Thomas's father dies and leaves behind a marble with a serpent in it and a letter that says that his education is paid for at Darkledun Manor. The story is about Thomas and how he fits in the magical school. It's a light mystery as Thomas tries to figure out the strange marble and why his father sent him to Darkledun (and how he paid for it).
The author did a good job of describing the characters. I could picture them in my head easily. I think the idea of the marble with a serpent in it was cool. The story itself was very original. I've never read anything like it before.
However, the pace of the book was very slow and could have benefitted from more action, especially in the middle. The mystery was easy to figure out and not a surprise at the end. There were a few dream sequences that were strange and sometimes hard to follow because some were italicized and others were not.