Authors: Kate Saunders
The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2011 by Kate Saunders
Jacket art copyright © 2012 by Shutterstock Images
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by Scholastic Ltd, London, in 2011.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Magicalamity / Kate Saunders. — 1st ed.
Summary: Eleven-year-old Tom is shocked to learn that he is a demisprite, half fairy and half mortal, and that he, aided by three fairy godmothers, must save his father, who is hiding in the fairy Realm, while safeguarding his mortal mother.
[1. Fairy godmothers—Fiction. 2. Fairies—Fiction. 3. Magic—Fiction. 4. England—Fiction.]
PZ7.S2539 Mag 2012
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
n the morning everything changed, Tom Harding opened his eyes to find his old white cat sitting on his duvet.
“Hi, Elvis,” he said blearily. “How did you get in?” He could have sworn he had shut his bedroom door last night. He sat up in bed with a loud yawn—he had slept very deeply, and his head felt foggy. His bedroom looked perfectly normal, but there was an odd silence in the house. Sunlight blazed through the curtains. Then he caught sight of his alarm clock.
Eleven-thirty? That couldn’t be right. Mum always woke him up early on weekdays, even during the summer holidays—Tom’s parents, Jonas and Sophie Harding,
owned a delicatessen and coffee shop, and he had to be up before they opened at half past eight.
The Harding family lived in a flat above the deli, and there should have been plenty of noise downstairs at this time of the morning—the coffee machine hissing, babies wailing, people talking at the tables outside on the pavement. And yet the strange silence stretched on and on, and Elvis’s green eyes stared at Tom gravely, as if he were trying to say something important.
“Mum?” Tom called. “Mum, are you there? Dad?”
Something was wrong. Tom scrambled out of bed, quickly put on yesterday’s clothes and hurried downstairs to the deli. It was gloomy and deserted. The thick green night blinds were still drawn over the big windows, and the CLOSED sign was up in the door. He looked round at the polished wooden counters and the shelves filled with bottles and packets of fancy food. Beside the till, Dad had made a little pyramid of jars of sun-dried tomatoes, and Tom noticed that the top jar was missing. That was the only change he could put his finger on, but everything felt strange.
He dashed back upstairs to the flat. “Mum? Dad?”
“Good morning!” a voice called from the kitchen.
It was a deep, rough voice that didn’t belong to either of his parents. Cautiously, Tom looked round the kitchen door and saw a very large bottom bent over
in front of the open fridge. The owner of the bottom stood up and turned round, and Tom saw that she was a tough-looking lady, with a wrinkled brown face and short gray hair, dressed in a blue jumpsuit and heavy boots.
“So you’re Tom,” she said.
“Er—hello. What’s going on? Have you seen my parents?”
“The name’s Mustard,” the tough lady said cheerfully. “Lorna Mustard. I expect your dad’s mentioned me.”
A single jar of rich red sun-dried tomatoes stood on the draining board. Lorna Mustard picked it up carefully and put it on the top shelf.
“No,” Tom said, “I’m pretty sure he’s never mentioned anyone called Mustard. Do you know where my parents have gone? Why’s the deli shut?”
“Let’s not fly into a panic,” Lorna said in her gruff voice. “Have some eggs and bacon.”
“Did they go out somewhere?”
“You could say that.”
“Why didn’t they tell me?”
“Hmm. How old are you now?”
“Eleven,” Tom said. “Why didn’t they say anything?”
“There wasn’t time—your dad just managed to summon me. Now I’m here to take care of you.”
Tom decided she must be crazy. “I don’t need a babysitter, thanks.”
“I’m not a babysitter,” Lorna said. “I’m your fairy godmother.”
“Sorry?” He wondered if he should call the police, or maybe an ambulance.
“Before you ask any more questions, you’d better see this.” Lorna snapped her fingers at the small television on the kitchen counter. The screen flickered, and a face appeared.
“Dad?” Tom gasped.
“Hi, Tom.” Dad was speaking from some dark, murky place, and he looked scared. “If you’re watching this, it means I’ve been forced into hiding. I can’t explain it all now, but I’ve been keeping a secret. A big secret. I’m very sorry, Tom—there’s no easy way to say this—but I’m a fairy.”
“WHAT?” Tom’s heart was thudding uncomfortably. “Look, what’s going on?”
“I thought I could leave my fairy side behind,” the recording of Dad went on. “I thought I could open a deli in Primrose Hill and live like a normal human being. I didn’t tell you or your mother because I wanted to protect you. But they’ve found me, and now there’s a warrant out for my arrest.”
“But that’s stupid!” Tom cried. “He’s not a criminal!”
