Annie has a vivid dream one night that a frivolous dragon and a fairy with a punk-rock hairdo visit her in her bedroom. When she discovers the next day that it was no dream, she's overjoyed. Her parents and friends are nice, but school is making her life miserable: she's about to flunk out of half her subjects.
At first she thinks her new friends will help her forget her troubles, but the opposite is true. As soon as they decide they can trust her, they tell her why they've broken the strict fairy laws and revealed themselves to her. Her uncle and his hard-hearted partners are planning to cut down the trees in a place the kids call the Haunted Woods and build fancy new houses. If that happens, the fairy warns her, dreadful consequences will follow, which might include the destruction of all of America, and maybe even the world.
Although sworn to secrecy, Annie knows that she can't solve this problem alone. She drags her best friend, and finally her well-meaning uncle, into the search for a solution. But it turns out that Annie's fairy and dragon are only children themselves, and when their parents discover what they've done, they take Annie and her uncle underground to show them first-hand why they must stop the development.
For all their good intentions, no one—not the fairies, the dragons, or her reformed uncle—can find a way out of the danger. It's up to Annie, a girl who can't even focus on her homework for five minutes in a row, to think of a way to stop the horror under the hill from erupting and destroying everything she knows.
Annie Rust dreamed that she woke up and found a fairy and a dragon sitting at the foot of her bed. It was still nighttime. Moonlight spilled brightly through the open window onto the model horse collection on her dresser, and the horsey shadows seemed to prance as the curtains shifted in the warm breeze.
For a dream, it was very clear. The fairy was about four inches tall, hovering over Annie’s feet with slow beats of her butterfly wings. She was dressed in a short gauzy dress, and her dark hair was spiky like an angry rock singer’s. This convinced Annie that she was dreaming: everyone knew that real fairies had beautiful long hair that blew loose in the wind. It would take a hurricane to ruffle the dream fairy’s knotted tresses.
The dragon was the same size as Aunt Helen’s toy poodle, but much less fuzzy. He had bumpy, scaly skin, big eyes over a pointed snout, and icky-looking wings folded back against his shoulders. He sat on the bedspread, up on his hind legs like a dog begging for baloney, scratching one pointy ear with the tip of a sharp finger-claw.
Nothing happened. Annie sat up and fluffed the pillow behind her back.
“This is a strange sort of dream,” she said. “Aren’t you going to do something?”
The dragon leaped straight up into the air, turned a somersault just below the ceiling, and landed on his nose, bouncing off the blankets onto the floor, then sprang back up onto the bed and spread his arms wide. Annie laughed and clapped her hands. The dragon opened his mouth wide to show needle-sharp teeth, bowed, and sat down again as if nothing had happened.
“That was great,” she said. “Can you breathe fire?”
He lifted a leathery hand and rasped his claws together. A small flame darted up from one of his claw-tips, burning blue and yellow and flickering in the puffs of wind. The dragon winked at her and blew on the flame. She expected a gout of fire, but instead the little blaze winked out.
“Sorry,” the dragon said in a surprisingly soft voice, “I can breathe or I can be on fire, but not both.”
“Who are you?” Annie said.
“Fidget,” the dragon said.
“Why do they call you Fidget?”
“I don’t know,” he said as he gently scratched his belly with one foot.
“And who are you?” Annie asked the fairy.
“My name is Jazzberry,” she said, in a voice that was high and tinkly, like a little girl’s laugh. She twirled in a mid-air pirouette, spinning faster and faster until her skirt stuck straight out, stopping so abruptly that Annie’s eyes hurt. She bowed.
Annie bowed back. “Nice to meet you. I’m Annie.”
“We know,” Fidget said.
“How do you know?”
“We know a lot,” Jazzberry said. She settled onto Annie’s knee and sat down, crossing her legs. Her wings shivered softly.
“Where do you come from?”
“That’s a mystery, isn’t it?” the fairy said.
“Yes,” Fidget said. “Where does anyone come from?”
“Well, I’m from Leftover.”
“Right here, silly. Leftover, Illinois.”
“You call this place Leftover?” the fairy said.
“You said you knew a lot,” Annie said, “but you don’t even know the name of our town?”
“We don’t spend much time in towns,” Fidget explained, rubbing his forehead with the thin tip of his tail.
“Well, where do you live?”
“We live in the Haunted Woods,” the dragon said.