A decidedly non-Ordinary family (and their talking cat) must embark on a magical mission in this tale from New York Times– bestselling author Alan Dean Foster.For any normal teenage boy, having two and a half younger sisters would be enough to deal with. But Simwan Deavy’s life isn’t normal. His family is non-Ord—short for “non-Ordinary”—which means that at school, he and his sisters learn hexing and enchanting along with history and math. It also means they have a ghost for an uncle and a cat who talks. Still, everything is going well for Simwan—until a bottle of Truth is stolen from the local pharmacy. Now the Deavys’ favorite woods are under threat from development; their mother, whose life depends on the Truth, is growing weaker; and the world as they know it might never be the same. With the help of their cat, Pithfwid, the Deavys track the loathsome, horrible Crub to his lair in New York City. But the Crub has laid traps, turning a dangerous city into a deadly one. To succeed at their mission, the Deavys will have to stick together—or the Truth may be lost forever.
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 14 Years|
About the Author
Alan Dean Foster is the author of more than 120 science fiction and fantasy novels. His books include the Spellsinger Series, the Pip and Flinx Series, and numerous Star Wars and Star Trek novelizations. In addition to creating imaginary worlds, Foster travels extensively throughout the world. He has camped in the South Pacific, scuba dived on unexplored reefs, eaten fried piranha in the jungles of Peru, and filmed great white sharks in Australia. Foster also likes to hike, bodysurf, and powerlift. He and his wife live in Prescott, Arizona, with their troupe of cats. Needless to say, the cats rule the house.
Read an Excerpt
By Alan Dean Foster
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Alan Dean Foster
All rights reserved.
Someone had stolen the Truth. It had been kept in a bottle on a high shelf in the very back of Mr. Gemimmel's drugstore on South Harrison Street. No one in Clearsight had seen who had taken it. Or what had taken it. In a town like Clearsight, Pennsylvania, you could never be sure whether something that had been sneaking around was a who or a what.
The theft had left poor Mr. Gemimmel terribly distraught. His extended family had been in charge of the Truth since the time his very-great-indeed ancestors had found it. They'd been holding a village parley on the beach fronting the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands, some several thousands of years ago. Since then, a lot of the Truth had been spread around. Quite widely, in fact. But its essence had always been contained in one place — in a simple but very nicely made stoppered bottle of pale blue. It had been handed down from generation to generation, of which proud lineage Mr. Gemimmel was the latest incarnation.
And now the Truth was gone. Out.
Simwan Deavy knew that in the wrong hands, the Truth could be extremely dangerous. It could even be extremely dangerous in the right hands, if those hands didn't know how to handle it properly. His mother, for one, was highly sensitive to it. It was through her dreams that the Truth often passed into the world. Though he'd once seen the Truth for himself, contained in its innocuous glass bottle on the shelf in the mysterious depths of the drugstore, he had never dared to handle it. Now, relaxing in his room with the afternoon light from the open bay window burnishing everything inside in late autumn gold, he wondered who or what had stolen the Truth — and why.
A nimble feline shape materialized on the windowsill. Though his room was on the second floor of the house and the wall outside was flat and vertical, the svelte russet-and-black–hued figure that was now silhouetted in the sunshine had made the leap easily. But then, Pithfwid was no ordinary cat. Or as he himself would have prefurred to have it restated, "No cat is ordinary." Simwan sat up on his bed and turned to face the window.
Licking one forepaw until it was nice and soppy, Pithfwid proceeded to groom his face as he replied. Like agitated stars, small bright sparks crackled from the tips of his toes as those furry digits slicked down the strands of his sable-smooth coat.
"I heard. Gemimmel ought to pay more attention to his inventory instead of spending so much time up front watching the register and helping customers. He ought to pay more attention to things that belong to others, that he has been charged with guarding."
"Too late now." Stretching slightly to see past the cat, Simwan contemplated the untouched virgin forest that backed up to the Deavy property. "I wonder if this might have something to do with the new development?"
