills to find the missing girl. In her search, she befriends the Lord of Brightshire’s youngest son, Cedric, and his cousin Mediera. The missing girl is found dead, and it isn’t long before the Great House is attacked and Anais must flee the city. Sadly, safety isn’t so easily found, and Anais finds herself at great risk attempting to keep the heirs of Brightshire alive.