Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage. But when an attempted escape doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary. The matron's all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown, and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high.
Fate - is it written in the stars from the moment we are born, or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? Jepp of Astraveld needs to know. He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in the strange, luxurious prison that is Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that, as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakeable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them, but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer.