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Mortified by Kristy Jackson, illustrated by Rhael McGregor

Comedy and cringe come together in this sweet story about learning to face one's fears

Start Reading Mortified and enter to win a copy. On sale May 21, 2024.

The room was littered with candles, bits of branches, tarot cards, incense, crystals and other things I couldn’t even begin to understand. Three ancient-looking books were on her desk.

Her room sounds creepy, but it wasn’t. There was a warm, welcoming vibe, and I always felt comfortable in there.

“Can you believe my own mother would do that to me?” I sputtered. “She confessed, and then she had the nerve to threaten to punish me!”

Sally had brought two pieces of her mother’s saskatoon berry pie to her room for us, but they sat on the floor untouched, and the ice cream had started to melt. It was terrible to waste such perfect pie, but my stomach was too tied up in knots to even think about digesting.

Sally yawned and stretched. My anger was its own beast today, and suddenly I found it directed at Sally.

“What? Am I boring you?”

“Kinda.” She yawned again.

All I could do was stare at her. “Are you serious? Have you even been listening?”

Sally nodded. “Sorry, but I kinda agree with your mom.” I’ll leave out what I said here. It wasn’t very nice. But Sally only laughed. “Look, I’ve known you long enough to know that you totally love the theatre. And you waste your time feeling so self-conscious that you won’t even try. I’ve never met anyone so smart and pretty and talented who just hides all the time.”

I sat there staring, too stunned to say anything. Betrayed first by my mother and then by my best friend. My back was starting to hurt from all the knives stabbed into it. Sally looked worried at the change in my expression.

“My coven leader tells me I need to be more sensitive to other people’s feelings. Your face tells me this is one of those times. I’m sorry. Does that help?”

I looked at the hopeful, clueless expression on her face. It was clear she really and truly didn’t get the concept of embarrassment, but she was trying, which counted for something.

“I wish I could be like you,” I muttered.

“Nobody wants to be like me,” Sally said, and grinned. For her, this was a statement of fact—something to be proud of and not a way of putting herself down.

To change the subject, I grabbed one of the old books on her desk and thumbed through it. It was leather-bound and had the words “Practical Magick” written on the cover in Old English–style letters. Underneath, in smaller writing, was “Spells for the Moderne-Day Witch.” By the looks of the book, “moderne day” might have been a hundred years ago. There was no author listed. I found myself liking the musty smell and the crinkly feeling of the pages.

“See anything in there that you like? I didn’t think you were into this stuff.”

“I’m not. I wish there was a spell to help me perform on stage, though.” I put the book back down on her desk.

“There is a spell we could try,” Sally said, her green eyes flashing as she grabbed the book. For some reason, the sound of the turning pages sent a shiver up my spine. “Where is it? Oh yeah! Here it is.”

I looked where Sally was pointing. The title of the spell was in the same Old English writing. Below it was a poem and some instructions. “I’m not technically supposed to have this book, and I haven’t tried anything in here yet,” she said, her voice rising with excitement. “What do you say? Want to give it a whirl?” Sometimes it was hard being friends with someone who believed in weird things. Sally’s spells never actually did anything, of course, but the look on her

face was so eager, so hopeful. I didn’t have the heart to refuse.

“Sure, why not? It can’t make things any worse.”

Why did I have to go and challenge the Universe like that?

Excerpt from Mortified, Copyright © 2024 by Kristy Jackson and Rhael McGregor. All rights reserved.

Mortified will be available in bookstores across Canada and online on May 21, 2024

Enter for your chance to win a copy of Mortified by
Kristy Jackson, illustrated by Rhael McGregor

Enter for your chance to win a copy of Mortified by Kristy Jackson, illustrated by Rhael McGregor

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