It is night, and I have lit the first of seven candles to write my story by. My name is Coriander Hobie, and I have a great many things to tell–of silver shoes that tempted me and an alligator most rare; of London, the home of my childhood, and another, stranger land, one that I thought only existed in dreams; and of an ebony box whose treasure only now am I beginning to understand. The box was once my mother’s, but its secrets were meant for me. This being my story and a fairy tale besides, I will start once upon a time . . .