Will had never been out of England, so he couldn't compare it with anywhere he knew, but it was the kind of place where people came out late at night to eat and drink, dance and enjoy music. Except that there was no one here, and the silence was immense.
The world of Cittagazze is a an unsettling place: the silence, the empty streets, the threat of horrible death from the soul-eating Spectres, from which only children are safe...
Into this world comes Will, who has killed a man and is on the run. Almost at once he meets the strange, savage young girl called Lyra, and soon the discover that they haven't met by accident. Their paths will take them to the mysteroius Torre degli Angeli, where they must somehow acquire Cittagazze's most important secret: an object which people from many worlds would kill to possess.
But Will has his own task as well: he must find the father he has never known. Could it be that his quest, and Lyra's, are part of the same larger one?