The Manhattan School for Magic is the newest kindling school in New York, but Maeve O'Donnell knows she doesn't deserve her place there. Though her sister, Izzy, is one of the school's founders and a hero to those who can now kindle, Maeve can't control her magic and she lives in fear of anyone?especially Izzy?finding out.
When Maeve's worst fears come true and her magic goes rogue, it damages not only the new school but Izzy's reputation as well. While trying to repair what she's broken, Maeve discovers a mysterious garden in the tenement neighborhood of the Tarnish, a hidden place where her magic actually works. As her magic and confidence grow, she befriends the others for whom the garden is a haven: a litter of talking kittens (house dragons, of course) who need Maeve's help to find their missing mother. But someone else is searching for the kittens, too, someone who doesn't care how many magical sites they have to destroy to stop magic's expansion. And Maeve's unstable magic might be the only way to save her sister's school from being snuffed out next.