Friday, May 20, 2011

The Mirror of Yu-Huang book excerpt


About the Book:
Confucius never said anything about this.
Megan Montgomery, spending her second Christmas in England, was expecting peace and quiet over the holidays. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.
First, the headmistress of St. Agatha’s College for Girls, Megan’s school, her school has strong-armed her father into hosting a huge New Year’s ball at their home. Next, she winds up playing hostess to a Chinese ambassador, his family, and his staff.  While the guests seem very pleasant, Megan is still uncomfortable. She’s been unlucky with houseguests in the past—like one of the guests died kind of unlucky. Of course, he also tried to steal one of the precious magical artifacts that are hidden in the Library of Athena, a cavernous room hidden beneath her home, so it wasn’t totally her fault.  Now hundreds of people will be crawling all over the manor.
Megan tries to relax and enjoy the holidays despite her home being turned into Grand Central, but her worst fears are realized when Megan receives a mysterious Christmas gift, one that links her to the Library of Athena. Now she’s on her guard, hoping to identify the culprit and learn just how much he or she knows about the Library, before someone gets hurt, or worse, she winds up inside another enchanted book.

Book Excerpt from Christine Norris’ YA fantasy novel, The Mirror of Yu-Huang

They headed toward the opposite side of the room.Megan spotted quite a few of her classmates, who waved or said hello as the three girls breezed by. Some of the older girls had brought dates—boys from St. Bart’s, the brother school of St. Agatha’s. A few looked uncomfortable in their tuxes, moving their arms from one position to the next as if unsure what to do with them, while others looked like attending a formal ball was a daily occurrence in their world.

Portia Kenilworthy cornered her near the entrance to the parlor.
“Hello, Megan.” Her greeting had the polite-yet-arrogant tone she used when she was reminding people she was better than they were. 

“Have you, by chance, seen Mei-Li Wen?”

Megan was completely shocked the girl was even speaking to her. She supposed Portia had gotten over her missed Italian holiday.

But I won’t bank on being invited to her house for tea anytime soon.
Portia’s date was a handsome boy with short blond hair and a very white smile. Seeing him and the other boys made Megan wish again she had invited Diedrich.Portia probably would have bristled with envy over Megan’s having a gorgeous date who was the son of important people. After all, the rest of the world thought Josef Hemmlich disappeared in Egypt on an expedition. No one suspected he had been sucked through the floor of a temple that didn’t exist.
What a shrew I’m becoming. I can’t let them get to me.
She tried to keep the venom from her voice when she replied.

“I think Professor Spencer is going to do some sort of formal introduction.”
“Well, I hope it’s soon.” Portia sipped from the glass her date handed her. “I’m just so anxious to meet her. I want her to join the Garden Club.”
Megan was confident Mei-Li wouldn’t want to be part of the snooty club, where no real gardening was ever performed, as far as she knew. The club was just a reason to get together and gossip. She wanted to say as much to Portia’s face but decided to be more tactful.
“You can ask her, but I really don’t think—”

“Of course, she’ll want to hang out with the most popular girls in school.” Portia’s expression was her best beauty-queen-on-parade look, a combination of boredom and constipation. “I’m sure we’ll be best friends just like that.”
Harriet, perhaps noticing the incredulous look on Megan’s face, put on her own bored expression.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll get along famously. She’s a lovely girl.”
Portia looked down her nose at Harriet.
“You’ve already met her?”

“Of course I have. Megan is one of my best friends, after all, and Mei-Li has been here almost a whole week. We’ve all become such good chums already, haven’t we, Megan?”

Harriet and Portia stared each other down, diamond-studded Tiffany daggers in their eyes, their smiles colder than the snow outside. If there was something Megan was thankful for at that moment, it was Harriet’s talent for outsnobbing a snob.

Rachel stepped between the girls and broke the tension, which threatened to rip the room apart.

“Excuse us, please, will you?” She slipped an arm through Harriet’s and started to pull her away. “We’re looking for Claire McIlhenny.”

“Oh. Her,” said Julie Winterbottom, who, as usual, was attached to Portia like a pilot fish. “I saw her earlier. Clumsy thing ran right into me.” Julie pointed back toward the entrance hall, a superior smirk on her face. “She ran off that way.”
Megan, watching the color rise in Rachel’s cheeks, grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her away.

“Thanks.”

They went back to the music room. Claire wasn’t there, but they did see Rachel’s parents. Mrs. Cuthbert wore a sleek dress of dove gray, her dark hair tied up in a replica of her daughter’s.Harriet and Megan gave a polite greeting.
“Oh, don’t you girls look lovely,” Mrs. Cuthbert gushed. She didn’t really look like Rachel, except that theyhad the same smile. She held out her hand for Megan to shake, her wrist decorated with a simple but elegant diamond tennis bracelet.
Mr. Cuthbert was more than six feet tall, and very animated. He raised his glass and toasted Megan.
“Brilliant party, this. Brilliant! You and your father have done a bang-up job.”

“Uh…thanks, but really, I didn’t have much to do with it. Mostly Professor Spencer did all the work.”

Mr. Cuthbert’s opinion didn’t seem to be affected by the information.
“I’ve always loved this house. Used to ride by when I was a boy and imagine what it looked like inside. I guess you’ve heard the stories about a ghost haunting it?”

Megan smiled politely and played with her earring.

“Yes, I heard something like that. No ghosts here, though, I promise.”
The trio excused themselves and returned to the entrance hall. They did not see Claire, and Megan wondered if something had happened to her.
“Maybe she went home?”

She had a bad feeling about what had happened with Julie. She scanned the crowd, keeping an eye out for the ambassador’s staff, but they were as elusive as Claire. Where were they? She wanted to search but couldn’t abandon Claire. She glanced up at the statue of Athena. There was no one near it, which made her relax a little.
“She has to be here somewhere,” Rachel said. “We’ll find her if it takes all bloody night.”

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