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Girl vs. Ghost (Misdirected Magic, Book 1) Paperback – April 10, 2011
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
From the Author
Isabel Lindley surreptitiously pressed the backlight button on her watch. Its digital display gleamed like a mini beacon in the dimness of her candlelit bedroom. Seventeen minutes and fifteen seconds past nine o'clock at night. Precisely two minutes and seven seconds since the last time she'd checked.
"Isabel!" Her best friend, Tripp Macauley, paused in the midst of an incomprehensible chant. The hood of her royal-blue wizard's robe obscured her face, but her tone made it clear she was frowning. "You're not focusing."
The two of them were seated tailor fashion at opposite edges of a six-foot-diameter circle Tripp had created by pouring a thick trail of table salt--which was going to be a major hassle to vacuum up. Isabel tipped forward a notch to give her aching backside a moment's relief from the hardness of the uncarpeted floor.
"Yes, I am." Sort of.
"No, you're not," Tripp said. "Whenever your attention wanders, it breaks the energetic field binding us together."
"I don't understand how I can make or break anything when I know nothing about casting spells." And in spite of Tripp's elaborate pretensions to witchy wisdom, Isabel didn't think her friend was much better.
"You don't need to know anything," Tripp said. "All you have to do is be my amplifier."
A fancy job title for waving the candle Tripp had given her every time Tripp waved hers. "All right. Sorry."
Isabel sighed. Normally, nothing her quirky friend dragged her into bothered her. On the contrary, over the past seven years of their friendship, Isabel had found quite a few of Tripp's endless string of hobbies a lot of fun. So much so that Isabel had kept on with more than a few of them long after Tripp had moved on.
That definitely wasn't going to happen this time, though. Something occurred when she helped Tripp perform witchcraft that Isabel couldn't explain and couldn't shake--an eerie impression of being watched that was seriously creeping her out.
On Thursday, during the first of three repetitions of Tripp's spell on consecutive nights--which Tripp had proclaimed was crucial to insure the spell's success--Isabel had written off the experience as the result of too much caffeine. And when Isabel had kept uneasily glancing over her shoulder throughout the Friday-night spell session, she'd decided she was stressed out from a pop quiz in Advanced Placement Biology on what was barely the fourth day of the new school year.
But there was nothing she could blame her jitters on tonight. It was Saturday, so she hadn't had classes, and she'd had plenty of rest with no need for caffeine. Even so, the spooky sensation was so relentless, it was shredding her nerves.
Isabel scanned her bedroom as she continued to absently follow Tripp's lead in their candle dance. She could easily see under the twin-sized, platform bed to her left. Its coverlet was a hand-made quilt--a relic of Tripp's patchwork phase in the seventh grade--that came no farther than the upper edge of the birch frame. Nothing could hide under there.
Isabel's gaze skipped over laminated posters of classic horror movies and various systems of the human anatomy that hung on her walls and settled on the doors in her room. All three, the one to the living room, her en suite bathroom, and her closet, were shut. The blinds over the double windows facing her were closed, too, but it wouldn't have mattered if they were open. The condo where she and her divorced mother lived was on the tenth floor of a high-rise building in Alexandria, Virginia, and there were no other tall buildings nearby. There was no possibility anyone could be spying on her. None.
But the crawling on her skin refused to stop.
For the third night in a row, he hung like a spider from the ceiling of the shadowy bedroom of two teenage girls. They'd perched themselves on either side of a circle outlined on a hardwood floor with what appeared to be white sand, and the one shrouded like the Grim Reaper recited gibberish from a three-ring binder haloed by black mist.
Each time her friend, a blonde in jeans and a black T shirt with the slogan, "I heart zombies," swirled her candle in tandem with the Reaper's, a weird light-show began. Wisps of back-lit purple smoke trickled from the blonde's belly; a thick, red smoke-light surged from the Reaper's midsection, and a churning, black cloud billowed from the binder. The black light wrapped itself around the other two colors and merged them at the center of the circle into a dark-red fountain--whose spray was aimed directly at him.
