Just like the first book, Tristan opens his story with boxing in his grandfather's boxing club, this time sparring in the barn with a partner who's bigger and faster than he is. Unfortunately, Tristan's been traumatized by his earlier journey to Alke, the land of John Henry, Gum Baby and Anansi, where Tristan ended up having to save the world by becoming a powerful storyteller, an Anansesem.
Anansi is safely contained in a phone-like device Tristan keeps on him at all times, but when, after the sparring is over, two panther-like ghosts attack him and his grandmother stops time to help him combat them, Tristan learns he must go back to Alke and confront a whole new threat -- The Shamble Man.
He's not sure what or who the Shamble Man is, but one thing's for certain: he used John Henry's hammer against the hero. Henry's legs are disintegrating. He can't come to Alke's defense this time. With Alke's biggest, staunchest defender on his back and not growing back his leg, saving Alke's is all up to Tristan this time.
Who will ally with Tristan? Other than Gum Baby, who's back again and the book really picks up once she's back in the picture. Love her! This time, there is a whole new cast of heroes, a lot of them women, who ferry Tristan on a raft or fight for him and get him to where he needs to be to save Alke from The Shamble Man.