Pithfwid paced off a double circle before settling himself on the sill.
"How do you mean?"
Rising from his bed, the lanky teenager ambled over to the window. Resting both hands on the sill, one on either side of the contented feline, Simwan gazed out at the woods. Somewhere within the tangle of branches, blue jays were squawking like sportscasters competing for ratings. Carrying an acorn in its mouth, a squirrel took a quick look around before dashing up the trunk of an ancient, brooding sycamore. A stew of wind and small things unseen rustled leaves that October was turning gold and maroon, crinkly and crackly, amber and umber. And as if this business of the Truth disappearing from Mr. Gemimmel's store wasn't serious enough, All Hallow's Eve was approaching.
In the Deavy household, Halloween was more serious than fun, candy, and costumes.
"You know that not everyone in town realizes what the development would mean."
One cat eye opened to squint up at him. At the moment, it was the only part of Pithfwid that moved. "What's that? Humans not understanding the true meaning of things? I'm shocked, Simwan. Shocked!" The eye closed.
Familiar with the cat's moods, the teenager ignored the pointed sarcasm and continued. "The Ord adults can't stop talking about all the new jobs it will bring to town. They don't see that it'll also mean the end of the woods." He nodded toward the trees. "Most of this will get cut down so condominiums and big-box stores and the new mall can go up. They'll dig up the burrows and drain the ponds, channel the creeks and pave over the bogs."
If that catastrophe came to pass, where would he relax in summer, dig through leaves in autumn, toboggan in winter, and frolic in spring? Where would he and Josh and Esteban and Leroy swim nude, dodging the eels and chasing the fish? Where would they sit and discuss the prospects for the Steelers and the Pirates, or the possibilities of buying a car since they'd just gotten their driver's licenses, or the intricacies of the latest video game, or whether Carrenna Fitzhughes from Beeker Street would go out with any of them, if someone somehow mustered up enough courage to actually ask her?
With a sigh that suggested he knew he was not going to be allowed to enjoy his nap, Pithfwid opened both eyes to regard his human companion. "What do Martin and Melinda Mae have to say about it?"
Simwan made a resigned noise. "In their time off work, my parents are trying to rally the townsfolk. But we're the only non-Ord family in Clearsight, and neither of them is strong enough to conjure up a Sway-Spell that would push-persuade a majority of registered voters. Mr. Gemimmel could help, but Dad says he's so upset over the loss of the Truth last week that he can barely summon up enough enthusiasm to open the drugstore." Simwan looked worried. "And Mom ... Mom's not feeling so good right now. You know how sensitive she is to the Truth."
Rising, Pithfwid arched his back, yawned, and stretched, the movement flinging tiny sparks into the air, as if someone had being rubbing a wool sweater in the dark of night. "What about bringing in outside help?"
Reaching down, Simwan caressed the cat's back. Pithfwid began to purr contentedly, only shifting into a growl when the teen showed signs of stopping. "I've heard them talking about it. Because of Mom's deep attachment to the Truth, Dad knows it has to be recovered soon. They talked about having Senester Balthrop come down from New England to help, but he and the Providence Coven are all tied up trying to sort out the big fraud trial that's been going on up there. Meanwhile, Mom says the New England Masters organization is snowed under with much bigger problems." He stared out at the trees. "Leastwise, they're bigger problems to them."
Pithfwid made a sound like Balthrop, which in Feline would be translated as "contemptuous spit."
"Well, they're our woods, and I for one am not going to see them cut down, channeled, drained, or paved over. Where would I hunt? In the smelly thickets of the Gap? Beneath the gnarled roots of Walmart? When I sit myself up on a fence post lit by the full moon and wail, it's ratty boots and thoughtful curses I want flung at me, not glittery high-heels and hundred-dollar sneakers. Feed my soul with old soles, not new ones." Violet eyes peered at the worried teen. "If your parents can't deal with it —"
"Dad does have a job," Simwan protested, feeling compelled to defend his well-meaning, if all-too-often-preoccupied, father. "He can't fight the developers on his own, all the time."
