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The Thirteen Treasures (13 Treasures Book 1) Kindle Edition
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Even as a small child Tanya had known her grandmother's manor to be home to many secrets. Like everyone, she had heard of the disused escape tunnels rumoured to run beneath the house. And like most children, she spent many a rainy afternoon hunting for their concealed entrances, only to meet with disappointment. By the time she had turned thirteen Tanya had long given up hope of stumbling upon one of these secret passages and had begun to question whether they existed at all.
So when the bookcase had revolved in the wall before her to reveal a narrow stone staircase leading down into musty darkness, it hadn't altogether come as a shock. Nor, though, did it bring the delicious thrill she had so long anticipated, for the circumstances leading to its discovery were quite different from what she had imagined.
Had anyone at the manor been paying proper attention, it might have been apparent that the tunnels were being used - and had been for some time now - to access the house by somebody who had no business in doing so. But all the clues, from the radio news bulletin following the abduction to the strange slithering heard in the old servants' staircase in the dead of the night, had been overlooked. For in isolation, none of the signs had meant much.
Now, as Tanya stood face to face with the wild-eyed intruder in the dingy cavern far beneath the house, the warnings had returned and slotted into place like a key in a lock. She did not know what she had been expecting to find - but it wasn't this.
The girl was not much older than herself: fifteen at the most. Her green eyes belied a hardness and maturity far beyond her years. The knife strapped to her thigh held other possibilities that Tanya could not bring herself to consider, and so she forced herself to train her eyes on the tiny baby in the girl's arms.
The child stared back at her, unblinking. What happened next turned her stomach with fear. As the baby watched her its features warped and then morphed. The tips of the ears elongated and pointed and the skin took on a greenish hue. The eyes in their entirety flooded black, as if with ink, sparkling eerily. All this in the briefest of moments before the ghoulish vision was gone - but Tanya knew what she had seen.
And so did the red-headed intruder.
'You saw.' Her voice was a throaty whisper.
Tanya lowered her eyes to the thing in the girl's arms and swallowed a scream.
'I don't believe it,' the girl murmured. 'You saw. You can see them too.'
A moment of clarity and quiet understanding passed between them as the girl whispered something softly.
'You have the second sight.'
Tanya recoiled. 'What are you doing with that baby?'
'Good question,' the girl replied. 'Sit. I'll tell you my story. I'm sure it's one you'll find interesting.'
© Michelle Harrison 2009
SHE WAS AWARE OF THEIR PRESENCE IN the room before she even awoke.
An ominous twitching had begun in Tanya's eyelids, a sure sign that trouble was on its way. It was this incessant twitching which woke her. Her eyes opened groggily. As usual, she had reverted to her childhood habit of sleeping with her head under the covers. She was uncomfortable, yet reluctant to shift position. If she did it would alert them to the fact that she was awake.
Beneath the stifling covers, Tanya longed to kick the sheets back and allow the soft summer breeze drifting in through the window to wash over her. She tried to tell herself she had dreamed it; maybe they were not really there after all. Still she lay unmoving. For deep down she knew they were there, as surely as she knew she was the only one who could see them.
Her eyelids twitched again. Through the covers she could sense them, could feel the air in the room charged with a strange energy. She could even smell the earthy dampness of leaves, fungi, and ripened berries. It was their smell.
A quiet voice cut through the darkness.
'She sleeps. Should I rouse her?'
Tanya stiffened beneath her sanctuary of sheets. She still had the bruises from the last time. They had pinched her black and blue. A sharp prod in the ribs made her gasp.
'She is not asleep.' The second voice was cold, controlled. 'She is pretending. No matter. I do so enjoy these little...games.'
The last traces of drowsiness left her then. There was no mistaking the underlying threat in those words. Tanya prepared to throw back the sheets - but they were strangely heavy all of a sudden, weighing down on her...and they were growing steadily heavier.
'What's happening...what are you doing?'
She clawed at the sheets, frantically trying to push them away. They seemed to be wrapping themselves around her like a cocoon. For one terrifying moment she struggled for breath before managing to free her head and suck in a lungful of cool night air. In her relief it was several seconds before she noticed the glass star lantern covering the bedroom light bulb was directly in front of her face.
Suddenly, Tanya realised why the bedclothes were so heavy. She was floating in mid-air, five feet above her bed - supporting the full weight of them.
'Put me down!'
Slowly, through no control of her own, she began turning sideways in the air. The bedclothes promptly slid off and fell to the carpet, leaving Tanya hovering face down above her bed in her pyjamas. Without the shelter of the covers she felt horribly vulnerable. She pulled her hair back from her face and scanned the room. The only living thing she saw in the darkness was the cat; a ridiculous fluffy grey Persian curled in a ball on the windowsill. It got up, giving her a haughty look before turning its back to her and settling down once more.
'Where are you?' she said, her voice shaking. 'Show yourselves!'
An unpleasant laugh sounded from somewhere near the bed. Tanya felt herself being propelled forwards and before she knew what was happening she had turned a full somersault in the air, followed by another...and another.
'Just stop it!'
She heard the desperation in her voice and hated it.
