Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster (Emblem Island Series, Book 1)
English | 2020 | Children/Young Adult | ePUB | 2.7 MB
A fast-paced series starter perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and filled with adventure, mythology, and an unforgettable trio of friends.
On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.
Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.
The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin…the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.
With only his village’s terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.
The tune went on, then seamlessly transitioned into a simple song only performed once every twelve months, on New Year’s Eve. The island’s most important holiday.
Each new year was a new opportunity to make a wish—and the Emblemites wrote theirs on leaves. On the night of December 31, each desire was thrown into a glorious bonfire.
A wish was a sacred thing. It had to be born from the heart of true desire. And there were rules. No vengeance or violence allowed. And there were risks. Crafting bad wishes could end in the wisher being cursed.
And, as with all things, there was luck. Of the many wishes submitted, only a few of the island’s inhabitants would find theirs granted in the new year, along with a gold star on their skin, to remind them of the gift they were given.
Tor had written his own wish months before and had carried the worn leaf in his pocket ever since…waiting. Hearing the Eve song finally playing, he smiled and danced his fingers across it.
Today’s the day, today’s the day, today’s the day, he chanted in his head until the words bled together.
“Happy day,” his mother said from behind him. Tor jumped, quickly pulling his hand from his pocket.
He nodded in response, then walked toward the kitchen, mumbling about finding their tin of canela tea. Just then, his father walked in, holding a tray with four clay mugs of the traditional Eve drink. Of course he’d already made it. His talent was cooking, and he had the knife symbol on his index finger to prove it.
“Happy Eve,” his father said, planting a kiss on top of Tor’s head.
Tor smiled, but only one side of his mouth pulled up. His father eyed him for a few moments too long. Could he tell that Tor was sweating? Was his wish sticking out of his pocket?
Then, his father smiled back. At the same moment, Rosa crashed through the front door, black braids swinging behind her. She was humming a tune as sweet as emerald pudding, soft as the gentle ping of wind chimes. Tor’s parents looked at each other in a loving way that made him half nauseated and half happy.
“School,” he mumbled, grabbing his lunch pack and heading out of the kitchen.
His mother’s head turned with hawk-like speed. “This early?”
Why couldn’t his mother be bad at her job, just this once? Care just a little less? He wouldn’t mind having an absentee mom; his friend Engle turned out just fine without having his parents around all the time. Tor swallowed and tried not to look at his feet. That would certainly give him away. “Leadership board meets before class starts.”