As the city buzzes with anticipation over a pending execution, Penance grapples with a moral calling at odds with Amalia's plan. With the two women at a crossroads, the Orphans must decide whom to follow.
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.