"— then we'll have to do it ourselves," the cat concluded decisively. "You and me ... and the coubet, of course."
Turning away from the window, Simwan made a face. "Not the girls! Can't we leave them out of this?" Throwing up his arms in disgust (but leaving them attached to his shoulders), he stomped peevishly around his room. From the walls, muscular sports stars and models in skimpy bathing suits watched him closely. "You know how they'll be. They'll want to question everything, they'll want to run everything, they'll keep giving me orders and asking me to do stuff for them and embarrassing me if I see a girl my own age I was even thinking about maybe wanting to talk to."
Doing a glissando down from the sill, Pithfwid started across the room. The girls' room was down the hall. "And maybe they'll save your life."
Trading an expression of disgust for one of sudden concern, Simwan frowned at the cat. "What are you saying?"
Halting, Pithfwid looked over his shoulder and up at his friend. Just to show how serious he was, he promptly changed color from black and russet to gray with white stripes.
"Who, or what, do you think stole the Truth?"
"I dunno. Isn't that one of the things we have to find out?"
"Indeed," confirmed the cat. "Hapkin Gemimmel might not be the brightest drugstore proprietor in the world, or the most able dispenser of spells, but he's no fool. I've been through his store, hunting mice. Everything on the backmost shelves was protected with serious, solid spells. Whoever took the Truth knew how to break those spells, and how to do so without getting burned." Whiskers twitched suggestively. "I think it's safe to say anyone who can penetrate a professionally installed enchantment of protection is equally capable of defending himself, or itself. A successful thief is a dangerous thief, Simwan. Don't forget that." Turning, he resumed padding toward the door. Responding to an impatient glance from the cat, the knob turned obediently without being touched.
"Now set this silly adolescent-male nonsense of yours aside, and let's go explain things to your sisters."
Also located on the second floor of the big Victorian house, the room that had been set aside for the girls was much larger than Simwan's. That stood to reason, since there was only one of him and two of them. Or rather, not quite three of them. Or perhaps more accurately, two-and-a-half of them. Or two-and-a-something. The correct term was a "coubet." A coubet of Deavys. Coubet was a very, very old French word, Simwan knew. It referred to the thing that the Deavy girls were.
One thing they certainly were was twelve years old. And identical. Identical twins-and-a-something. There was Rose, who might just have been just a little taller and a little smarter than her sister Amber. Then there was Amber, who just possibly was a just a smidgen shorter and a hairsbreadth less sharp than her sister Rose. And lastly, there was N/Ice. The almost-third Deavy sister was exactly middle of Rose and Amber in height, and precisely 'tween them in smarts. But that was only when she was there, which wasn't all the time.
As you can imagine, when dealing with Ords and Ord authorities, this situation presented no end of problems for Mr. and Mrs. Deavy. "How many daughters do you have?" was a question that Ords often asked. "Two-and-a-half" was not a response they were capable of understanding. But Martin and Melinda Mae dealt with it, usually through roundabout but sometimes by magical methods. For example, they explained to the educational authorities that N/Ice (whose useless and true name for Ord purposes was Niobe) suffered from a non-lethal but frequently recurring disease that required her to stay at home for long periods of time. They could have simply home-schooled her, and the rest of the Deavy brood for that matter, but they felt that even though the children came from a long line of non-Ords, it was important for them to have the experience of dealing with Ords on an everyday basis, since they were living in a largely Ordinary world.
So the sometimes-there N/Ice, who had acquired her real name because sometimes when she was around she was nice, and at other times she was like ice, was just as much a Deavy girl as Rose and Amber and just as identical. For his part, Simwan was pleased with her exactly as she was. Two-and-a-half younger sisters were more than enough. No need for three.
