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Thirteen-year-old Bay hates carving baubles. Which wouldn't be such a big deal if his guardians weren't bauble makers, carving magical charms from lost things the sea spat out into the island's dunes. When Bay's misshapen attempt at a fish bauble summons a dock-destroying whale instead of supper, he's only saved by the quick thinking of Ritt, the dune hunter's apprentice.

Thankfully, Bay's knack for accidental destruction doesn't scare away Ritt or his boss, Oriana. Becoming her second apprentice is the perfect fit for Bay, a natural at scouring the dunes for lost things to sell. But he soon learns his new friend has found trouble worse than a whale. Ritt collects bones behind Oriana's back—an act outlawed by the Sealord himself, for baubles carved from the bones of the lost can summon spirits.

Drawn into the illicit bone trade, Bay helps Ritt hide bones and sneaks out to midnight meetings with bone carvers. But when people all over the island turn up dead, with rumors spreading that a bone carver might be to blame, Bay must hunt for the truth before he and his friends end up in a dune.