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Spells and Sorcery

Spells and Sorcery, book 1 of the Lexie Carrigan Chronicles

You have magic.

One sentence, three words, four syllables. Enough to change my life forever. And I'm not talking about the whole spells and sorcery thing.

Lexie Carrigan thought the weirdest thing about her was she preferred watching documentaries and reading the newspaper to reality TV and Twitter. But on the eve of her fifteenth birthday, her aunt and sisters drop a bomb--she's magical.

Now the girl who never made waves is blowing up her nightstand and trying to keep from wreaking havoc on her school. When a kind stranger shows up with all the answers, Lexie hopes he'll be able to help her control her newfound powers. But Gavon may not be as kind as he seems, and soon Lexie finds out that being magical is the least weird thing about her.

Spells and Sorcery is the first YA fantasy from S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series, the Madion War Trilogy and Empath.

Published:
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Genres:
Excerpt:

I ran out of the house as fast as my legs could carry me. I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't…

Magic?

Was real?

Not only was it real, but I had it. So did that make me a witch or a wizard or…?

Or nothing. Magic didn't exist.

But it did, because I'd seen with my own two eyes.

I slowed and looked behind me to see if Jeanie or Nicole were coming after me. I wanted them to rush out and say it was a giant joke and Marie was in on it and "Ha-ha. Happy birthday idiot."

But as the fall night darkened around me, I heard no voices behind me. Nothing except the random car door slamming or the rumble of a truck passing on the highway nearby.

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Perhaps I'd just imagined the whole thing. Maybe I'd had a stroke.

There was a small park in the distance, and I marched toward it, waiting to wake up from this strange dream. The lamplights snapped on, and I jumped nearly out of my skin, my heart thudding wildly. I stared at the orange glow for a moment, taking a few moments to convince myself that the streetlights were on a timer, and not turning on of their own volition.

They couldn't have been turned on by magic, could they?

Could they?

"I'm losing it," I whispered, covering my face with my hands.

I crossed the grassy park, headed for the swing set. At the very least, I could sit down and think about everything coursing through my brain. I plopped down on the swing and leaned against the chain.

Gently, I swung back and forth, allowing my mind to go blank for just a moment. I took a deep breath in and out and stared at the empty suburban streets.

"Yer a wizard, Lexie…" I whispered to myself.

"Rough day?"

My head bobbled up at the sound. An older man stood on the sidewalk. He wore casual khaki pants and a polo shirt, and his salt-and-pepper hair was neatly trimmed. He stood under one of the street lamps, which gave him an almost angelic sort of glow.

"W-what?" I said, realizing he was still talking to me.

"I asked if you were all right," he said, stepping out of the spotlight and closer to the swing set. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

"Have you ever questioned everything you thought was real?" I asked, for lack of anything better to say.

"Once or twice," he responded with a charming smile. "Mind if I join you?"

I shrugged, and he sat down on the other swing beside me. I might have thought it strange, a middle-aged man on a swing set, but I didn't have a clear definition of weird anymore.

"Want to talk about it?" he asked.

"I doubt you would believe me," I said. "I don't believe me."

"That's a tough spot to be in. Let me guess: did they tell you about magic?"

I nearly fell out of the swing. "W-wait, you know? Does everybody know?"

He laughed, his few wrinkles deepening with smile lines. "No, of course not. Just those of us who have magic."

"A-and how did you know I have it?"

"We can tell," he said. "You'll get there, I'm sure. But I only assumed—teenage girl, looking the way you did, magical…"

I slumped lower against the metal chains. "I wonder what else people are lying to me about…"

"You know about the Easter Bunny, right?"

I sat up, wide-eyed. A man-sized rabbit existed?

"He's not real," the man finished with an amused smile.

"Very funny," I said, clutching my still-pounding heart. "After tonight, I'm pretty sure I'd believe anything is real."

"Magic is real. The Easter Bunny is not. How about we start there?"

"I can't wrap my head around it," I said, looking up at the stars. I might've still been dreaming, but this guy seemed real enough. "I mean, is science really science or is it magic?"

"I'd go out on a limb and say your understanding of science is sound," he said thoughtfully. "Magic tends to stay within magical communities. Not too much gets out into the nonmagical lesson books."

"What about gravity?" I said, lifting my feet from the ground and letting the swing do the work. "Does magic make the earth go 'round?"

"No, the earth rotates due to leftover inertia from when the solar system was created," he said without missing a beat.

My feet thudded back onto the sand and I stared at him. I'd never been out-nerded before.

"Magic is more like another sense," he said, slowly swinging back and forth. "It's like an extra hand you wield with your mind."

"Oh." I frowned. "I don't know what that means."

"Here." He flicked his hand and, in a purple puff of smoke, a thick book appeared in his hand.

