Lisa Zarkin McHugh, author
Layla Bali is an eleven year-old girl who sees things that others don't. She knows that there are unexplained dangers in this world. When Layla's dog, Molly, goes missing, Layla's search for her leads her into strange new lands. Layla awakens to a noise in the middle of the night and meets Jasmine, a black cat from the land of Baismal. Layla can speak to Jasmine, and the two are transported to Baismal through a staircase of fire. Malkolm, the evil ruler of Baismal, kidnapped Molly. He wants revenge for the death of his family, but he does not know his family's true fate. Layla and Jasmine must save Molly and end Malkolm's reign of terror. When Layla accidentally transforms Jasmine from a housecat into a great black panther, she discovers that her words have magical power. Jasmine and Layla meet friends and enemies in their search for Molly, but many of the people Layla meets look like people she knew at home in the Middle Land. Even Kaleb, an attractive boy her age, looks very much like the boy she likes back home. Kaleb accompanies Layla and Jasmine as they continue their journey. In the dungeon of Malkolm's castle, Layla, Jasmine, and Kaleb confront Malkolm and rescue many kidnapped animals—including Molly. They escape into the land of Atticalli, ruled by the good and powerful Lord Gani. Layla learns that the three lands are connected, and there may be a link between the people she met in Baismal and her friends back home. She herself is the reincarnation of Princess Lelanie—Lord Gani's best friend. Malkolm tracks Layla to Atticalli where he attacks her and her friends. Lord Gani saves them, and Malkolm is defeated, but Malkolm still has a doppelgänger somewhere in the Middle Land. Until his doppelgänger is found, Malkolm may return to power. Lord Gani returns Layla and Molly to the Middle Land to search for Malkolm's doppelgänger. Layla awakens in her bed with Molly safely home. Visiting her friends, she realizes that something isn't right, and she needs to figure out the truth about the people around her and the dream she has just had.