Tess Ross -- a subliminally furious, frighteningly perceptive and horribly awkward teenager --hasn't ever really been a fan of stories. They make too much sense to her -- they end neatly and with a classic, perfect line that wraps everything up just so, which she just can't really enjoy due to her overexposure to the everyday hindrance we call reality. However, when her house is broken into by a pair of honourable robbers, things change. Now, Tess willingly fights the battle thrust upon her shoulders when she is suddenly inducted to a world of combat schools, wonderful abilities and overly-philosophical friends. She's got a little while to prepare, because soon she's going to be fighting a war of terrifying proportions (and it isn't just against teenage cynicism).
Tess Ross breaks out of her house to go to work late at night, but, upon returning home, runs into a group of burglars attempting to break into her house. She invites them in due to her knowledge of their situation, but upon touching one of them discovers his and his best friend's–Flynn and Cam's–unusual heritage as magical creatures, and activates her own in the process. Upon noticing the four black marks on their arms, the trio investigate exactly what abilities they are given.
Tess, Flynn, and Cam abandon the other two in Flynn and Cam's group when they are pursued by the police, escaping to a military school for those with special abilities like them. When they arrive, they are greeted by the school's fairylike headmistress, who explains that they are each able to use a different type of magic and their true heritage (Tess, for example, does not actually have the last name "Ross").
On the first day of school, Tess meets Malcolm Summers, Cyr, and Robin Sheets, her first friends in her life aside from Cam and Flynn. They bond and decide to tentatively form a team upon graduation in a few years, though this is mostly due to none of them having other people to form teams with. In addition, Tess wins the combat test by a very small margin, as she is a Combatant (her ability grants her advanced combat skills, but little else). The group–with the addition of Tate, a friend of Cam and Flynn–visits a bookshop, whose owner knows more about their dangerous heritage than the school seems to, and Tess trains with her powerful roommate.
Mal gets into a disagreement with a particularly rude classmate and Tess defends him, though Mal becomes offended by her actions and stalks away, discovering a new and extremely formidable power in the process. He continues to overwork himself, as he has been doing since a very young age.
After a couple months adjusting to school, Tess undergoes a combat test with the rest of her class. Though she fails in her goal and almost dies, she is saved by the sudden appearance of wings sprouting from her back and is promoted to rank one, where she immediately becomes last in the class and fails in her combat training due to her own inexperience (and, to some degree, lack of talent).
Upon reading an article in a newspaper delivered to him, Mal discovers that his parents have been working against Evergrove and are perhaps planning an attack on Tess's home realm. He travels there with the intent to stop them, but Flynn gathers the group into a team to go bring Mal back in order to prevent the possibly drastic consequences of his actions. The team consists of Cam, Flynn, Tate, Robin, Cyr, and Tess.
The team stays at Tess's house until they discover Mal's parents' headquarters and invade, losing the battle until Tess challenges the leader to a one-on-one fight. Her opponents shares her powers and nearly wins, though Tess comes out on top with assistance from her friends. During the fight, she discovers that her opponent is, in fact, her mother, who had been believed to be dead. In addition, Flynn appears to be dead and Tess invites one of her enemies to study at Evergrove, due to the girl–Faye–showing a certain degree of talent and knowledge of "good."
Upon return to Evergrove with Mal in tow, the team is officially recongized as "Wrath" and their headmistress announces Flynn's status as living, thanks to Faye's quick thinking. Though the war quickly approaches, the team is momentarily happy.