Harry Potter meets the Krays in this tale of a teenager caught in the crossfire between his criminal family and two rival Alchemists.
Forget about cause and effect, try thinking of the universe as an enormous game of snakes and ladders...
Noel Lightfoot comes from a long line of crooks, and his parents are preparing him to join them in the family business. Two weeks before his sixteenth birthday he breaks into a dilapidated house called Ouroboros, only to find the owner waiting for him in an armchair. This is Lanithro Shrubb, a retired Alchemist with a number of peculiar talents. His embittered daughter Janice wants Noel to be punished, but Shrubb feels he deserves a chance, and sends him away with a boot-load of junk that is meant to help him turn his life around.
On Christmas Day the Lightfoots take part in a reality TV programme which rakes over their grubby past and gives Noel an alarming preview of a future life spent behind bars. Noel runs away, and takes refuge with the Shrubbs. But going straight is by no means a simple matter, particularly when the universe keeps sending you back to prison to die.