Under a spell, p.1

Under a Spell, page 1


Under a Spell

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Under a Spell

  Heads up!

  SOPH, WATCH OUT,” KARA’S VOICE SUDDENLY CUT into her thoughts. Sophie looked up just in time to see a basketball heading straight for her nose.

  She instinctively went to lift her hands to stop it from hitting her, but her fingers were tangled in the chain around her neck. There was no way she wanted to break it, but she didn’t want to break her face either, which meant there was only one other thing she could do.

  She closed her eyes and wished for the ball not to hit her.

  A nanosecond later a telltale tingle went racing through her body like a sugar rush, and she saw the ball come to a halt, just inches from her face. It hovered there for what seemed like ten hours before it dropped harmlessly down at her feet.

  Oh, she should probably also mention the other thing that had happened since she’d started sixth grade: she had kind of become a djinn.


  The Books of Elsewhere,

  Volume 1: The Shadows

  Jacqueline West

  The Books of Elsewhere,

  Volume 2: Spellbound

  Jacqueline West


  Lauren Myracle

  Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator

  Jennifer Allison

  Lights, Camera, Cassidy,

  Episode 1: Celebrity

  Linda Gerber

  Lights, Camera, Cassidy,

  Episode 2: Paparazzi

  Linda Gerber

  Olivia Kidney

  Ellen Potter

  Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic,

  Book 1: Wishful Thinking

  Amanda Ashby

  Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic,

  Book 3: Out of Sight

  Amanda Ashby

  The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

  Rhonda Hayter





  a Spell

  Amanda Ashby


  An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,

  Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

  New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,

  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Published by Puffin Books, a member of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2012

  1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

  Copyright © Amanda Ashby, 2012

  All rights reserved


  ISBN: 978-1-101-57219-1

  Book design by Jeanine Henderson

  Text set in Janson

  Printed in the United States of America

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed

  in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage

  piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.




  The usual suspects must be listed here because without them this book would just be a big hot mess in my head! To my agent, Jenny Bent, who does everything with style, grace, and candy. To Christina Phillips and Sara Hantz, who read everything I write and probably a lot of things that I shouldn’t write. As ever, a big thank-you to Karen Chaplin, who helped bring Sophie to life, and to Kristin Gilson, who took over so seamlessly. Once again to Jeanine Henderson and everyone else who helped create such beautiful covers!

  I would also like to thank Michelle Rowen, who didn’t even laugh when I sent her a panicked “er, how do you write a series” e-mail. Her advice was priceless and so is she. And finally, to my husband and kids, who are forced to help me brainstorm my books all the time. I’m not saying that I withhold food from them until they get it right; however, I will say that living with a writer can be perilous and they all handle it amazingly well!

  Table of Contents


















  Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic: Out of Sight


  THERE WERE MANY THINGS THAT SOPHIE CAMPBELL was good at; unfortunately, basketball wasn’t one of them. In fact, as far as she was concerned, instead of making basketball part of PE, it should be banned on the grounds that it was humiliating and cruel to short people like herself. She had also apparently been at the back of the line when hand-eye coordination was being passed out, which made it even worse. It wasn’t like she wasn’t a positive person, because she was. A really, really positive person. But seriously, how could anyone be positive when she was surrounded by other people’s armpits?

  Sophie’s two best friends, Kara and Harvey, looked equally unimpressed as they all sat in the bleachers of Robert Robertson Middle School’s gym on Monday afternoon, waiting for the ritual humiliation to begin. It was worst for Harvey, who was tall and skinny and looked like he should be able to play. Unfortunately, he tended to think of the ball as a weapon of mass destruction that should be avoided at all costs, which didn’t exactly lend itself to success in the sport.

  At that moment their PE teacher, Miss Carson, realized that the three of them were still sitting, and she waved for them to come down onto the court.

  “And I mean now, Harvey Trenton,” the teacher added when Harvey shot her a blank look. He reluctantly untangled his lanky legs, blew his bangs out of his eyes, and jogged over. Sophie and Kara trailed unenthusiastically behind him and joined the rest of the class doing warm-up lunges. Still, not even the prospect of playing basketball could ruin Sophie’s mood. Especially when so many great things had happened to her since she had entered sixth grade just over three weeks ago.

  For a start, she and her friends were all in the same homeroom (score). Then there was the fact that over the weekend they had managed to get backstage at the Neanderthal Joe concert, where Eddie Henry (the best bass player In. The. World) had given Sophie his guitar pick. And finally, the icing on top of Sophie’s deliciously gorgeous pink cupcake was that she and Jonathan Tait had shared “a moment.”

