Throughout Thaddeus Cane's life his father, Nathan, has uprooted them, usually without warning, to move to a new state, a new town, a new school. Thaddeus has never lived in one place long enough to make good friends, to feel like he belonged. Raised by his widowed father, Thaddeus has no memory of his mother. The only impression he’s had of her while growing up is a black-and-white photograph his father keeps in his bedroom. When he’s asked about her over the years, his father has always told him that she died, but Thaddeus has no idea how or when. Because of their frequent moves, many with very little warning, Thaddeus has never really experienced a peaceful place to call home.
It’s not until Thaddeus and his father arrive in the small town of Superstition that things start to change. They move into yet another rental house and set about unpacking the few belongings they haul around the country with them. From his bedroom window, Thaddeus can see over the tall privacy fence into the yard next door. The wide variety of well-tended flowers practically vibrate with color, and he wonders about his neighbors, hoping they will be friendly. Later that night, he sees a boy moving in the garden, humming in a quiet and soothing manner as he works among the plants. Fireflies flit around him, seeming to hover near him, and Thaddeus finds this unusual and enchanting.
Without realizing it, Thaddeus has just had a glimpse into another world that resides within the reality he's known all throughout his life. This is an important moment for him, as it is the catalyst to his journey of self-discovery and a dangerous battle for peace. When he eventually meets the boy next door, Thaddeus learns his name is Teofil, and he is a garden gnome. The fireflies following him around the yard are fairies, and the old man Teofil lives with is a wizard named Leopold. There is so much Thaddeus needs to understand, and so much he wants to learn.
But with these new introductions come troubles as well, for all of them. Thaddeus and his friends face struggles and danger as they embark on a journey to stop a witch and wizard intent on killing him and his father for reasons he does not understand. Along the way, Thaddeus learns the truth about his mother’s fate, and although some of the questions he's had his whole life are finally answered, more arise to take their place. On their travels, as turmoil churns around him, Thaddeus is able to catch fleeting moments of peace with Teofil. They set out on the quest as friends and fall in love along the way. Bravery and sacrifice on both their parts test and strengthen their bond.
While part of the adventure comes to an end over the course of the first three books in the Town of Superstition series—The Midnight Gardener, The Well of Tears, and The Battle of Iron Gulch—more troubles will plague Thaddeus in the fourth book, A Tangle of Secrets, available from Harmony Ink Press on December 26.
Thaddeus’s new adventure starts off with an activity he’s become very familiar with: attending a brand-new school. Trouble finds him quickly on the first day as he encounters the school bully, but Thaddeus also meets a few new friends, and they help him feel better. Outside of school, he spends time with Teofil as they attempt to track down the last of the wizards who wish to harm Thaddeus and his family and friends. Their parents feel they are too young to continue the investigation on their own, however, and put a stop to their research and explorations.
As the school year progresses, a distance grows between Thaddeus and Teofil. It makes Thaddeus feel sad and a little angry, and he lashes out at those around him. He’s been through a lot over the summer months, not to mention all the years leading up to these revelations, and he’s certain no one can understand what he’s been through or how he feels.
When he practices conjuring magic, a darker power seems to be edging in on his abilities. Thaddeus is tentative with this darkness at first but soon welcomes it as his powers grow stronger. With his increased power comes a quicker temper, however, and Thaddeus gets in trouble at school, a first for him. Once home, he argues with his father about the resulting punishment and fumes when it is doubled. As he sulks at home, one of his new friends from school convinces him to sneak out and attend a dance. A confrontation there with the school bully escalates quickly, and Thaddeus is suddenly thrust into a fight with deadly consequences. Secrets are revealed, bonds are tested, and Thaddeus and those he loves must make some difficult decisions to finally find some peace.
It’s been a long journey, and Thaddeus is very different from the boy who first moved to Superstition. He’s fallen in love, learned about his family history, and worked hard to develop his ability to conjure magic. Thaddeus is on a much different path than he ever expected, but with Teofil at his side and his father’s guidance, he is more hopeful than ever. And from that hope springs a deeper sense of peace at last.