Twelve-year-old Mallie knows better than to dream. In Coal Top, you live the story you're given: boys toil in the mines and girls work as servants. Mallie can't bear the idea of that kind of life, but her family is counting on her wages to survive. It wasn't always this way. Before the Dust came, the people of Coal Top could weave starlight into cloth. They'd wear these dreaming clothes to sleep and wake up with the courage to seek adventure... or the peace to heal a broken heart. But now nothing can penetrate Coal Top's blanket of sorrow.
So when Mallie is chosen for a dangerous competition in which daring (and ideally, orphaned) children train flying horses, she jumps at the chance. Maybe she'll change her story. Maybe she'll even find the magic she needs to dream again. But the situation proves even more dangerous when Mallie uncovers a sinister mystery at the heart of Coal Top's struggles — a mystery some powerful people will do anything to protect.