Time Stoppers opens innocently enough. Annie Nobody once again stands on the front steps of a foster home, staring at the door, hoping but not believing that this one will be better than the last. Or the one before that. Or the one before that. This is, in fact, Annie’s twelfth foster placement. For just a moment, Annie tries to convince herself that this time will be different, but it’s difficult, staring at the door of the ramshackle trailer, with the sky turning an ominously strange purple, and crows circling overhead. As it turns out, Annie’s instincts are right. Because the moment Annie is left alone with Mrs. Weigle and her son, Walden, things go from bad to worse. She’s only there, they tell her, so that the Weigles can make a little money. Otherwise, she’s to be silent, be invisible, and stay out of the way. Home sweet home, Annie thinks.
Across town, Jamie Alexander stares out his bedroom window. Like Annie, Jamie considers himself a nobody. He lives with his father and grandmother, but he’s never felt he belonged in the family. He doesn’t look like them, and they certainly don’t act like a grandmother and father should. Between the rationed food, the angry words, and the quick smacks, Jamie lives a miserable existence. On this night, his father is at work at the police station and Jamie is watching his grandmother standing barefoot on the side lawn. This itself is unusual, but then the ground begins to rumble, the walls begin to rattle, and as Jamie watches, twenty giant, ugly, creatures emerge from the woods. As his grandmother runs towards them, she too changes, turning into one of the creatures herself.
Thus begins the adventure of two nobodies. Annie and Jamie’s worlds soon collide, quite literally, actually, thanks to a small snowmobiling dwarf named Eva, who takes them to the kingdom of Aurora. It is there that Annie learns that far from being a nobody, she’s a Time Stopper, keeper of some very powerful magic. And it is there that Jamie learns that his father and grandmother are actually trolls, and that he, Jamie, may turn into a troll himself, during his thirteenth year. A year that starts in a matter of days. If that’s not life-changing enough, his guardians have actually been waiting for him to turn thirteen so that they can eat him (rules exist for this kind of thing, you know).
There’s good news: Aurora is a safe haven for magic folk, and its protector, Miss Cornelia promises the children that they will always have a place to stay, a place where they will never be nobodies again.
But then there’s bad news: the garden gnome that stands at the edge of the kingdom has been stolen, and with its disappearance, the kingdom is no longer invisible, allowing evil to enter. And of course, as it often does, evil enters immediately.
Now it’s up to Jamie, Annie, Eva, and a quick-thinking elf, Bloom, to find and return the gnome to its rightful location. It’s a journey that will take all four directly into their darkest fears, fears that include not only trolls and giant birds, but of losing the home they never knew they had.
Timestoppers is on shelves May 3.