Princess Irene is kept in near isolation in a secluded mountain house with her nursemaid, Lootie, as her main source of company. In spite of her loving father's occasional visits and concern for her well-being, Irene longs for connection—to her distant father; to the memory of her dead mother; to her forbidden commoner friend, Curdie, and even to her nursemaid. Although Lootie cares for her, she refuses to believe anything Irene says about the sudden occurrence of dreamlike, mysterious happenings. One day, Irene discovers a strange new stairway and follows it to the top of the house where she meets The Mysterious Lady—someone who will help her make the connections she craves. At the same time, the young miner, Curdie, is exploring suspicious doings in the dark world within the mountain—a home to the goblins who bear a long-held grudge against "sun-people." As Irene dares to climb higher and Curdie dares to dig deeper, their paths meet in surprising ways until they eventually join forces to foil the goblins' plans and inspire new and lasting connections.