On a quest to uncover the truth about her missing father, a relentless young girl wanders deep into the forest at the whim of a cryptic poem and discovers a world inside the mind of the Dreaming Tree.
A hundred children are missing. One vengeful child cloaked in a tattered teddy bear suit has gathered a cult of runaways deep in the forest to build a camp around a pit of roiling tree roots--a portal to the mystic forest dreamscape called the Dark Garden. The leader of the Milk Carton Kids, Animus, seeks a hand mirror that manifests great power within the Dark Garden--a power capable of trapping the adults within the arboreal dream world forever. But Animus has dark plans for the Dark Garden, and the dreamscape becomes a hellscape--a place to punish adults eternally for the vapid, cruel world they've built.
Mallory has been kept under her grandfather's protective eye her entire life, homeschooled and living with him as her only family. Regaled for years by stories of her missing father's globetrotting adventures, Mallory embarks on a quest to live up to his legend by saving the Milk Carton Kids. But when she discovers her father's gnarled, tree-like spirit roaming the mirror world of the Dark Garden, she embarks on a quest to free him from the mystic realm.
Her journey takes her from the depths of Brookwood Forest to the top of Satellite City's Moonreach Tower; from the desert ruins of the Detestable Festival Carnival Caravan to the Lost Settlement of Moonblush Village; and from the Hermit's Hideaway at the peak of Mt. Skyladder back to the heart of the forest to face off against Animus in the Dark Garden. Along the way, the mystery she tears open is much greater than she could've imagined, and everything she thought she knew unravels in the wake of her warpath to uncover the truth about her notorious father--a devastating truth hidden from her since the day she was born.
With her new Cloud Academy friends, the shy aristocratic Isaac and the misanthropic warrior-philosopher Saki, Mallory scours the quaint nooks and autumnal reaches of their home county and uncovers a wild world inside the dreams of the living forest.