Josie is an orphan who is a knife thrower in a stage show, forming a team with her guardian, the magician Cardamom. With the arrival of three terrifying old crones, who morph from human form to giant, bloodthirsty crows, or 'ghuls', and back again in the flap of a wing, Josie's life is turned upside down. People close to her die, she discovers a brother that she never knew existed and finds herself in mortal danger, before embarking on a quest to find a mysterious flower, which gives the power of life and death to whoever holds it. Who or what is Mortlock, and will the ghuls rip Josie to pieces? Throw in an evil Lord, a ghostly circus and a misty swamp and you've got the most gripping story I've read in ages.