After his parents are killed in a car crash, ten-year-old Lewis Barnavelt moves to live with his uncle Jonathan. All he has left of his parents is a Magic 8-Ball they had given him. He meets Jonathan's neighbor and best friend, Florence Zimmerman. During the night, Lewis is puzzled when he hears a ticking sound in the walls. Lewis begins exploring the house and stumbles upon Jonathan smashing a wall with an ax. Frightened, he runs away and stumbles upon multiple household objects coming to life. Jonathan confesses that he is a warlock and Florence is a witch. The house's previous owners were a sinister warlock named Isaac Izard and his equally wicked wife Selena, who had hidden a clock within the walls of the house before they died. Jonathan has been trying to find it and discover its purpose. Despite Jonathan's discouragement, Lewis begins teaching himself magic..