With the city reeling from Maladie's opera debut, Mundi takes a personal stake in tracking her down, while Amalia launches an investigation of her own. Meanwhile, the charitable Lavinia Bidlow seeks to destigmatize the Touched at a society event, Hugo Swann enlists Lavinia's younger brother Augie to help monetize his illicit enterprise, and a deranged doctor conducts a series of experiments.
In the last years of Victoria's reign, London is beset by the 'Touched': people - mostly women - who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities, some charming, some very disturbing. Among them are Amalia True, a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair, a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of... well, pretty much all the forces - to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place.