Set in 1536 England. Dell has lived an isolated existence with her father, brother, and aunt. Her parents used to work in the royal court and her late mother's bible was a gift from Catherine of Aragon. But now they struggle to survive and rely on a monthly donation brought to them by a teenage boy. Dell is ordered to never interact with him and never go to the city because it is full of cannibals who will kill her.
Dell is talented with puppets but, since her mother was killed when her puppet stage was collapsed by a horse, her father has banned them. So she has to keep them hidden. When he finds one he burns it in a drunken rage. Angry, she decides to take her chances running away to the city to find the boy. The city is London and, while there aren't cannibals per se, the sights, smells, noise, crowds, etc are enough to make it seem like hell on earth to her. The author does a good job conveying the sensory overload Dell experiences.
Dell has always though she was a mutant because she was so much taller than the rest of her family; it is only when she blends in with the London populace that she realizes the rest of her family are dwarves. It occurs to her that this might be why her father was able to work as a court entertainer.
After multiple missteps, she finally finds Ronaldo only to learn that he is shortly going to take vows as a Benedictine monk. However, Henry VIII has started his assaults on the monasteries and requiring the monks to submit to him rather than the Pope. Dell has already seen Bishop John Fisher beheaded for refusing to submit to the King. She knows it could happen to Ronaldo as well if he refuses to take the oath of allegiance.
Without giving too much of the plot away, she has to discover why her parents left royal employment, determine who can and cannot be trusted with the secrets she discovers, dodge the attention of Thomas Cromwell, and try to convince Ronaldo to renounce his vows when he is willing to face the gallows for his beliefs.