The first volume of the Five Stones trilogy begins harmlessly enough: the Thompson family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Thompson and their three boys: Chase, (13) Knox (12) and Teddy (6) have just decamped from the suburbs for Fells Harbor, the coastal village that is home to Summerledge—an old family house perched at the edge of the sea and haunted by a history of love and loss. Upon arrival at Summerledge, all is not as it should be. The sudden appearance of two adopted sisters, Evelyn (12) and her sister, Frankie (9), is the first indication that this will be a summer like none previously. Then, the unexpected departure of Mr. Thompson hastens an impetuous act—casting all five children on a boat, out to sea, and into the grip of a suffocating fog.
Adrift at sea, blind, and afraid for their lives, they brace themselves for a sickening crash only to find they are being swept ashore upon an island that is at once reassuringly familiar and impossibly strange. The children first encounter the wayfarer, Seaborne, who tells them his own story of shipwreck and how he came to live on Ayda; an island of extraordinary beauty and absolute terror, wrapped in a thick blanket of impenetrable fog. The children camp at the edge of the forest of Melor, one of the four realms of Ayda. As they learn more about their surroundings, they quickly come to realize that they have landed somewhere outside of time—and beyond rescue.