Before Layla Holden can start her freshman year at Coltin High, she receives an unexpected invitation to attend a private school she's never heard of. She doesn't hesitate to accept, eager to escape the close-minded small town where she's been taunted and teased for seeing otherworldly creatures. Anywhere has to be better than home.
Yet she's only permitted to go if she brings her twin sister Sabine along for the ride.
Inside the walls of the castle-like fortress on the isolated campus, the girls find many secrets and hidden mysteries. Layla's never shied from challenges and is determined to pass her first year. However, with more unusual and bigger monsters lurking at the school, she struggles to keep her ability a secret. On top of the pressure to succeed in the competitive school, she also attracts the attention of a new student, Flynn Madsen. He's not the only one who's curious about her, but he seems to have the same gift of sensing these supernatural beings.
In a new school, it's impossible to know who to trust and what to believe. By keeping her own secrets closely guarded, Layla has to have faith in herself. Not her bookish roomie, not the cute new boy who seems too curious about her. Because sometimes holding your own secrets can overpower the need to unravel others--a fine balance of controlling your fears or letting them destroy you.
No longer afraid of her ability to see supernatural creatures, Layla looks forward to continuing at the Academy and learning more about her power—without anyone the wiser, hopefully. Easier said than done with her elven date quickly approaching.
When ancient creatures attack, she can’t help but demonstrate what she’s capable of. In doing so, she realizes there is plenty to uncover in Olde Earth’s true mission. The Academy’s council becomes concerned about the strength of the powers she shouldn’t possess yet—enough that they relocate her to new classes. Adapting to schedule changes isn’t so bad, but it’s not all she has on her plate. While she aims to find out who captured the scaled flying horse that saved her life, she also struggles to deal with her irritating sister and a changing friendship with Flynn.
With deceptive instructors, sketchy so-called friends, and the traditional families who insist on keeping the elf lineages as pure as possible, Layla begins to see that the Academy isn’t so much about sharing information as it is for reaping it. Which makes discovering certain truths a competition for survival.
Now that her powers are fully realized, Layla questions how she’ll truly fit in at the Academy—if she can at all. As a Pure elf, she wields a combination of abilities that attract too much trouble. Her peers envy her and her enemies challenge her, but with Flynn and their mentors at her side, she does the best she can to make this year a peaceful one.
But it seems her junior year at Olde Earth isn’t going to be easy. Not with one professor hell-bent on manipulating her to do her dirty work. And with one of the council members determined to force her into cooperating with his mad-scientist experiments. Or the headmistress tricking her into believing those she calls friends are actually foes.
Very few are empowered as Pure elves, and Layla struggles to own her strengths. Finding out about her mother and her family history presents a new headache of its own. Because before Layla can look forward to a balance of her responsibilities and her skills, she must have the courage to overcome the darkness of the past.
As her senior year approaches, Layla has conflicting emotions, wondering if Olde Earth is truly the best place for her. Sure, the Academy is the only school that caters to her elven abilities. But she could finish high school anywhere. Like somewhere without angry relatives jealous of her powers. Or someplace where the school’s council doesn’t threaten her life with uncontrollable experiments.
Yet as classes resume, she’s not the only one lacking a sense of welcome. One instructor disappears, another resigns.
There are bound to be adjustments as students prepare to transition to life after graduation, but Layla must first choose in which direction she wants to continue. In order to plan for her future, she needs to find the courage to defend who she is—and not let her powers decide her fate.
Four years of high school at the Academy were rife with secrets, drama, and danger. Now, heading into a college program that has her at the main campus and abroad, Layla wonders what to expect as she heads back out to the “real” world. She might be distanced from some of the headaches of being at the Academy, but how will she fit outside of it?
From the get-go, she’s challenged with new dilemmas. She meets an elf from the Aquine sect, a guy who seems way too intrigued with her powers. Flynn grumbles about a long-distance relationship. Wolf goes AWOL instead of accompanying her at campus. And when she returns to the Academy for clinicals in the Menagerie, news of hacked security files sets everyone on edge.
On top of it all, Layla’s firm in her promise to keep her family’s gemstone—a rare neala—safe until the council understands how it works. Yet as she faces complicating obligations, is the challenge she’s accepted too large to handle?
Layla passes her first semester of college—with more than a challenge from the Aquine forces of power—but she’s failed in one major way. She’s revealed that she does indeed possess her family’s neala, something her enemies seem too excited about. Identifying exactly who is after her gemstone is another matter, something Layla asks her up-and-coming hacker best friend for help with.
She’s butted heads with Flynn about her recklessness and stubborn independence, but now she’s aware she needs all the help she can get when it’s clear her unidentifiable nemesis is threatening her. Paige scours stolen files, Ivelis reaches out for Olden tools of the trade, and a new trainer pushes her stamina so she can fight back.
When it seems her family and friends might be at risk, Layla buckles down to determine why anyone would be so adamant on securing her neala. But what happens when resisting a threat comes with a heavy price?
With her friend killed and her necklace taken, Layla is rocked to the core. All she can focus on is seeking revenge, but that’s one task easier said than done with the Ancience’s ability to stay under the radar. Meanwhile, in teaming up with the council, she learns of a clue about what her family’s neala might mean.
Half of her allies at the Academy travel for answers, splitting her from Flynn, who’s made a change in his plans for college. Determined to avoid more secrecy and lies, Layla goes to sources who reveal that her elf powers are more powerful than she ever could have imagined.
When there’s finally a chance to chase down the top members of the Ancience, Layla’s ready to test out her newfound skills. Releasing such power raises more questions, though. It invites danger to her and her friends, plus the risk of exposing the existence of elves to the rest of the world.
Hoping to stay one step ahead of the enemy in a perilous game of research that threatens the whole world, she must own up to her lies and take a chance on embracing her identity as one of the keepers of elves.
Learning that her biological parent is not only alive but also the head of the Ancience, Layla grapples with facing her true enemy: family. Her own flesh and blood is responsible for abusing longmas and seeking ultimate power by holding the world’s water hostage. Even though her allies at the Academy have Professor Bateson in custody, there is no simple way to stop the pollutants the Ancience has unleashed.
The last resort is finding the lost frame, as well as all three of the keeper stones it holds. Lore states that the trio of powers can be combined in one tool, and Layla’s determined to use it for good.
Searching for the last keeper stone proves to be more difficult than she could imagine, though, because in digging deep into her own history, she must confront the possibility she is both the answer—and the problem.
In the face of such challenging news, she must rescue her friends and her true father from the Ancience’s control while wielding otherworldly power. In the end, can she save the world?