Emily Nevin Cann Bell is a recent addition to Trundlewood Academy for Unwanted, Wayward, and Unusual Girls, fresh from a workhouse in É:lhal’s capital city, Cansem. Life at the Academy is pretty good. Sure, Sylvie seems determined to burn the school down; Ayn stalks the halls spouting her philosophy of radical self-reliance; and shy, refined Miles puts Emily’s stomach on spin cycle. And yes, there are occasional disruptions in the weather—like a horseradish storm—oddly timed to coincide with her dreams and journal entries. But for an orphan with three last names and no idea which one is correct, life is pretty good. That is, life was pretty good until self-proclaimed-and-quite-probably-false prophet Damacias figures out what none of the orphans, Emily included, knows: Trundlewood Academy is no ordinary school and the writing exercises aren’t your typical essays preparing for SATs. Everything that happens—your younger brother, that turnip hailstorm last weekend, the disappearance of a shade of violet from the color spectrum—is dictated by what these 30 teenage orphans living in an academy high on a mountain pass write during class. And Damacias isn’t happy about it. In fact, he accuses the students of witchcraft and usurping the power of The One True Author of the Universe. A spring break fishing expedition in Nonpa, followed by an epic kegger, secures Damacias the allegiance of several leading fraternities in Cansem and he actively recruits followers—known as Righteous Haddock—who must demonstrate their commitment to the One True Author by being baptized in condiments at The Holy Scrubbing Grounds in Gu’pl. But before Damacias can destroy Emily’s first and only true home, he’ll have to contend with Trundlewood Academy’s Board of Trustees, an assortment of wealthy, powerful, and strange people, several of whom have questionable motives for joining the board in the first place. Some, like Marcellus Barculo whose family made its fortune enslaving and selling wild animals to the circus, blatantly assist Damacias’ campaign. Bestselling romance writer and former Trundlewood student Bettina Van Vleck just joined the board to keep a competitive eye on the budding writing talent at the Academy. At least the orphans can always count on assistance from Lily Ludlow, the Academy's librarian who sports literary tattoos across her forearms and the word “Bookworm” inked across her knuckles. And Warlord Liam Waters is always available to rescue a damsel in distress, even if he has no use for one in his romantic life. The battle that ensues will answer the age-old question: Which is mightier, the pen or the sword?