How much magic does it take to levitate a spoon? Find out in this exclusive chapter excerpt of The Spirit Glass from best-selling author and Rick Riordan Presents alum, Roshani Chokshi, on sale 9/5!
Corazon Lopez possessed a rare and secret power, the kind that could make a river shrivel into a puddle or trap a tornado in a jar. She could climb the stars like a staircase and pull down clouds for her pillows. The only problem was that this secret power was apparently just so humongous and so hard to handle that it remained a secret . . . even from Corazon.
But not for much longer.
Corazon had the blood of a babaylan, a rare mortal who guarded the boundaries between the human world and the realm of spirits. Some babaylans whispered to the weather. Others brewed potions that could lure a soul back into a dying body. Some could even sift through dreams to find glimmers of the future. It all depended on each babaylan’s particular gift.
On a Saturday evening, Corazon stood in the kitchen and threw back her shoulders. She closed her eyes and reached for her magic. It always felt stubborn and sulky, like she was trying to pull it from a nice, warm bed and it didn’t want to move. She held her squirming, scruffy magic with all her strength before taking a deep breath and shouting, “Heed my power and heed it well, lift into the air as I compel!”
Corazon opened one eye. The spoon on the counter had not budged.
“Get thee to the dining table!” said Corazon, throwing up her hands. “Please?”
The spoon wriggled weakly. Ever so slowly, it hovered off the counter.
“It’s happening!” exclaimed a small, bell-like voice. “Your gift is waking up!”
Beside the somewhat-levitating spoon, Corazon’s companion anito poked his head over the rim of a teacup. The anito looked like a small, glowing blue lizard with bulging eyes, violet polka dots, and a long tail.
All babaylans have companion anitos. They are the spirits of mountains, rivers, streams, and trees. The more powerful the babaylan, the more powerful and impressive the companion anito. Corazon loved her small anito, but she was fairly certain that the most impressive thing about Saso was his imagination.
“Your gift is to preside over all… spoons? No, silverware! Yes!” Saso cackled, his speckled tail whipping out over the teacup. “Henceforth, all dining utensils shall answer to us! You shall wear a crown of butter knives, Corazon! Together, we will wage a war on blenders and—”
The spoon—which had lifted barely an inch off the tile and perhaps felt overwhelmed at the prospect of warfare—clattered back to the counter. With a final twitch, the spoon went still, and Corazon dropped her hands. Even that small exertion of magic had left her feeling dizzy.
“Well, definitely no gift for metal,” said Corazon.
“Oh,” said Saso, his tail flopping. “Well… blenders would have made for a weak adversary anyway.” He blinked up at her. “But if you like, we can still make the crown of butter knives?”
“That’s okay, Saso,” said Corazon, quietly folding up her disappointment. “We just have to be patient.”
“Excellent notion!” said Saso happily. “You be patient, and I will be obsessive!”
“How is that helpful?”
“I don’t know, but it’s certainly inevitable.”
“True,” Corazon said with a sigh.
All her life she had been told that she would be a great babaylan. She just had to wait. But she’d been waiting for years, and in two days she would be twelve! That’s when most babaylans started their official training . . . and Corazon still had no sign that her magic was anywhere near waking up.
“At least it’s Saturday,” said Saso.
Corazon grinned. Sometimes she felt that her week was one long held breath as she counted down the days until Saturday dinner. It was the best night of the week. But it was also the worst night, because it always came to an end.
Corazon held out her hand, and Saso hopped from the teacup to her palm. She looked around at the tidy white kitchen, with its ropes of garlic bulbs and bundles of drying herbs hanging from the ceiling.
“I’m going to need three plates,” Corazon told the kitchen. “Actually, four. Just in case.”
Corazon checked her father’s watch. The timepiece had a cracked midnight-blue face and two worn leather straps that were so big the watch would’ve fallen off her wrist if the House hadn’t fixed it. The time was seven minutes past seven in the evening. Which meant Corazon had exactly twenty-three minutes to finish setting the table.
“Corazon, may I pick the movie tonight?” asked Saso.
A month ago, Saso had picked the 1933 King Kong film and spent the rest of the week after crashing into pottery, swinging from the lamp fixtures, and shouting “I AM HUNGRY! AND I CRAVE ARCHITECTURE!!!”
Her aunt, Celestina—Tina, for short—had threatened to sell him to a pet store.
“Maybe next time,” Corazon said to Saso, gathering the blue plates that had magically appeared on the counter. “It’s almost my birthday, and that’s usually story night, remember?”
“Oh, that will be most excellent!” said Saso, swishing his blue tail. “Will the tale have lots of blood?”
“Probably not,” said Corazon as she reached for a pitcher of water.
“No cries of mortal anguish?”
“I hate it already.”
Corazon rolled her eyes. Saso, which was short for Samson, had been her companion anito for years. As far as he knew, he’d been asleep for a long time before he awoke curled up in the bassinet of a newborn Corazon.
It had been the same way for Corazon’s mother, Althea. Her companion anito was a shimmering blue python, nearly twenty feet long in his full form. He was named Caching—improbably shortened from the name Escolastica—and was the spirit of a massive toog, a rosewood tree. By day, Caching transformed himself into an elaborate bracelet while Althea worked as a nurse on the hospital’s cardiology floor. By night, he took on his true shape and assisted Althea in her healing magic.
“I think my camouflage is changing again!” said Saso. He sighed happily as he examined his reflection on the side of a pan. “I really am an incredibly rare and exquisite baby crocodile.”
Corazon had never heard of a crocodile that could camouflage. And with his bulging eyes, stubby snout, and spotted tail, Saso looked a lot more like a small blue gecko.
But Saso didn’t need to know that.
“You do look more . . . bluish,” said Corazon.
Saso preened. “Good, good. It’s very important to stay camouflaged. Otherwise, people would be so intimidated by me! And, by extension, you! Only a babaylan of extraordinary skill would have a crocodile anito.” Saso blinked up at her affectionately. “And you, Corazon, are definitely extraordinary! Soon you’ll be just like your mom! Or Tina!”
Corazon was beginning to doubt that she’d ever be extraordinary, much less as good as her mom or aunt.
By the time Althea was ten years old, she could brew and bottle a year’s worth of beauty tonic. Whenever Corazon tried to brew anything, the potion turned into useless sludge. And if Corazon so much as poked a bottle, it would explode. Althea was considered powerful, but her sister, Tina, was something else entirely.
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