It has been just months since Clovermead Wickward discovered that she is really Demoiselle Cerelune Cindertallow — daughter of Lady Melisande Cindertallow, the sovereign of Chandlefort — and that the man she had called Father all her life was actually an embittered servant who stole her away when she was a baby. Since then, she has learned that she doesn't wholly care for life inside the walls of Chandlefort, and that she doesn't much like her mother's expectations for how a Demoiselle should behave — especially the bit about not changing shape anymore. When you can turn into a bear, being forced to stay human can be deadly dull.
Now Clovermead must confront dangerous secrets from her family's troubled past when a mysterious stranger appears in Chandlefort. Perhaps he is the old friend of Clovermead's real father, as he claims to be — or perhaps an old enemy of the Cindertallows who seeks a final revenge. When Clovermead unintentionally puts her mother's life in mortal peril, her only chance to make amends and save the mother she has just begun to know is to set off on a dangerous journey to a distant abbey. The life of her mother, the salvation of Chandlefort, and the freedom of the bears enslaved by the overwhelming power of Lord Ursus all depend on Clovermead.