A novel by Creator/DianaWynneJones. The protagonist's father--an author--is visited by a mysterious figure, who demands that he write two thousand words of gibberish.

While investigating, Howard and his sister Awful learn that their town is secretly controlled by seven mysterious siblings -- Archer, Torquil, Dillian, Hathaway, Shine, Erskine, and Venturus -- at least one of whom seems to be thinking in terms of "tomorrow, the world".

Adapted as a TV mini-series in 1992.
!!Tropes include:

* AmnesiacDissonance: [[spoiler:Venturus spends over a decade in a new identity, with no memory of his former self. When he starts encountering evidence of what he used to be like, he doesn't approve.]]
* AmbiguouslyGay: Torquil. Has a great love for theatrical outfits (eyeliner included), shopping, and disco dancers. This trope is even more true for the TV miniseries.
* DumbMuscle: The Goon. [[spoiler: Except [[ObfuscatingStupidity he's]] [[GeniusBruiser not.]]]]
* FountainOfYouth [[spoiler: Venturus]].
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler:Archer's fate is ultimately sealed by the typewriter he enchanted.]]
* LargeAndInCharge: Shine. [[spoiler: Erskine as well.]]
* LeftHanging: The origins of the seven siblings is never explained.
* LittleMissSnarker: Awful - when she isn't screaming instead.
* LukeIAmYourFather: Only with siblings.
* ManOfWealthAndTaste: Archer, more so in the miniseries than the book.
* MacGuffin: The 2000 words. [[spoiler: They do nothing, Venturus set them up to mislead the others and to give his adoptive father tax-free income.]]
* MagicalSeventhSon: Although all the siblings are magical, the seventh son is supposed to have twice the gifts of the others.
* MeaningfulName: Venturus, its meaning isn't mentioned in the book but the tv series has Quentin translate it as "he who is to come" in Latin.
* MouthyKid: Awful.
* MuggleFosterParents: [[spoiler:Quentin and Catriona, to Howard/Venturus.]]
* NiceGuy: Hathaway is the only one of the siblings who comes across as a completely decent person, although some of the others are trying to improve.
* ObfuscatingStupidity [[spoiler: Erskine]].
* OvernightAgeUp: When Howard and Awful visit the home of Venturus, which is in the future, they're both temporarily aged up into young adults until they leave.
* PortalToThePast: A door in the museum turns out to be a portal. Handy.
* RewritingReality: Archer enchants a typewriter to do this.
* RuleOfSeven: Several things to do with the seven siblings.
* SecondaryCharacterTitle: Neither Archer nor the Goon are the lead character. The Goon plays a large role but the protaganist and viewpoint character is Howard.
* StoutStrength: Shine, who runs around with a ''rocket launcher'' at one point.
* {{Stripperiffic}}/HellBentForLeather: Shine. She's somewhat fatter than your usual Vamp, though.
* TakeOverTheWorld: Most of the siblings have this as their goal as soon as they can leave the city.
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Shine and Dillian.
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler:When Howard finally tracks down Venturus' lair and learns where he's been hiding all this time.]]
* TooSpicyForYogSothoth: Dillian is easily able to use her magic to charm Howard and Fifi, but Awful is simply too... awful.
* WhamLine: [[spoiler:"You finished now? Or do we go around another thirteen years?"]]
* WhereDoesHeGetAllThoseWonderfulToys: While Archer's wonderful toys wow everyone else, they only manage to piss Quentin off, since he realizes (correctly) that they were paid for with redirected taxes.
* {{Zeerust}}: Venturus' ship-building robots have voices that sound like mouth organs.
** Everything in Venturus' futuristic temple and spaceship deliberately evokes this, since they represent the childlike Venturus' romanticized sci-fi ''view'' of the future.