  It had been just after Eddie had given her the guitar pick. In her excitement Sophie had spilled the contents of her purse, and Jonathan had immediately dropped to the ground to help her gather everything up. And that’s when it happened. They had both reached for her camera at the same time, causing their fingers to touch. Sophie immediately felt a jolt of electricity go zooming through her, and, as their eyes locked, she tightened her grasp on Jonathan’s fingers. It was perfect (and she didn’t care what Harvey said,
because she knew a moment when she had one, and this most definitely was one).

  She let out a dreamy sigh as her fingers tightened around the guitar pick, which was now hanging from her neck on a delicate silver chain. Like she said, a lot had happened in the last few weeks, and—

  “Soph, watch out,” Kara’s voice suddenly cut into her thoughts. Sophie looked up just in time to see a basketball heading straight for her nose.

  She instinctively went to lift her hands to stop it from hitting her, but her fingers were tangled in the chain around her neck. There was no way she wanted to break it, but she didn’t want to break her face either, which meant there was only one other thing she could do.

  She closed her eyes and wished for the ball not to hit her.

  A nanosecond later a telltale tingle went racing through her body like a sugar rush, and she saw the ball come to a halt, just inches from her face. It hovered there for what seemed like ten hours before it dropped harmlessly down at her feet.

  Oh, she should probably also mention the other thing that had happened since she’d started sixth grade: she had kind of become a djinn.

  That’s right, a djinn. As in a genie, complete with magic, orange skin, and immortality. She even had her own ghostly djinn guide called Malik, who was supposed to be showing her the ropes but instead spent most of his time eating Cheetos, downloading stuff from the Internet, and annoying Sophie on a regular basis. And for some weird reason, despite the fact he could shape-shift into anyone he wanted, he had taken to looking like Zac Efron, right down to the streaky caramel-colored hair and navy blue eyes.

  At first Sophie had been tempted to take a special reversal pill so that her life could go back to normal. But then she discovered that her dad, who had walked out four years ago, was actually a djinn, too. And so she had kept her powers so that she would be allowed to see the Djinn Council and ask for its help in finding him. Plus, she had to admit that once she’d managed to make her skin look a normal color, being a djinn definitely had its uses. Like stopping flying basketballs and helping her get backstage passes to meet Neanderthal Joe.

  “Whoa,” one of the jocks said from somewhere behind her. “Like, dude, did that ball just float in the air?”

  “What? No,” Kara said quickly, since it was important no one found out the truth. Instead, she grabbed the ball and threw it to Harvey (who promptly dropped it). “It most definitely didn’t.”

  “Are you sure? Because it looked like it was floating to me,” the jock continued in a loud and very persistent voice.

  “Of course she’s sure. It was merely gravity. You know, Newton and his whole: ‘What goes up must come down’ thing,” Harvey added as he kicked away the offending basketball. It looked like the jock was going to protest further, but before he could, there was a piercing whistle, and Sophie turned to see Miss Carson glaring at her.

  “Sophie Campbell, since you seem to be off in dreamland, I think I’ll make you captain of the red team, and you better hope you don’t lose or else it will be four laps for you. Understand?” Then, without another word, she threw another basketball directly at Sophie.

  At least it wasn’t aimed at her face this time, but Sophie wasn’t taking any chances. She once again closed her eyes and wished for the ball to slow down before it reached her. However, this time, instead of letting it hover in front of her, she plucked it from the air as if she’d caught it. For a moment Miss Carson almost looked disappointed before she jogged off and began to yell at someone else. Sophie grinned. Perhaps basketball wasn’t so bad after all?

  “Are you crazy? I thought you weren’t going to do any magic where people could see you,” Harvey demanded in a low voice as they shuffled around the court, making sure that they avoided the ball and some of their more zealous classmates. “Because, news flash, lots of people just saw your little display.”

  “I didn’t plan to,” Sophie protested. “But then Miss Carson tried to throw a ball in my face. What was that about?”

  “I think she’s gone Dark Side.” Kara pushed a stray strand of long hair back off her face and shuddered. “As in, she’s now dating Señor Rena.”

  “That explains a lot.” Sophie nodded as she ducked out of the way of another flying ball. Despite being at school for only three weeks, she had already managed to annoy her Spanish teacher in a major way, and now he was obviously going for some payback by bad-mouthing her to everyone else.

  “But Harvey’s right,” Kara, who never liked to hurt anyone, reluctantly agreed. “I thought the idea was to be more careful with your magic. What if someone had figured it out?”

  “Then I’m sure Malik would’ve taught me some magic to fix that as well,” Sophie said in a positive voice. “Besides, what’s the point of having loads of awesome powers if I can’t use them to fix things? Or, in this case, to stop myself from getting a broken nose?”

