If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.
The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.
The path was clearly magical. The foliage, although wild and unkempt, glowed with greenery and flowers. Giant mushrooms, some the size of dinner plates, sprouted under the bushes. Birds twittered in the trees. Kat ducked as a bumblebee as big as her fist droned past her head on its way to another blossom. Here it was spring, just like on Galdorheim under the shield.
Kat pulled off her parka and draped it over her knapsack. Rune soon did the same, even though his tolerance for extreme temperatures was usually much higher than Kat’s. They were strolling along, enjoying the warmth, the flowers, and the buzz of the bees, when Kat looked up to see an eagle riding an updraft in a lazy circle above them. “Look!” Kat pointed. Rune glanced up at the bird.
“Interesting…not! C’mon, Kat, it’s just an eagle,” he replied.
Kat looked down at her feet and mumbled, “I thought it was interesting.”
A few moments later, Rune stopped abruptly, holding up his hand.
“Shhh! Do you hear something?”
Kat listened but heard only chirps and buzzing. “No, but your hearing is better than mine.”
Rune turned slowly in place, trying to home in on the sound. Kat watched, puzzled.
The hillside by the path trembled then heaved upward. Dirt and rocks flew through the air. The shaking earth knocked Kat backward. She plopped onto her behind with a yelp, ducked her head, and covered it with her arms to fend off flying gravel. Peeking out from beneath her upraised arms, Kat's eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. In front of her, the shaking earth rose and unfolded. Then a monstrous glob of rocks and dirt rose higher and higher into the air. Two huge boulders blinked at her. Kat screamed. A gaping mouth appeared beneath the eyes, and a monstrous nose jerked and wriggled its way to a place between the eyes and mouth.
Rune grabbed her arm, jerking her to her feet. “It’s a giant! Run! Run!”
Kat sprinted after Rune, who quickly outpaced her, as the giant continued to grow and take shape from the rocks and earth. Kat risked a quick glance over her shoulder. A horrendous, rocky fist swung in a downward arc, its target appallingly clear. She tried to force her flying feet to move even faster, hoping to outrace that ponderous, clenched hand. She looked up to see the eagle plummeting downward, its wings folded against its sides. Kat aimed a thought at the eagle. “Help me!” The eagle flared its wings and stopped abruptly in midair. It then turned and flew away. She was disappointed but not surprised when the eagle left. No use. She picked up her feet and raced after Rune.