“Jennifer Sommersby’s Sleight makes magic from an enthralling premise, wonderfully-drawn characters, and beautiful words. It’s hard to avoid descriptors like entrancing, spell-binding and mystical.” —Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series (#1)
SCHEME (AVRA-K #2)
Release Date: April 21st, 2020
The key to good is found in truth.
Genevieve may have left the circus behind in Oregon, but there is plenty of show still to come.
When she and Henry land in France, they are whisked away to Croix-Mare, the home of Henry’s grandfather, Nutesh, where they will prepare for a journey they never could’ve imagined. Now that they have all three AVRAKEDAVRA texts—Life, Death, and Memory—the books must be destroyed in the Undoing.
However, it’s not as simple as taking the books to their birthplace in Babylon and setting them alight. Genevieve and Henry must rely on unexpected allies as they embark on a harrowing global search to acquire pieces necessary to complete the Undoing. They’re offered cover and protection by La Vérité, the secret network of followers devoted to the message of the AVRAKEDAVRA, who, not surprisingly, are found under the big top—because no one does underground quite like the circus.
But loyalties among the magical community are fragile. Genevieve, still grieving the loss of her mother, now struggles to control the new AVRAKEDAVRA-bestowed gifts, and with mounting threats to her psyche and body, she clings mightily to the promise of a brighter future once this is over—if they can survive it. And Henry, broken by his father’s treachery but entranced by the heartwarming connection his family’s text has granted him, grapples with the fact that once they succeed in destroying the books, he’ll lose the only family he has left.
Together, our two young heirs will learn that when hope has abandoned us, the overwhelming love of friendship and family is all the magic we need.
Calling Andronicus a mean lion would be like Calling a tsunami a big wave.
He tore off our wrangler Montague’s face. He didn’t mean to. Lions are wild animals, even if they live with a circus—especially if they live with a circus—and the show Andronicus came from used bullwhips and cattle prods to train him. That cat had some stuff.
But I saved Montague. I was young—six? Seven, maybe? I heard the screams coming from the menagerie, and if you spend any time at a circus, you get to know the good sounds from the bad ones. Montague’s hollers for help, the yowl and roar of an enraged big cat—definitely not good sounds. Naturally, all the important players went running: Ted Cinzio, my “adopted” uncle and owner of the Cinzio Traveling Players Company and the man who rescued Andronicus and his girl Hera (and Gertrude and countless other beasts) from their terrible situations; Baby, the show’s tentmaster and Ted’s right-hand man in all things, and the other half of my mother’s heart; crew leads and roustabouts and Aunt Cece, Ted’s wife; Aleks Jónás of the Jónás Family Flyers, Ash and Violet’s dad; my mother, Delia.
She didn’t want me to see it, but out of all of them, I was really the only one who could do anything for Montague. Baby and my mother warned me, but I loved Montague, just as I loved all of my circus family. I couldn’t just let him die there in the lion’s pen, hay and dirt matting to his hair and neck from the incredible blood loss.
I saved a bird once. It flew into the side of our Airstream trailer. I picked it up and my head exploded in a firework of pain and light. I squeezed that little bird gently and mended its wing and it went from almost dead to alive and flying away in less than a minute. Then I threw up and my mom told me that we have secrets. It was the first time I really listened to the story—the one she told over and over again—about the little girl whose mother told her of a secret family treasure. I knew from then on that we were different.
Which is how I knew I was the only one who could save Montague.
While Ted and the wranglers tranquilized the lion, I sneaked in under their legs and laid my hands on Montague’s face. I pushed the skin back where it should be. I stopped the bleeding and saved his eye.
I was just a kid, so I wasn’t strong enough to restore him completely. I might have been able to if Baby hadn’t scooped me up and run out of the menagerie tent. Too many people were watching. But this was before everyone recorded everything on their phones. No one thought to record the little girl with the magic hands.
No matter. It has all caught up to me now.
And as I watch Montague in his predawn jog across the massive lawns of the Delacroixs’ French estate, his heavily scarred face a reminder of that day at the circus, I think about how I’d give anything to go back to that life, to those people, to that day, when I saved someone I loved.
When I believed I still could.
Delia smiles at the shadow only she sees—
Something slams into her. The lyra whirls like a half-dollar spinning on its edge.
My mother is thrown backward.
And she falls.
