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Twelve-year-old Sam canít cry, no matter how hard he tries. But the wizard Ero demands tears from everyone in his kingdom, using them to control people like puppets on strings. If Samís eyes are dry on his day of collecting, the wizard will punish Samís mother and his only friend, Tria, to force his tax of tears.

Cutting onions. Nearly drowning. Shoving his hand into a fire. Nothing ever works. Even when collecting day arrives and Ero tortures Tria, Sam canít find his tears. So Ero keeps Sam prisoner, using Samís mother and Tria as a constant threat. Since crying isnít possible, Sam can only protect the others one way: making sure Ero canít control them again.

But finding and destroying the tears is easier said than done. Puppets roam the castle at all hours, acting as Eroís eyes and ears. And Samís sure the tears are in the east toweróthe one place in the castle heís forbidden to go. But what he finds in the tower convinces Sam that destroying Eroís stash isnít enough to keep his loved ones safe. Heíll have to destroy Ero.

Defeating the wizard will free an entire kingdom. Failing gets the only two people he loves killed. Either way, crying wonít solve anything.