The somersaulting stopped and, finally, she landed on her feet - upside down on the ceiling. The curtains billowed weirdly in the breeze. She averted her eyes, trying to steady herself. It was like gravity had reversed for her only. The blood was not rushing to her head, her pyjamas were not falling upwards, and her hair was now tumbling down her back.
She sat down on the ceiling, defeated. This was the reason they came in the middle of the night. She had figured that much out a long time ago. At night she was completely at their mercy, whereas in the day, if she happened to be caught in any strange situation she had a far better chance of passing it off as a game or trick of some kind. Just one of many 'games' and 'tricks' over the years.
She couldn't remember the first time she had seen them exactly. They had always been there. She had grown up chattering away to herself as her parents looked on, in amusement at first, then, later, with concern.
As the years passed she had learned to lie convincingly. Talk of fairies did not wash well with adults once you were past a certain age. There were no more of the knowing looks and fond smiles that came with infancy. Tanya did not take it too personally. People didn't believe in what they couldn't see.
The incidents had become more vindictive of late. It was one thing having to cut out a few tangles after an encounter with an enchanted hairbrush, or finding the answers to homework had been mysteriously tampered with overnight. But this was serious. For months now, Tanya had harboured a nagging worry that eventually something bad was going to happen, something she couldn't explain her way out of. Her worst fear was that her increasingly weird behaviour would land her on the couch of a psychiatrist.
Floating around in the air was not a good predicament. If her mother awoke to find her walking about on the ceiling it wouldn't be a doctor she called - it would be a vicar.
She was in trouble of the worst kind.
There was a waft of cool air on her face and Tanya felt the brush of feathered wings skim her cheek. A large, black bird swooped at her shoulder, its glittering eyes blinking once before the bird morphed as quickly as a shadow would vanish in the sun. Silken black hair and the pinkish tips of two pointed ears replaced the cruel, curved beak, as a woman not much larger than the bird shifted into its place. She wore a gown of black feathers; it was stark against her ivory skin.
'Raven,' Tanya whispered. She watched as a feather fell from the fairy's dress and floated lightly to the carpet. 'Why are you here?'
Raven did not answer. She alighted at the foot of the bed, next to two small figures, one plump and ruddy-nosed, the other dark-skinned, wiry and skittish-looking. Both were watching her intently. The smaller of the two was the first to speak.
'You've been writing about us again.'
Tanya felt her face burn. 'I haven't, Gredin...I didn't.'
Gredin's yellow eyes glittered, shockingly bright in contrast to his nut-brown face. 'But that's what you said last time. And the time before.'
Outside, a dark, rectangular object was drifting towards the open window as though carried on the breeze. It soared gracefully through the curtains and into the room and halted before Tanya's dismayed face. It was a journal, fairly new and in good condition - but covered in soil. She had buried it beneath the apple tree in the garden that afternoon. How foolish she had been.
'Yours I believe?' said Gredin.
'I've never seen it before.'
The plump little fellow next to Gredin snorted.
'Oh...come now,' he said. 'You wouldn't want to be up there all night, would you?' He reached up and gave the peacock feather in his cap a light stroke, then twisted his ratty moustache around his forefinger. The feather shimmered at his touch, rich with enchantment. The fat little man removed the quill from his cap and gave it a deft flick.
The diary opened, releasing a c... --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
First-time novelist Harrison writes with great assuredness, creating a seductive setting and memorable, fully developed characters.-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"
Harrison is an excellent storyteller whose command of language wonderfully matches the scenarios and characters she creates...Fantasy readers who are looking for the next fat book that's both a quick and compelling read will love this one.-- "Booklist"
This truly absorbing page-turner is fresh and clever, and readers will be on the edge of their seats wondering if and how Tanya will outwit her nemeses.-- "School Library Journal (starred review)" --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- ASIN : B008RPFXCA
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster Children's UK; Reissue edition (7 July 2011)
- Language : English
- File size : 1017 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 380 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0316041483
- Best Sellers Rank: #289,555 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
Oh how I loved this and how I wish I read it sooner (and I don't know why I didn't). 'A Pinch of Magic' is one of my all-time favourite children's books so it was quite a trip to read Harrison's debut, 'The Thirteen Treasures'. I love that we have the hallmark Harrison traits - the creepy atmosphere, the superb writing that knows how to execute tension and suspense, and there are quite a few twists along the way!
Tanya is a likeable protagonist and it's hard not to feel for her. I love how smart she becomes over the novel, learning how to outsmart goblins and converse with fairies. Harrison's spin on these creatures is Grimm-esque and it helps build a gorgeous world in 'Thirteen Treasures'. The changeling aspect of this novel is also well-done and only adds to the intrigue - and oh, this series can go in a million places and I cannot, cannot, cannot WAIT to discover more of the magic.
Diving back to Harrison's debut only solidifies her stance as one of my favourite children's authors of all-time.
PS We've just finished it and my daughter has pulled the second book in the series off the shelf and begged me to read it to her because she is desperate to find out what happens next and she wants 'to share it with' me. Great stuff.
She can remember the story/characters - as can I - so we get to discuss the books. Some readers do not absorb the books contents.and forget as soon as read.