Teenage orphan Arley Pickett runs her deceased parents’ boarding house in gone-bust Grubstake, where her main source of comfort is the monthly arrival of her Penny Dreadful novels.
Then the train brings a fast-talking dude buying up all the played-out mines. Though her boarders grab the cash, Arley refuses to sell her father’s Never Mind Mine where he had accidentally blown himself up with newfangled dynamite. One of Arley’s boarders, Morgan, admits to her that he and the dude work for Denver millionaire Lockwood. But when that wolfish tycoon begins feverishly searching the sold-off mines for a rare mineral, Morgan rebels against his boss, teaming up with Arley to wait, armed with dynamite, for Lockwood at the Never Mind. Jean Ferris spins a tale for her young readers as spine tingling as any Penny Dreadful. Thirteen-year-old Kaitlin Chasler of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, enjoyed the story, saying Arley and her friends were good examples of how people can be true to themselves while preserving their way of life and town.