Abused teenaged runaway Matilda “Matt” Black survived precariously on the streets until she came to terms with the magical abilities that allow her to talk to inanimate objects shaped by humans—and to open “dream eyes” to read people’s hopes and desires. On a cold winter’s day she meets Edmund, a witch who’s spent several months merged with a crumbling wall, and goes with him to visit his childhood friend Nathan, the ghost of a 14-year-old who committed suicide. During the visit, Edmund hazily recalls a past trauma—of which Matt’s dream eyes see only blazing fire—connected with another friend, Susan, who also used to visit Nathan. Since then, Edmund has grown no older. The experience, however, involved Susan’s father, a violent control freak who murdered Susan’s mother. So they resolve to go find Susan. At a stopover to visit Edmund’s sister Abby, Matt finds the house clogged with an unruly magic gold substance that Abby summons but doesn’t know how to shape. Matt talks to Gold and tells it not to hurt people, while Abby learns how to mold it into anything she desires. Matt acquires bracelets of gold magic. Moving on, Edmund and Matt find that Susan’s now a high-flying executive and has blotted out the past. Can she be persuaded to help Edmund remember the events concealed by the flames? A shame that Hoffman’s first hardcover, with its slasher/ripper connotations, gives entirely the wrong impression: she reworks a rather familiar outline with fresh, remarkable ideas and considerable flair.