- Virginia Johnson
Harry Potter isnt the only one attending a private school where strange happenings are the norm.
Under the Cat's Eye: A Tale of Morph and Mystery by Gillian Rubinstein
From the moment their steam car chugged through the open iron gates, Jai Kala had a bad feeling about Nexhoath Boarding School, and it went way beyond his misery at being left there while his parents were forcibly deported to India. He added large numbers in his head, something he did to take his mind off his nerves, while his parents put the best face on it all they could.
A boy and a girl appeared out of the mist onto the driveway. They both wore bright red, and the girl slipped and fell directly in front of the car. No harm done, but the girl with the bright hazel eyes and reddish-brown hair seemed to have dropped something when she fell. They were off in a flash, so Jai took it to give it to them later.
It was an oval ring or bangle, smooth, white, and hard like bone. On one side half an animal's face had been carved, and where the other half should have been was a blank impression, the size of a thumbprint.
Jai pulled on the great lion door bell. A man's face was old and young at the same time opened let them in. His clothes were old and stiff, like a fancy uniform. When Mr. Drake, for that was the headmasters name, shook hands with Jai he gripped him as though he would never let him go. After saying good-bye to his parents, Jai followed Mr. Drake through the old house, both grand and decaying, polished with beeswax, but dusty all the same, from the great staircase to the crystal chandeliers.
Miss Kitty, a small, round woman with bright yellowish eyes, showed him to the dormitory. It was plain and smelled like boiled cabbage. No one else was about. He wondered if the boy and girl he had seen would be staying here.
"I met some children earlier..." he said, bringing out the bangle. Kitty's reaction surprised him. "Put it away. Don't show anyone. No one must know that it's here."
Her eyes glowed with delight, and she led him away from the common room, through a hidden entrance, to the top of the grand staircase. Everything here smelled clean, with a hint of jasmine flowers. The bed and the furnishings in this room were luxurious.
"Roughly and I will be here to keep an eye on you."
There was something creepy about Kitty and the strange way she stared at him.
"I'm so, so happy you're here," she said, then looked round sharply. "But I musn't say anymore." She closed the doors soundlessly behind her.
The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
Tilja's Ma was gone in the morning, gone to sing to the cedars at the first snow. They, and whatever waited in the forest, expected her to come to them, full of song, listening to the trees even as she sang to them.
It had gone on decade after decade. Among the women of each generation who lived at Woodbourne, there would be one who could listen to the trees talk and who would, in turn, sing back to them songs of joy and healing.
In this way, the spell was maintained.
Long ago, the Valley was the ripe plunder for whatever band of rogues or regiment of king's soldiers found it for the taking. Between wars and taxes, the Valley's people bled out their lives for other people's problems and desires. If only there were a way that the Valley could be protected from the outside world!
A tale was told of a powerful enchantress who could work such feats. Legend had it a brave young pair of adventurers found her at the end of her life and struck a bargain with her.
For nineteen generations, the easy pass through the mountains has been blocked with snow and the other route through the forest causes men to sicken and die should they try to cross it.
This is the same forest that Tilja's mother guards, but she has been gone for almost a day in the bitter cold. Her pony's come back, missing its gear, and her Da's foray into the woods to find his wife has left him shuddering with the forest sickness.
Tilja will not be the next forest singer. She knows that. She doesn't have the power. It's her little sister Anja who hears the trees speak, and it's Anja who will inherit beautiful old Woodbourne. Tilja knows, though it makes her heartsick, that she will have to leave her home soon enough.
But for today, as the eldest, it's she who must saddle Old Calico, ride to her grandmother's, and try to find out what terrible thing has happened to the enchanted wood and how to make it whole again.