  “Okay fine. But just be more careful next time,” Harvey said as the bell finally rang and they were allowed to jog off court to the safety of the bleachers. “Anyway, are we still okay to go to the library and work on this history assignment? Because I swear that this time I really am going to fail. I don’t even know the difference between World War I and World War II.”

  “About twenty years for a start,” Sophie told him before giving him a reassuring smile. “And yes, the library is definitely still on.” Especially since, despite history being her favorite subject, she hadn’t started her own assignment either. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the only thing she couldn’t really use her magic on was homework. Well, she kind of could, but only if she had done the research first, which seemed a bit pointless.

  “Thanks, Sophie,” Harvey said. But before she could answer him, Kara’s cell phone beeped, and her friend quickly pulled it from her pocket and studied the screen. Sophie was immediately distracted as her heart pounded with nerves and excitement.

  “Any news?” she asked while trying to resist the urge to cross her fingers. Ever since she had discovered the truth about her dad, she had been trying to get an appointment with the Djinn Council so that the members could open up a special djinn safe-deposit box that he had left her. However, despite Malik going to see them last week, Sophie was still waiting to hear back. It was definitely starting to grate on her.

  Even worse, she was the only sixth grader without a cell phone, and all her plans to conjure one up had been nixed by Malik on the grounds that her mom wouldn’t like it. She had tried to point out that her mom probably wouldn’t like Sophie being a djinn either, but Malik wouldn’t listen, and he had totally guilt-tripped her out of doing it. Of course it hadn’t stopped him from getting one for himself, and he had promised to send Kara a text message if he had heard anything.

  “No. I’m sorry. It’s just about a stagehand meeting tomorrow. It’s going to be in the art room instead of the auditorium,” Kara explained. Kara was an art buff and had recently signed up to help make the backgrounds and props for the upcoming musical, The Wizard of Oz.

  “Oh.” Sophie tried to bite back her disappointment while reminding herself that she was a positive person. However, before she could say anything else, there was a rustling of wings, and a gigantic pink pigeon suddenly appeared in the middle of the basketball court.

  Sophie had seen pink pigeons before, when she’d ordered things from Rufus’s Bazaar, but Kara and Harvey hadn’t, which would explain why they were frozen to the spot. Thankfully, the gym was otherwise empty, and Sophie hurried toward the bird, trying to figure out if she’d ordered anything djinn-related recently. However, on account of spending the last of her pocket money at the Neanderthal Joe concert, she was pretty sure that she hadn’t.

  As she got closer, she could see that the bird was holding a letter in its beak (and glaring at her, all at the same time). She tentatively held out her hand to get the letter, but before she could, the bird took a step away and made a snorting noise. She turned to Harvey.

  “Do you have any snacks in your bag? It won
t complete the delivery unless it’s given a tip, but unfortunately, it refuses to eat conjured-up food. Malik says it’s just being contrary, but I don’t want to risk offending it.”

  “Oh.” Harvey didn’t look happy as he reluctantly undid his backpack. “Well, I guess I have a Mars bar, but I was saving it up for the library. Are you sure you need it? I mean, for all we know the bird is just delivering some junk mail?”

  “Harvey,” Kara interjected before Sophie could say anything. “Just give her the candy.”

  “Fine,” Harvey grumbled as he passed it over and narrowed his eyes at the pink pigeon. The bird ignored him as Sophie gingerly held out the candy bar and crossed her fingers that it wouldn’t bite her. (It would be bad enough to be bitten by a regular overweight pigeon. Being bitten by a pink one would be just a bit too much.)

  Thankfully, the bird seemed happy with the exchange. A second after swiping the candy bar from her hand, it disappeared from sight, leaving them alone with the letter.

  “Wow.” Kara let out a small gasp. “That was crazy. So was Harvey right? Is it just some djinn junk mail?”

  Sophie hardly heard as her fumbling fingers finally smoothed down the piece of paper and studied the name that ran along the top in a lavish cursive that Sophie could barely read. She took a deep breath and turned back to her friends.

  “It’s from the Djinn Council.”

  Kara and Harvey were immediately at Sophie’s side as they peered over her shoulder so that they could read it:

  Dear Initiate,

  Your request to meet with the Djinn Council has been approved. However, since you failed to file a P78U before you made the application, you will have to undergo a Phoenician test to prove that you are magically adept in order for the interview to take place. You will present yourself to us on the third moon of the Agate quarter. You are also required to bring sensible shoes and a raincoat, and upon entering the council chambers, you will sign a 9GJH7 to state that you accept full responsibility for anything that might happen to you during the course of your interview.

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