As he and Pithwid advanced down the second-floor hallway, the portraits and photographs that lined the walls called out a cheery, if understandably faint, howdy from the hereafter. Simwan never failed to respond with a polite "hello" or "good afternoon" of his own. He was always glad to acknowledge a greeting from his ancestors. It was reassuring to know that they were around, if only in a two-dimensional sense. As full of them as the house was, with their various portraits hung here and there and everywhere, no burglar or bogeyman could sneak in unobserved. Or was likely to linger for long.
The coubet's room was located at the end of the hallway. Simwan didn't mind being relegated to a smaller space, but he did envy his sisters' high-peaked ceiling. It allowed room in a room to roam. As he and Pithfwid approached, a dull rumbling could be heard.
"Oh great!" Simwan slowed as he approached the door. It appeared to be vibrating ever so slightly. "They've got the stereo cranked again. I'm surprised Mom hasn't said anything."
"Melinda Mae isn't here to hear. She went to the grocery store." Pithfwid's gaze narrowed as he studied the trembling door. "I don't think it's the stereo."
Simwan looked down at the cat, who for the moment had gone purple with pink polka-dotting. "I bet they're listening to that new boyband." He sniffed derisively.
"Tsk," Pithfwid sniffed. "Typical male adolescent jealousy. I always think better of you, and I'm so often disappointed." As he glanced up at the knob, it turned smoothly. The door swung inward, granting them entry.
Though exceedingly localized and modest in size, the tornado that greeted them had lost none of its power. Simwan immediately felt himself swept up and hurled sideways. A small, azure-blue, furry shape went whizzing past his head. Front paws crossed, tail switching irritably back and forth, an impatient Pithfwid yowled his outrage at the unexpectedly windy greeting.
Caught up in the boisterous storm, man and cat found themselves accompanied in their swirling by a plethora of unrelated objects: furniture, games, loose clothing, books, a half-empty pudding box, a stream of vanilla-filled cookies that had aligned themselves into the shape of a dull yellow snake, tiny stuffed bunnies with floppy ears and bushy tails, beds and bed linens, and much more. All of it, with the possible exception of the trio of Shetland pony–size unicorns, was recognizable as belonging to the room in which they found themselves.
Simwan frowned sternly. "All right, that's enough! You know what Mom says about playing around with dangerous weather spells."
A graceful, pre-adolescent figure whose curly blond hair extended past her shoulders promptly popped out of the storm to confront him. It was Rose (he was pretty sure). "It's not a dangerous weather spell!" she pouted. "It's just a spell of dangerous weather."
Simwan was not dissuaded. "She doesn't like you playing with semantics, either."
A second figure blew past, caught herself, swam back to join them. "Do you know how long it took us to conjure up this storm, not to mention keep it contained?" Amber was wearing jeans and a crop-top embroidered with teddy bears, baby chicks, ducklings, and a brace of snarling merlantathoids. "We've been working with it for hours!"
"You mean playing with it. If it isn't homework, it's play." A dresser whipped past his head, forcing him to duck slightly to one side. "Call it off. Call it off now!" Taking a deep breath, he assumed his sternest Big Brother pose. "Or I'll tell Dad when he gets home. Besides, there are important things to talk about, and I'm not going to keep shouting above this wind."
"Oh, all right!" Pivoting in midair, Rose cupped her hands to her mouth and yelled, "N/Ice, Simwan says we need to talk! Turn it off!"
A third figure appeared, borne by the howling winds on the other side of the storm. It looked just like Rose and Amber: blond curls, slender pre-adolescent figure, and peaches-and-cream complexion. There was one way to differentiate between the three girls. N/Ice had eyes of glacier-blue, while Amber's were golden-brown and Rose's were the exact color of Gramma Deavy's lavender bath soap.
Excerpted from The Deavys by Alan Dean Foster. Copyright © 2016 Alan Dean Foster. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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