Robert Nobel, the school pariah, triumphs over his own fears and the school bully, in this extraordinary tale of self-empowerment, legend and death.
'His real name isn't Norbert, it's Robert Nobel. Since Niker arrived, he's been called Norbert. Norbert No-Bel. Norbert No-Bells-at-All. Norbert No-Brain. Norbert No-Bottle. I don't suppose Johnny Niker, who has curly dark hair, green eyes and a fluid, athletic body, has ever imagined what it would be like to look out at the world through Norbert No-Bottle's spectacles. But I have. Because I'm Norbert No-Bottle.'
Robert is a boy who can do anything - or so old Edith Sorrel at the nursing home tells him. Robert doesn't think so, knowing as he does that he is the school geek. But something compels him to do what Edith asks - to visit old Chance House, where a boy once fell to his death from the top floor flat, to confront his fears and find some answers.
Niker the bully thinks this is a great laugh. He challenges Robert to spend the night at Chance House with him - but there the balance of power changes, and it is Robert who proves to be the stronger. Niker feels threatened by the change - and when he finds out Robert's secret obsession, to make the dying Edith Sorrel a coat of feathers like in the old legend of the Firebird, he knows just how to wrest his old power back. But just how important is the coat of feathers? Could it really save Edith's life?