Twelve-year-old Natalie discovers that her roots are in another world when she's kidnapped by the evil wizard Hawk. Her captor wants to make her one of his bonded spellmages, which will enable him and his Casters to receive the Power of Thirteen, and invade the enchanted realm of Earthaven, which banished him long ago. Natalie must find aid from Hawk's intimidated apprentice/captive Merlin, the Spell Lords, and the few in her own world who know of Earthaven's existence.
The novel includes examples of:
- Bad People Abuse Animals: When Hawk kidnaps Natalie, the dog she's walking is killed.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Non-villainous and non-sexual example. After Natalie escapes to the Council of Oq with the young boy Merlin, the Council insists that the two children bathe in a special cleansing pool before being brought to address them. Swimsuits are not provided, so Natalie cleans up in her underwear, while Merlin winds up diving in fully clothed, in a clumsy and unnecessary attempt to rescue her from eating a fruit he doesn't trust. Since he can't swim, the effort nearly drowns him instead.
- Blind Without 'Em: Natalie can barely see without her glasses, which makes it easier for Hawk to hold her captive by taking them. This may be connected to the fact that Natalie's mother was from Earthaven, since Earthaven residents are usually blind in another world.
- Dirty Old Man: It's implied, though not outright stated, that Hawk was involved in taking Natalie's clothes while she was unconscious.
- Fake Weakness: Hawk takes Natalie's spider Itsy, since controlling a wizard's familiar allows you to control the wizard. It's too bad for him that Itsy is just a pet, and that feeding the spider to his hawk fails to bind her in any way whatsoever.
- Familiar: Wizards on both sides use familiars, and Hawk's Caster typically take their names from their animal, such as Hawk, Merlin, Fish, etc. In worlds where a spell caster is unable to see, they can view their surroundings through the eyes of their familiar instead. However, the familiar can also be used to threaten and harm a wizard, as when Hawk first pulls a leg off of Natalie's spider Itsy, and then feeds the spider to his hawk in order to bind Natalie to his service. It doesn't work because Itsy isn't her familiar.
- Forgot I Couldn't Swim: As Natalie washes up in the cleansing pool, Merlin sees her about to eat a soulfruit, which the Casters have taught him is deadly. He dives in to try to save Natalie despite being unable to swim and instead has to be rescued by her.
- Fully-Clothed Nudity: Merlin blushes furiously when Natalie gets out of bed before he can warn her that Hawk took her clothes - even though she's wearing a shift that covers her to her knees. On realizing her state, however, Natalie reacts the same way, quickly wrapping up in a blanket. Possibly justified in that she's 12 and he's 11.
- Go-Go Enslavement: When Natalie wakes up from her kidnapping, she finds her clothes have been taken and replaced with a thin knee-length shift.
- I Kiss Your Foot: Hawk demands that Natalie kiss his boot to prove to herself and Merlin that she's been dominated. She does so to cover up the fact that her mind is still her own.
- Invisible to Normals: Hawk leaves a discarded spell for Natalie, which looks like random litter to normals but can be seen and used by those with magical blood. When her interest is caught by it, it confirms that she's the one he's looking for.
- Mind Control: Hawk uses Natalie's familiar to dominate her mind. Or thinks he does, since the animal he uses isn't actually her familiar, but simply a random pet.
- Mind Wipe: It's Spell Lord policy to erase the memory of any non-magical humans who learn of them or Earthaven. They attempt this on Natalie's stepbrother Tim, but are interrupted.
- Missing Mom: Natalie's blind mother drowned when Natalie was young, in what's falsely believed to be an accident.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Natalie's father, Mr. Marlins, seems like a washed-up drunk with a Cool Car - until he finds out from her stepbrother Tim that Natalie has been kidnapped. He immediately knows why she's likely been taken, where to look and who to talk to, and takes Tim with him in hot pursuit. Granted, it's to offer Tim in exchange, but still.
- World Tree: The Soultrees are so huge that walking from one end to another may take days. The trees also have numerous magical properties, such as providing food and shelter for mages, as well as housing the souls of dead mages, which allows relatives to visit and speak with them.
- Wrong Assumption: Natalie doesn't believe that magic exists at first, and is quick to explain away effects as fireworks, pranks, psychology, etc. In the early chapters, this leads her to conclude that she's been kidnapped by a bizarre cult.