Identical twins Jane and Catherine Gracey are known as the weird kids. Mocked and misunderstood for their love of the strange and the unusual, they only have each other to feel less alone. That is until they meet a friendly witch named Mrs. Macabre, who takes them to a world filled with monsters and where every day is like Halloween. But something from Mrs. Macabre's past is haunting their adventures. Something that could mean great danger to them both.
Fans of Mary Poppins, Tim Burton, and Neil Gaiman, will surely love this story that celebrates the spookiness within us all.
IT WAS PAST MIDNIGHT when the raven and the cat materialized from the dark. Materialized is the correct term, for if you had been outside at such a late hour or had peeked from your window, you would’ve seen the animals emerge from the darkness as if it were a curtain. Their black feathers and fur glistening in the street lamps. You would have also noticed how odd the pairing was. The raven was not flying from the cat, nor was the cat chasing after the raven. They were both moving as if they were on a stroll together, the raven hovering slightly above the cat.
Once they had exited from the night, they both stopped at the end of the street, with the raven landing next to the cat. They stood there for a moment, as if they were trying to figure out what to do next.
“So,” the cat finally said to the raven, “we’re here aren’t we?”
“Patience, Elvira,” the raven said to her companion. “We should wait first.” The raven spoke with a voice that was deep, smooth, and confident. The voice of a woman who had done her fair share of waiting before.
“Wait for what?” Elvira said impatiently. She scratched her ear with her paw.
A bright light came from off to the side, a car was speeding right towards them. The raven flew with a caw and landed on the nearest light post. Elvira arched her back and hissed, her eyes filled with fear, the car honked, swerved, but hit her nonetheless.
“That,” the raven said and flew down to her companion, her talons hitting the ground with a righteous click.
The cat’s body lay limp for a moment, then there were the sounds of small cracks as her bones reformed inside herself. She blinked and got up. “Can’t believe you made me waste a life on one of those things,” Elvira shook her head. “Why do they have such ugly machines here?”
“Because they don’t have magic here, darling,” she sighed, tenderly. “How many lives do you have left now?”
“One,” Elvia grumbled.
“Oh,”The raven paused, embarrassed by how flippant she had been. “Then we’ll be more cautious from now on, won’t we?” She looked down the street, left and then right. “Now, I believe the coast is clear.”
The raven placed her wings in front of her and bowed her head into them. If you were to gaze once again from the window or the street, you would’ve been so shocked that you might have thought you were dreaming. Yes, two talking animals were alarming enough, but what was even more alarming was that the raven was growing. The bird grew to the height of an average adult, her wings wrapped around her body, her feathers swished as if hundreds of dresses were being unfurled together. The feet of the bird turned into heels with pointed toes. Her wings grew pale hands with black nails and her feathers became a black dress. The head of the bird had changed to a woman’s with skin the color of paper and hair and lips as dark as the night sky. She wore a small hat that had a black feather sticking out of it with a veil that draped on the side of her face. In her hand, she held a broom. The transformation was complete and there, standing next to the cat on an ordinary street, was Mrs. Macabre.
“Show off,” Elvira scoffed.
“Now, now, my dear,” Mrs. Macabre smiled, “there are plenty of people who can turn into animals, but not too many animals who can talk.”
“Let’s just get this over with,” the cat eyed her companion’s broom. “You might want to change that.
I don’t believe people here are accustomed to walking with brooms down streets?”
Mrs. Macabre looked down at her broom. It was a beautifully ornate thing: Dirty blonde straw from the fear fields, a long black handle made of wood from a hemlock tree with symbols and hieroglyphics carved into it, a skull of a raven sat nicely at the top of it.
“Yes,” she placed a hand to her chin, “yes, I do sup- pose you are right,” there was a moment of silent contemplation, then she exclaimed, “I’ve got it!”
Mrs. Macabre stood next to her broom and began to twirl it with two fingers. It quickly took a life of its own and began to spin without her assistance. As it spun, the broom slowly changed, it’s straw disappeared and was replaced by large bat wings. The broom stopped spinning and it became apparent that there wasn’t any bat wings at all, but the canopy of a black umbrella.
“Better?” She asked.