Hamelin is only a few weeks old as he and his parents, Johnnie and Simon, flee from trackers. Certain of their eventual capture and desperate for their son’s survival, Johnnie and Simon devise a plan that lands Hamelin in a nearby orphanage. As Hamelin grows up in this nontraditional home, people begin to notice that he is “always looking for something or someone else.”
After their inevitable capture, Hamelin’s parents are imprisoned in a nearby world under the control of the ruthless Ren’dal, all the while remembering the son they have abandoned. As Hamelin grows, he learns to deal with some of life’s biggest challenges: making friends, dealing with bullies, and understanding why the people he cares about the most always have to leave him.
When the children’s home forgets his eighth birthday, Hamelin decides to run away. This decision, however, proves to be something more—a summons from the Ancient One. Guided by the Great Eagle through a mysterious cave, Hamelin is immediately put to a dangerous test of courage. He soon discovers that the answers to his personal issues of identity, parents, and home are tied up with otherworldly battles between kingdoms of good and evil, powerful rulers, and a journey across the Tunnel of Times to the Atrium of the Worlds. Hamelin comes to discover the true weight of fear and courage as he realizes he is called to embark on an amazing adventure that is bigger than himself. His failures and hopes become part of a larger story where the old myths of magic, evil contracts, and enslaved children turn out to be real.
Using his sophisticated, yet poetic, writing style and dynamic storyline, Sloan quickens the imagination of readers as they enter the cave and make their way with Hamelin to the footbridge across a dark chasm. Sloan successfully shows that fantasy can not only allow “bold and graphic pictures of good and evil, right and wrong, what it means to be human, and what it means to experience evil, destruction, and inhumanity,” but also “stir the heart and the mind toward courage and hope.”