My eyes nearly fell out of my head for what felt like the hundredth time that night. "How did you do that? What is that?"

"This," he offered the book to me, "is a primer. It was used in the late seventeenth century for young magicals. Very basic, of course, but the best tutorial I've found to introduce magic."

The most purple book I'd ever seen, it was well-worn, the edges frayed and water damaged. The title, Spells and Sorcery, Volume 1, was embossed in a gold lettering that almost glowed.

It was one thing to see puffs of yellow smoke and sandwiches, but something about this book was alive, and calling to some etherial feeling dancing in the pit of my stomach. 

I shook my head. Probably indigestion. "This is…"

"Go on, open it."

"I…"  Even though I was still in shock, curiosity was starting to take hold. That strange calling grew more pronounced the longer I held the book in my lap. So, almost compelled, I opened the book to the front page and ran a finger along the pressed pages. "Where'd you get this?"

"I’m a collector of old books—specifically magical ones. I’m sort of a history buff." He paused and nodded to it. "Why don't you take that with you and give it a read?"

Something in the back of my mind reminded me of a lesson of a book that housed an evil wizard. I glanced at the book and shook my head. "I can't possibly take this. It's…I mean, it's so old. Probably worth a lot of money."

"Books are meant to be read not gathering dust on a shelf. What good is the knowledge in here if I can't share it?"

I stammered like an idiot and fired off a few reasons why I couldn't, but he placed his hand over mine.

"I insist. Think of it as an early birthday present."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "How did you know it was my birthday? I mean, it's not my birthday. Tomorrow's my birthday."

"Magic comes at the beginning of one's fifteenth year," he said, standing. "I only assumed they wanted to tell you before you woke up with it…"

"Would've been nice if they'd told me sooner," I said, running my fingertips down the front of the book again.

"I have a feeling that book will help," he said, nodding once before turning to leave.

"Oh, I'm Lexie, by the way," I called to him.

He paused and turned back around with a curious expression. "That's an interesting name."

I grimaced. Not the first time I'd heard that. "As in Alexis, but…blah."

"I prefer Alexis myself," he said with a smile. "I'm Gavon. Get home before it gets too dark, okay?"

I nodded and opened my mouth to agree but he was gone.

Just…disappeared in front of my eyes gone. In a puff of purple smoke.

Purple smoke.

What was it about people appearing and disappearing in smoke today?

I ran my hands over the cover of the book absent-mindedly. My head was starting to hurt from all the new information crammed into it. But I could never say no to a book, especially one which promised to give me the answers I so desperately needed.

When I opened the book, I could've sworn the air tingled around me. Or that could've just been my imagination. But I definitely wasn't imagining the way the pages glowed, giving me just enough light to read the first lines.

SPELLS AND SORCERY

Or

YOUNG MAGICAL'S BEST COMPANION

Containing,

SPELLWORK, CASTING, CHARMING, and MAGICAL INCANTATION, in an easier way than any yet published;

INSTRUCTIONS TO CAST VARIETY OF SPELLS; the history of magic and magical persons;

THE LETTERS OF POTION FOR THE un-MAKERS; a short and easy method of cataloguing the magical ingredients; care and feeding for a magical herbs; methods of de-scaling a dragon.

LIKEWISE THE PRACTICAL CHARMING METHODS made easy;

And also prudent advice to young magical users and potion-makers; the whole better adapted to the world of New Salem than any other book of the like kind.

"Here you are."

Nicole's voice pulled me from my reading so quickly I nearly fell off the swing. She and Jeanie were crossing the grass toward me, wearing matching looks of concern on their face.

"We've been looking everywhere for you," Jeanie said, running a hand through her short hair. "Don't take off like that, Lexie."

"Are you all right?" Nicole said.

"I don't know," I said honestly. I was feeling less like I would pass out from panic, but there was still a nugget of disbelief in the back of my mind. Gavon, whoever he was, had been helpful, but I still couldn't reverse fifteen years of reality in half an hour.

"Oh, Lexie." Nicole sat down in the swing Gavon had just vacated. "I'm sorry Marie ruined your Magic's Eve."

"She's in big trouble," Jeanie said, before adding with a wince, "when she gets home."

"What's a Magic's Eve?" I asked.

"The night you grow into your magic. It'll happen at midnight."

"Fabulous," I said, slumping. "And what, exactly, will happen at that point?"

Jeanie shrugged like it was no big deal. "We'll cast a few spells. Then you'll go to sleep, because you've got school in the morning."

"Oh, great. When do I pick out my cat and my wand?"

Nicole snorted and a ghost of a smile appeared on Jeanie's face. "Magic's not like that. There are no wands, no enchanted animals…at least, not anymore. To be honest, it's really not all that exciting."

"You can't be serious," I said. "It's only changing everything I ever knew about the way the world works."