“Inside the Realm,” Dad said, “I’m wanted for illegal marriage and murder. That’s why I had to go into hiding. It’s true that my marriage to your mother isn’t legal
here—but please believe this, Tom”—Tom had never seen Dad so serious—“I did not kill Milly Falconer! The charge is complete nonsense—but there’s no time to explain. Whatever you do, don’t let anyone lure you into the Realm! Not even if they kidnap Mum and hold her hostage.”
“Mum! What’s he talking about?” This was a nightmare. “Where is she?”
“She’s only a mortal,” Dad said. “I’m trusting you to protect her. Tell her I’m sorry about being a secret fairy. I hate leaving you both, but you’ll be safer if you don’t know where I am. I’ve summoned your three fairy godmothers, and they’ll tell you what to do—their names are Iris Moth, Dahlia Pease-Blossom and Lorna Mustard.” In the background there was distant shouting, and what sounded like a gunshot. Dad looked frightened. Very quickly he added, “No more time! Trust your godmothers, Tom—they’re our only hope!”
“This is some kind of trick,” Tom said faintly.
On the television, something strange and dreadful was happening to Dad. His chin melted like wax, his nose stretched into a point, his face turned black and hairy, his mouth filled with fangs, and before Tom’s horrified eyes he changed into a bat. The screen went blank.
Tom collapsed into one of the kitchen chairs.
Maybe I’m still asleep, he thought, and this is a really weird dream.
But the kitchen tap dripped, which it didn’t in dreams, and this lady with the big bum—his “fairy godmother”—was only too solid.
“I came the minute I got the summons,” Lorna Mustard said. “I don’t know what’s happened to the other two godmothers—lazy old bags—but I know my duty.”
“Mum!” Tom sprang out of his chair. “He said they’d kidnap her! Where is she?” It was horrible to think of his pretty, laughing mother being kidnapped—maybe tied up, or blindfolded.
“Calm down, boy!” Lorna clamped a big hand on his shoulder and pushed him back. “I’m way ahead of you, and I hid your mother the minute I got here.”
Tom breathed a little easier. Lorna had a very confident way of talking, and Dad had told him to trust her. For some reason—though she was a total stranger and hardly seemed normal—he did. “Is she OK? When can I see her?”
“I’m afraid you can’t see her just yet, because it might put her in danger. But please don’t be anxious about her.” For the first time Lorna’s craggy old face was kind. “She’s absolutely fine, and I give you my solemn word that I’m guarding her with my life. Now you’d better have some bacon and eggs—you look shocked.”
“I am shocked.”
“Did you really not know your dad was a fairy?”
“No! I had no idea!” Tom’s best friend, Charlie, had
once been sent out of class for calling someone a fairy. What would Charlie say if he heard about this? Once or twice lately he’d made fun of Tom for wearing a “girly” apron when he helped out at the deli on Saturday mornings. It hadn’t done any good telling him it was a man’s apron. Charlie would definitely think being a fairy was girly.
“In the mortal world, the word ‘fairy’ is sometimes used as an insult.” Lorna put the big frying pan on the stove and slapped in six slices of bacon. “Little mortal girls think they’re dressing up as fairies when they wear pink wings and puffy pink skirts. They think fairy godmothers only exist in stories. Mortals have never really understood us.”
“I’m a mortal,” Tom reminded her.
“Oh, you’re not a mortal.”
“Yes, I am!”
Lorna flipped the bacon in the pan. “You’re not, you know.”
“I’m a normal human boy!”
“Well, you’re a boy,” Lorna said cheerfully. “But you’re not entirely human—and you’re definitely not normal.”
Tom was a little scared, but also interested. “What am I, then?”
“You’re a demisprite.”
His fairy godmother held four eggs in her big hand and broke them into the frying pan all at once. “A demisprite is half fairy and half mortal. You’re very rare and special because you’re not supposed to exist. Fairies aren’t allowed to mate with mortals.”
“It makes a puncture in the membrane, and magic leaks out.”
“Oh dear, it’s complicated. It’s the thin layer between this world and the Realm.”
“Can a demisprite get into the Realm?”
“Certainly not legally.”
“So—when my dad married my mum, he was really committing a crime? Wow!” Tom was impressed. Dad was a small, smiling man with curly hair, who wore an apron and spent his days making coffee and slicing salami. But if all this fairy stuff was true, he was secretly as brave and romantic as someone in a film.
“We all tried to warn him,” Lorna said, shaking her head. “But nothing beats the power of true love. It doesn’t matter how many laws they make—there have always been a few demisprites. They often have amazing talents that make them stand out in the mortal world. Shakespeare and Mozart were demis. So was Stalin—the power shows up in all sorts of ways.”