Fortunately, when the murky red light hit him, he felt nothing more than a slight tingling sensation, so he didn't feel threatened by it.
Until the third round.
The Reaper suddenly yowled like an angry cat; the red fountain exploded into an orange geyser, and he catapulted toward the floor.
His shout echoed the Reaper's as he splatted inside the circle, and a shriek from the blonde completed their ear-busting chorus.
"What the...? How did you get in here?" the blonde demanded.
He lifted his spinning head to respond, and his accuser scrambled to her feet.
"Stay back!" She yanked her arms chest high in a fighter's defensive stance, and he wasn't sure if she planned to take off running or use his skull for a soccer ball.
He was in no shape for a brawl, but even if he had been, the thought of hitting a girl horrified him. He shifted carefully onto his back while raising his hands in surrender to reassure her that he was harmless.
"What's wrong, Isabel?" her friend asked from the depths of her hood.
"How can you ask that with a strange guy practically lying in your lap?"
"What guy? Where?"
"Are you blind? Him, Tripp, him!" Keeping her fists up, Isabel jabbed an elbow toward the intruder to indicate where he sprawled. What was the matter with Tripp?
This was one of the worst of the worst-case scenarios they'd trained for at the full-contact, self-defense class Tripp had talked Isabel into taking with her last year.
Tripp twisted toward the floor lamp behind her and reached up to pull its chain. "Uh, Isabel?" Tripp shoved back her hood with a hand weighed down by gaudy rings.
"What?" Isabel spared a split-second glance from her vigilant monitoring of the stranger, whom she could see even more clearly in the blaze of light Tripp had introduced into the gloomy room.
Tripp's makeup-laden face, framed by spiky, green-streaked, black hair, revealed no emotion but confusion. "I don't see anyone."
"Of course you do," Isabel said as she asked herself what she should do next to keep herself safe. And Tripp, too, if she insisted on acting like an easy target.
Tripp was silent a moment, then said thoughtfully, "I actually did a summoning spell, but I said we were doing a spell to open ourselves to spirit world."
Isabel held her focus on the intruder. "What are you talking about?"
"That's it," Tripp said with a huge smile. "That has to be what happened. I inadvertently changed the spell's intent by how I presented it."
"Tripp! Stop babbling, get up, and start backing toward the door."
Fortunately, so far, instead of leaping to attack them, the intruder remained in a passive slump, tracking the verbal volleys between her and Tripp with the lethargic head rolls of a drunk at a tennis match. But it would be terminally stupid to count on his staying in that convenient state indefinitely.
"Isabel, calm down. This guy may be a home invader, but he's not the kind you think."
About the Author
Kate McMurry is married with two grown children, one of whom is her coauthor, Marie August. Kate and her husband Chris share their home with an adorable rat terrier named Dottie. Kate has worked as an English teacher, a therapist, a paralegal, and a freelance writer. Girl vs Ghost is her first published novel.
Marie August has a bachelors degree in visual art and has written fiction since her teens, with the guidance and encouragement of her mother, Kate McMurry. Marie and Kate have partnered as a fiction team since 2006. In addition to coauthoring Girl vs Ghost, Marie has created a comic based on its first chapter, which can be enjoyed for free at the Misdirected Magic website.
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Top customer reviews
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This was a book that I won through the Goodreads First Reads giveaways and, thus far, it has become my favorite read of the almost 30 books I've received. (Ok, so it's only the third one that I've read, but I really enjoyed it.) The authors are able to mix just the right amount of humor, paranormal and teenaged-reality into the book that it had me not wanting to close the covers until I'd finished it.