Nicole put a hand on my shoulder, but said nothing.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" I asked.

"Gram forbade it," Jeanie said.

"Gram?" I knew my maternal grandmother as the voice on the other end of the annual phone calls on my birthday and Christmas. I'd never met the woman, as she lived up in Massachusetts…

Massachusetts. The Salem Witch Trials. The throbbing in my head returned as question piled onto question, and I didn't know which to ask first.

"She's our… Well, what she says, goes," Nicole said, a little helplessly.

"And why did she forbid you to tell me?" I asked, my annoyance growing.

"It doesn't matter why, you know now," Jeanie said.

I stared at her like she had two heads. "That's not an answer."

"Look, Lexie, today's been a bit of a shock," Nicole said. "It's a lot to process, so how about we just go home and have dinner."

"Just like that, huh? You have magic, and let's go home and have some mac and cheese? Business as usual?"

"It is just business as usual," Jeanie said. "I think you'll find magic's just…another part of you. It makes life a little easier, but you can't use it to make yourself richer or anything like that."

"Did you just accept you had magic? That suddenly you're Harry Potter?"

Jeanie nodded, but Nicole looked sharply at the ground, and a blush crept up on her face. "It's different for me. I don't have magic like everyone else."

"I… What?" I'd just found out that magic existed, I hadn't gotten around to thinking about all the variables. "What do you mean?"

"Nicole is a potion-maker," Jeanie said. "And she has magic, just not the traditional kind."

"Jeanie—"

"Nicole, you do."

"What are you two talking about?" I asked, glancing between them.

"I can't do the," Nicole waved her hands in the air, "spells and sorcery stuff. Just make potions."

"What about Marie?" I asked Jeanie.

Jeanie snorted. "She's a healer."

"A healer? What does that even mean?"

"She can do the," again, Nicole waved her hands in the air, "but her magic can also heal other magical users."

"So, like, if I had a scrape or something, she could heal it?" I asked.

Jeanie nodded. "She could, yes."

Her emphasis did not go unnoticed. "But she wouldn't. Because she's a bitch."

"Lexie," Nicole warned.

Jeanie smiled. "She's not very good at it."

I glanced down at the book in my arms. "So what am I?"

"There aren't really specialties other than healers and potion-makers," Jeanie said. "Just the usual spells and enchantments. Traveling, summoning, conjuring. But we can't do magic in front of the non-magicals, so you're really only allowed to do it at home, all right?"

I wasn't even sure what "doing magic" encompassed, so I nodded. But a new question had popped into my mind. I chose my words carefully, knowing I was about to step into a minefield. "Did Mom have magic?"

Jeanie nodded. "She was a great magical."

"So how could she have died giving birth to me?"

It was a mystery to me how, in this day and age, a woman in the United States could've died during childbirth, but apparently it happened more often than I thought. But throw magic into the mix, and it seemed even rarer. Not that I knew much about what magic could or couldn't do…

"Magic doesn't mean you don't get sick, that you don't…you don't die, Lexie," Nicole said gently. "Mom had complications and…there wasn't anything we could do."

"Even though Marie's a…whatever…healer?" I asked quietly.

Jeanie nodded. "Marie was only a baby herself. She couldn't have done anything…not really. And Mora was…she was too far gone. There's only so much healing magic can do."

"What about Dad?"

Jeanie's face darkened. "Wasn't magical. Didn't know about magic until Mora died. Then he decided he couldn't handle three magical girls and left."

I knew that last part. I'd never as much as received a birthday card from him. But I'd also never asked for one. Our father had always been a tense subject best avoided at all costs.

We fell into an uneasy silence and I looked at the book in my lap. It seemed odd to me that less than an hour ago, I'd thought I had a handle on the way the world worked. I knew history, I had a basic understanding of science and mathematics, and I had a passing mastery of the English language. And now, everything I knew was on its head.

I adjusted the book in my lap, which was when I realized neither Jeanie nor Nicole hadn't mentioned it yet. In fact, they both seemed to be looking everywhere except the book. Was there some kind of…something on this book making it invisible to them?

Jeanie cleared her throat. "Let's go home. We'll have some dinner, I'm sure you have homework to do."

I groaned. I still had half my chemistry questions to finish. Good luck, Lexie.

"And tomorrow morning, you wake up and have magic," Nicole said with a too-bright smile. "See? Nothing to freak out about."

I nodded and followed Jeanie and Nicole to Jeanie's car, parked on the side of the street. Nicole promised me we would have a special dinner tomorrow for my birthday, wherever I wanted to eat, and Jeanie attempted to ask me about current events, which she totally got wrong. Still, I appreciated them trying their best to return my life to some semblance of normalcy. But something told me my definition of normal was about to change drastically.

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