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In the enchanted village of Lourka, almost-twelve-year-old Linny breaks an ancient law. Girls are forbidden to so much as touch the town's namesake musical instrument before their twelfth birthday or risk being spirited away. But Linny can't resist the call to play a lourka, so she builds one herself.
When the punishment strikes her best friend instead, Linny must leave home to try to set things right. With her father's young apprentice, Elias, along for the journey, Linny travels from the magical wrinkled country to the scientific land of the Plain, where she finds herself at the center of a battle between the logical and the magical.
Sophie and Grace have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counselor Dr. Charlotte Agford (also known as Dr. Awkward).
At least, they think they do. When the girls are proven wrong, they are still convinced that Dr. Agford is hiding a terrible secret—and they're determined to find out what it is. Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers with unibrows and Texas accents. But as their investigation heats up, Sophie and Grace start to crack under the pressure. Will solving the case destroy their friendship?