Fifteen year old Alana Weatherbee leaves home for the first time to study at the School of Shines of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Finding herself the school outcast, she gains acceptance by becoming champion of the Labyrinth Games in spite of her teammates, the school bullies. Then Alana meets Logan, another outcast and, together, they fight to save their world from the evil Book of Spells.
Also by Jack Sorenson on obooko:
Jacks School of Shines
Spooks and Magic
The Adventures of Anna of Waverly Manor
Alana got off the back of Headmaster Barns' broomstick and followed him inside the castle which housed the School of Shines. Her eyes darted this way and that, taking it all in. Alana had only heard stories of this place and of its many ghosts.
"Alana, this way." He picked up a candle and led her up two flights of stairs. They turned left and he knocked on the first door. It creaked open to reveal an old woman wearing an even older dark blue bathrobe, one pocket torn at the corner. Her gray hair frizzed around her wrinkled face and she smelled of liniment and lemon drops.
"Pardon me, Professor, for bothering you at this late hour, but I have a new student," Headmaster Barns explained. "This is Miss Alana Weatherbee."
"Not Wizard Weatherbee's daughter?" The professor smiled at her.
"The same. We've just come in from Nottingham. Could you please find her some supper and show her to her room?"
"Certainly. Certainly." The professor stepped into the hallway and patted Alana's light brown hair with one knob-knuckled hand. "How old are you, dear?"
"Fifteen." Alana stared at the ancient woman, wondering if she should ask her age.
"Fifteen?" She tilted her head, studying her too large blue eyes and her porcelain face. "You're a bit small for fifteen."
Alana grumbled, "I'm not that short." Then the thought crossed her mind, Fifteen, gosh, I've never said that out loud before. Where'd the time go?
The professor graciously omitted commenting on Alana's bedraggled appearance. Her hair needed combed and her jeans had muddy hems. No one could ever accuse her of being "girly." But Alana did wash her face and put on shoes for the trip. Her father made her while he and the headmaster spoke privately in the parlor. Just before she left home with the headmaster, she'd spent the afternoon releasing all of her exotic pets back into the forest. Her father wouldn't know what to feed them, and none of her ghost friends could lend a hand. She had no human friends to ask.
"Don't let her size fool you," the headmaster cut in. "She's already well known in her village for her magical abilities. That's why her father agreed to send her here." With a wave, Headmaster Barns bid them goodnight and left her to her fate.
* * *
Her first day at the wizard's School of Shines was predictable. Everyone tried to pull a fast one on the new kid, but most gave up after getting no response. Alana gripped her wand, just in case of foul play.
Between first and second class, three girls approached her and stopped. The one in the middle crossed her arms, shifted her weight to her left leg, raised her nose at her and said, "Humph." By far the prettiest of the three, she seemed to be their leader. The other girls looked at Alana's shoes like they were from another planet.
"You're new here, aren't you?" the leader asked, glancing to her giggling friends, already knowing the answer.
"Yes. Got in last night." Noting her glossy red, manicured fingernails, Alana stuffed her hands with their chewed off nails in her pockets.
"What's your name?"
"Alana. Hi. I'm Judy. This is Denise and she's Carolyn." Judy's blonde curls bobbed over her right shoulder at a tall, lanky brunette with an overbite, and then to a round, short girl with freckles sprinkled across her cheeks. Carolyn kept pushing her glasses back onto her nose.
"Weatherbee? Wait? Isn't she that wizard's weird daughter?" Denise asked without thinking.
"Weird daughter?" Alana took a step closer; her eyes narrowed. "What's so weird about me?"
"Um...um...nothing." Denise turned red and the other two snickered.
"No. I want to hear it."
"Okay." Judy jutted her jaw. "You don't have any friends. People say you're wilder and more wicked than a husker boar. You spend all your time making spells and talking to ghosts, which I can believe now that I see your clothes. Doesn't your mother ever take you shopping?"
Alana's well-maintained anger turned to instant red. Whirling around, she ran down the hall, looking for an asylum to hide before her next class. She stood in the middle of an empty room and gave a Wondrous Spell that would reach the girls in a few minutes. After gaining some composure, she walked out of the room, feeling better. Laughter filled the hallway from the other students and the girls ran past her, being chased by an incredible beast with bulging eyes, hairy chest and a horrible smell. Alana just smiled and walked on.
In spite of that one encounter, Alana breezed through all her morning classes because her love of books gave her advanced knowledge. With her hood pulled low, she silently made her way to the cafeteria. After getting her food, she sat down at an empty table and pulled out a thick spell book written in Azarathean. She was flipping through the many pages when someone interrupted me.
"Hey, newbie, that's our table," a nasally voice sneered.
Alana turned from her spell book and noticed the lunchroom had gone silent; everyone stared at her. No one wanted to miss a minute of the action. She looked at the three in front of her. These must be the criminal gang, the school bullies, she once saw on the news. Wait, or was it the wanted poster in the old post office? What were their names? Ah yes, Wolfgang, Mammoth, and Wyatt.
Trouble, I dare say. Do I have a sign on my back saying 'new girl in school?'
Wolfgang, the boy who had talked to her, hovered a few feet above the ground, courtesy of the oversized broom he acquired from the poor kid crying in the background. Wolfgang was a small, messy haired boy in ripped blue jeans and a white T-shirt. Next to him stood a boy of average size with bright red hair and connect-the-dot freckles. Wyatt's longhaired locks were pulled up into two horns and his rose colored cat eyes were in slits. Standing behind him was a large teen, aptly named Mammoth. He towered above many in the cafeteria, glaring down at her. Hair covered most of his face, making Alana wonder if he'd ever heard of a comb or hairbrush.
"Hey, we're talking to you!" Mammoth's harsh voice bellowed.
"Yes?" she asked in her signature monotone, and her eyes narrowed.
"You're sitting at our table," Wyatt said in a dangerous voice.
The lunch crowed went, "Aw."
Alana shrugged and turned away. "I heard you the first time," she told him without a hint of emotion in her voice.