West Virginia, 1895
A deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn't account for much in times so terrible, except to the 12-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.
His quest leads Elliot into the depths of an abandoned mine, with a peculiar pocket watch, a blind burro, and a gutsy girl at his side. He finds a world he never dreamed of, even in his worst nightmares, and lands smack in the middle of a war between two kingdoms. Monstrous insects, smiling villains, and dark riddles are everywhere.
Elliot must decide who to trust. The horrible Prince LeVane is turning the entire world to dust, has enslaved hundreds of children, and is working his father to death. If Elliot doesn't go to the water lands to retrieve the mysterious knife that LeVane demands, his father will die. Or should Elliot trust the fascinating water nymph, Queen Tosia, who says she will help him rescue his father?