Though the holiday break is a relief from school, identical twins Jane and Catherine Gracey miss their witchy friend, Mrs. Macabre dearly. No amount of snow days could ever replace the magic and wonder of her world of monsters known as the Hallowland. But when Catie is suddenly taken to the mysterious North, Jane must ask the help of Mrs. Macabre and friends- monster and human alike- to rescue her. However, Father Christmas has plans for Catie. Soon she'll have to face a very dangerous question: Is it better to be Naughty or Nice?
This is the second book in THE MRS. MACABRE CHRONICLES and can be read in order or as an individual volume.
Jane and Catherine Gracey were making devils in the snow. Most children their age would make snow angels, but the twins were insistent on making devils. They would lie down, as they were doing now, in the snow and spread their arms and legs until they formed the bodies. Then, they would stand and trace horns on the heads and paint menacing eyes and wicked grins with their fingers. It was their annual tradition to celebrate the last day of school before winter break.
“Mine is better,” Catie said, admiring her craftsmanship. “No way,” Jane ribbed her. “Your wings are too wide and the eyes are off. Mine are the perfect proportions. Classic demon.”
“Judge!” Catie called and their friend Abraham Vasquez came up to them from several feet away.
“Yeah?” He asked, steam puffing out of his mouth and shivering.
“Which one do you think has the better snow demon?” Jane crossed her arms and tilted her head up with confidence.
“If I tell you, can we go back inside?” He asked.
“Why?” They said in unison and then punched each other on the shoulder.
“I’m freezing,” he rubbed his arms furiously.
Jane looked at Catie. “I hadn’t noticed,” she said and shrugged. It was true that they were so bundled up in their coats and had lived in the same town for their entire lives that they never realized just how cold it was. Snow blanketed the ground in long, white sheets and icicles hung from trees like ornaments. They could hear the faint scraping sound of ice skaters across the nearby lake.
“I’m from Miami,” he sighed. “I don’t know what cold is.” “I understand your misery, Bram,” Catie placed a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “But which one is better?”
“Um. . . “ he thought for a moment, scratching his chin. “Yours?”
“This contest is rigged I tell ya!” Jane cried out and kicked a foot full of snow onto their creations, wiping them away. Catie smiled triumphantly.
“Want to take a look at mine?” Bram cocked a gloved thumb behind him.
“Sure!” The twins said and followed him down a slope, helping one another steady themselves. They reached the bottom and saw Bram’s work of snow art.
“Ta-da!” He said, holding out his arms in a theatrical gesture. In front of them was not a demon, but a vampire. Traced in white, the creature’s wings had been sculpted to resemble bat wings and on his mouth were a set of fangs that he had made with his fingers. The body of the vampire was in the shape of a long cloak. “I said, ta-da!” Bram reiterated after a pause.
“Nice form,” Jane stroked her chin and looked at her sister. “Yes, yes, I agree with Ms. Gracey very much,” Catie walked around it, studying the figure. “But. . . “
“But, what?” Bram asked, frustrated, “It’s not like either of you have seen a real vampire.”
Jane and Catie exchanged a knowing glance. They had, in fact, not only seen a vampire, but many of them. The memory of the vampire ball in the Hallowland came back to both of them. The red gowns and beautiful ornate halls of the Crimson Castle entered their heads as if it had happened yesterday and not several months ago. Indeed, it had been frightening to narrowly escape undead creatures of the night, but there was something exciting about it as well. Something that was missing from their comparatively mundane lives.
“Well, since yours is certainly the most creative, Mr. Vasquez,” Jane said, adjusting her make-believe glasses. “We declare you the winner of the Snow Monster Festival of the year.”
Bram shot both of his arms up. “Yessssss! When do I get my trophy?”
“We shall send it to you by mail,” Catie said.
“But you have to pay for shipping,” Jane added.
“In that case, you can keep it,” Bram smiled and they all started to laugh. Their fun was blotted out soon afterwards by the dark shape that surrounded them. The shadow was long and thin, both of its arms were on its hips in defiance, the faintest hint of a pony tail could be seen on its head. There was only one person that could cast such an ominous specter of doom, and that person was Courtney Clearwater.
She stood on the small hill that the Gracey twins had just come from, looming over them like a Barbie doll come to life. Her golden hair shimmered in the sunlight, her bubblegum pink winter clothes were like a splotch of paint on a white canvas. Her perfectly manicured lashes and brows arched at them with content, and her glossy lips sneered at them in the grin of a fox that had just entered the hen house.
“Hi, weirdos,” she said, her voice like ice breaking. “Whatcha doin’?”
“Nothing you would like,” Jane growled.
“Well, that’s not very nice to keep all the fun to yourself,” Courtney walked down the hill, snow crunched under her feet as furry bobs bounced up and down on her expensive boots. “Let’s see what you’ve got here.” She walked around the snow vampire, studying it with thoughtful eyes while the other children watched her as if she were a tiger. “Huh. Isn’t that funny?”
“What is?” Bram asked, it came out more like an accusation than a question.
“Well, this looks so smooth and soft,” Courtney gestured to the lines of its body, “I would expect something . . . rougher from a boy.”
Jane stepped towards her, but Catie stopped her. They all knew what was coming.
Courtney moved closer to Bram and smiled. “Guess you still have some girl left in you, after all, Anjelica.”
“Leave him alone!” Jane cried, unable to help herself. “His name is Abraham, you little-“
“What are you going to do, Janey, lecture me to death?” Courtney marched over to her. “Are you going to tell me some stupid fact about Stephen King and I’ll be so impressed by your bookish smarts?” She then turned to Catie. “You got some invention in your pocket, Clever Catie? Something even worse than that head-slicer thing that you made in science class? Why don’t you both go listen to some crappy emo music you freaks!”