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Meg Pickel's older brother, Orion, has disappeared. One night, Meg steals out to look for him and makes two surprising discoveries: She stumbles upon a seance that she suspects involves Orion, and she meets the author Charles Dickens, also unable to sleep, and roaming the London streets. He is a customer of Meg's father, who owns a print shop, and a family friend. Mr. Dickens fears for Orion's safety and for the children of London, and is trying to solve the mystery of their many disappearances. If he can, with Meg's help, then perhaps Dickens will be able to write once again.