Growing up in the Cinzio Traveling Players Company, Genevieve Flannery is accustomed to a life most teenagers could never imagine: daily workouts of extravagant acrobatics; an extended family of clowns; wild animals for pets; and her mother, Delia, whose mind has always been tortured by visions—but whose love Geni never questions. In a world of performers who astonish and amaze on a daily basis, Delia’s ghostly hallucinations never seemed all that strange . . . until the evening Geni and her mother are performing an aerial routine they’ve done hundreds of times, and Delia falls to her death.
That night, a dark curtain in Geni’s life opens. Everything has changed.
Still reeling from the tragedy, the Cinzio Traveling Players are also adjusting to the circus’s new owner: a generous, mysterious man whose connection to the circus—Geni suspects—has a dark and dangerous history. And suddenly Geni is stumbling into a new reality of her own, her life interrupted daily by the terrors only Delia used to be able to see.
As the visions around her grow stronger, Geni isn’t sure who she can trust. Even worse, she’s starting to question whether she can trust her own mind.
Praise for Sleight
“Fantasy readers will fall in love with Sleight. Like a circus, it’s an intoxicating mix of beauty, humor, magic, and danger that means the reader can’t bear to look away until the final page.” —Eileen Cook, author of With Malice
“Startlingly imaginative and vividly realized.” —Ira Bloom, author of Hearts & Other Body Parts
About the author:
Really, though, who am I? How about a list? We Virgos tend to like lists:
- Writer, copy/line editor (www.plumfieldediting.com)
- I reside in the Great White North, though the webbed feet prove that I originate from Portland, Oregon. Last U.S. address was Los Angeles. No, I do not miss the traffic. (Although Vancouver is #2 in North America for Worst Traffic Ever.) I do miss California's awesome beaches.
- I write under the pen name Eliza Gordon for non-YA titles -- romantic comedies and Happily Ever Afters. (These books are NOT for kids. Mature themes, adult language, super-inappropriate jokes that will make you giggle. Well, I hope.)
- Member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)
- Member of the eight-person fiction cohort of the 2007 Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University
- Studied copy and substantive editing (2005-06) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. As a writer, I have worked with and studied the practices of some of the best editors in the publishing industry. #luckyJenn
- Studied English, political science, and criminology via Washington State University
- I'm called Mom by three brilliant babies.
- I will never join the PTA or PAC, so please, don't ask. I also don't do candle, jewelry, or clothing parties. Thanks, though. I'm sure the finger sandwiches are delicious.
- I used to do all of my first-draft writing in the car, at night, in the parking lot of my favorite coffee shop. These days I write where it's quietest -- home, or my local coffee shop.
- I buy a lot of books. A LOT. No, seriously. I have a problem.
- I am a soundtrack/movie score JUNKIE. Hans Zimmer and Alexandre Desplat and Sonya Belousova and the Greyson-William brothers and Ramin Djawadi … and HARRY ESCOTT. *swoon* He followed me back on Twitter and I almost died. Almost. If you ever need movie score recommendations, I AM YOUR PERSON.
- I am obsessed with elephants and otters. I'd like to smooch one of each someday.
- Cat person. The household is ruled by an overweight tuxedo cat named Nuit and her very energetic little sister, Rosie Cotton (named after Samwise Gamgee’s wife from Lord of the Rings).
- I love coffee, Shakespeare (!!!), Joan of Arc, most things pastry, MOVIES (oh man I love movies so much), the Golden Rule, and bloody good writing.
- I am Team Superman all the way. I wear the same outfit every day: a Superman T-shirt and jeans, and I have a very cool Superman tattoo inspired by the artwork of comic book artist Jim Lee.
- I adore Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit -- and I ship Kili + Tauriel forever, and I don't care if Tauriel wasn't in original Hobbit story. <3 #Aragon #Thorin #Kili #Fili
- I now have five tattoos, including the Dwarvish script from Kili's rune stone (from Desolation of Smaug). I waited until my 30s to get my first tattoo, just to be sure I wouldn't regret it.
- Muses help me write -- I have many. I love movie stars!
- I hate thunderstorms, paperwork, people lacking humility, lazy writers with a sense of entitlement, and going to the dentist. Oh, and bad drivers. THE BAD DRIVERS TURN ME INTO A RAGE STORM OF CALAMITOUS DOOM.