After his father goes missing in the Great War, Owen is abandoned to live with his cruel aunt, and wishes he could escape his life of drudgery in her small seaside guesthouse. There he meets a mysterious guest, who appears to make his ventriloquist's dummy speak, even in his sleep.
Soon Owen realises that the dummy, Mr Sparks, can really talk - and he's looking for a newer, younger puppetmaster. But Mr Sparks has a dark past . . .