"A coin for passage to your heart's desire," says Agnes, Guardian of the Wishing Well in the village of Bishop Mayne. "That is the first rule." But Nuria doesn't think she needs a wish. Wishing on the Well is dangerous. Wishes often go wrong. That's why there are no other children around. A wish-gone-wrong took them all away. But now, because her grandfather, the Avy, has wished for them to come back, Nuria is sure that the one thing she wants -- a friend her own age -- will soon be there.
"One wish each lifetime," says Agnes. "One cycle of the moon to repent and call it back. That is the second rule." Only a fool would make a wish that needs to be called back, Nuria thinks. But that's before she meets Catty Winter, who cannot walk, whose legs are mysteriously crippled. "Make a wish for me," Catty pleads. And Nuria is tempted. But what if the wish goes wrong?
"And for that cycle of the moon your lips are locked in this: To no one may you speak of your wish. To no one but to me, for your wish is my wish too. That is the third rule." Nuria has given little thought to the third rule. But there come moments when she wishes it did not exist. The Wishing Well, she is trickier than anyone has known.
The Wishing Well in Bishop Mayne has a mind of its own and creates problems for all who try to use its power. Few have gotten anything but misery from it. Knowing this, however, does not keep Nuria, in a time of dire need, from trying to accomplish what few others have managed.
Beauty and greed, warmth and cold, walk hand in hand in this unusual fantasy to create an adventure filled with friendship, challenge, and the magic of love.
In this first novel, an orphaned 11-year-old, freed from a torturous life with her aunt, discovers a wishing well when she moves in with her grandfather but quickly learns the danger of getting what you ask for. Ages 8-12.