Each of the four main characters (Isabel, Tripp, Marc - the "ghost boy" and Parker, Tripp's nemesis) are people I could easily imagine having been in my high school. They are a bit on the stereo-typical side - the weird girl with the wild hair, the serious, driven geek, the haughty rich boy and the gorgeous latino boy. But they characters seemed to work well together and made me anxious to read more. I could also have seen myself being friends with a couple of girls like Isabel and Tripp when I was in school.
I loved the sniping between Marc and Isabel throughout, with them only realizing at the end that maybe they don't want to be separated from one another. And then wondering if it was too late.
The story kept a good pace through-out, none of it seeming to drag anywhere. The authors brought the reader along, teasing out bits and pieces of what happened to Marc and why and, in the end, slammed them with something they probably hadn't seen coming (at least, I didn't). I'll admit that I was having flashbacks to the Charmed episode, "Dead Man Dating", thinking that Isabel was going to fall in love with a ghost that would have to leave her. Instead, I was very satisfied to read the ending.
The paranormal portions weren't too spooky, though the things on the backs of the students at the school were a bit freaky (basically, ghosts that hadn't crossed over but instead stayed and became bitter, bringing out the worst in the people they latch on to). I'm far from an expert in witchcraft (much of what I know is media based) but things seemed plausible. And the reason for Parker and Tripp's spellings messing each other up seemed like a wonderful way to draw everyone into this sticky wicket.
The authors included the first chapter of the next book, Witch vs Wizard in the back of this one, and it's got me jonsing for the next one to come out. It will be out at some point this year, though I'm not sure when. This is one that, if I can't manage to get a copy through winning it, I will definitely buy. Because I can't wait to see what happens with these four next.
Isabel was an alright character. I get the impression that she's smart. So while she comes off as really self absorbed, I would be willing to bet that she actually just really shy. She's also really set in her ways. So, it's more than a little inconvenient when she's saddled with a ghost who is literally chained to her. I wasn't sure that her anger at Tripp was justified. For someone who is so grounded in reality, I think it was the shock that her friend managed to accomplish something that she really wasn't expecting. I like the way she handles being chained to ghost that no one else can see.
I really wasn't overly fond of Tripp. She's dabbling in magic that she really knows nothing about. Worse, when she admits she might need help getting rid of the ghost she asks Isabel to lie to her grandmother about really happened. As it turns out, she's also lying to Isabel about the spell she was really trying to perform. She's a little overconfident in her own abilities and knowledge.
There's some twists in the book that I wasn't expecting. Turns out the spells Tripp has been using are from a book that don't belong to her. And the owner is a little unhappy about her use of them. His involvement makes the story a little more interesting.
Overall, an ok book. It's well worth the $0.99 for the ebook formats.
When I first read the synopsis of this book I was very excited about it because being a paranormal romance, with a hint of comedy, I assumed that the relationship between Marc and Isabel may be similar to that of Meg Cabot's "Mediator" series Suze and Jesse, however it was anything but -for all but the last few pages of the book Marc and Isabel constantly bickered or got on one another's nerves and it was quite disappointing (though I am ecstatic to see that there is a glitter of hope for a relationship of that sort in the next book in the series).
And it pains me to admit, but not only did Marc and Isabel get on one another's nerves, but they, alongside the other main character of the book, Tripp, also got on my nerves. Why? Because I found them so difficult to relate to. There were countless instances in the story where I couldn't fathom their thought processes (and in more than one occasion I wanted to jump through the book and shake some sense into them). Furthermore, they were not quite as developed as I had hoped them to be (Yes Tripp is a quirky and open-minded character whereas Isabel really isn't, but what else?).
All in all, I think that this book had the potential to be really great but that it didn't fully live up to said potential. While there definitely are some funny moments to the book, the large majority of it was underwhelming (though, as mentioned, I did have an "AHA!" moment with what went down at the very end of the book and I am excited to see how Kate and Marie play with that in the next book in the series).
Most recent customer reviews
This was a fast and fun read. I feel the Mother/Daughter author team of Kate McCurry and Marie August have...Read more