Boston, 1891. Thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims lives with her uncle, cartologer Shadrack Elli, in a world torn to pieces by the Great Disruption of 1799 - when all of the continents were mysteriously thrown into different time periods, from the prehistoric era to the fortieth century. Sophia's parents are explorers.
She has not seen them in years, since they went on an expedition and never returned. When Shadrack is kidnapped from their home, Sophia sets out-along with her new friend, Theo - to find him. Their journey takes them across the country.
Along with a group of lawabiding pirates, and a wayward botanist and his daughter, they search for Sophia's uncle, and run for their lives. What they learn-about mapmaking, the changes taking place in the world, and the legends of the land-transforms Sophia forever.