Whit and Wisty Allgood have sacrificed everything to lead the resistance against the merciless totalitarian regime that governs their world. Its supreme leader, The One Who Is The One, has banned everything they hold dear: books, music, art, and imagination. But the growing strength of the siblings' magic hasn't been enough to stop the One's evil rampage, and now he's executed the only family they had left.
Wisty knows that the time has finally come for her to face The One. But her fight and her fire only channel more power to this already invincible being. How can she and Whit possibly prepare for their imminent showdown with the ruthless villain that devastated their world-before he can truly become all-powerful?
In this stunning third installment of the epic Witch & Wizard series, the stakes have never been higher—and the consequences will change everything.
Book One | Blood Holiday
I AWAKE DISORIENTED in cold, damp darkness, my body aching, my sister nowhere in sight. There are shadowy figures all around me, but I can't make them out. Something jabs me in the ribs and I flip onto my feet, muscles tensed, ready to tear it to shreds. In the millisecond before I move to strike, there's a hyena-like laugh, high and mocking.
"Ooooh," a familiar young voice teases, "someone is a leetle bit jumpy this morning. Come on, wiz boy, let's get going." I make out Pearl Marie's mop of ratty hair in the darkness, and yesterday comes flooding back to me. I must've passed out on a pile of rags.
"Go? Go where? It's still dark out!" I groan. What with being a fugitive on the run from the most powerful being in the universe, rewatching our parents' execution, and carrying my dying sister on my back through a maze of plague victims and trained wolves, I've been put through the wringer, physically and emotionally. I could sleep until next Holiday season.
"It's half past quit-your-whining o'clock." Pearl Marie is already crouched down, digging through the rags. "You're fit to work, ain't ya?" The tiny drill sergeant starts lobbing bedding at my head.
"Well, yeah, but—"
A moth-eaten sweater soars through the air. "Gotta"—warped sun hat to the gut—"pull your weight, like everybody else. Find a disguise." I duck as a shredded blanket makes a beeline for my nose. Pearl stands up, hands on her hips. "Everyone knows your stupid face."
"What about Wisty?" I protest. "I can't just leave her—"
"No prob." Pearl shrugs. "Mama May told me to stick close to the house and look after her." I soften a bit at the mention of Mama May, remembering how much the Needermans are risking by taking us in, how dearly they'll pay should they be found out. I owe them this.
I reluctantly start climbing into the crusty clothing. After a minute, I peek out from under my disguise of toga-like moldy blanket topped with a half-unraveled scarf as a face mask topped with a large sun hat. "Does it still look like me?"
"Big muscles? Small brain? yep, I can definitely still tell it's you under there." Pearl frowns.
I sigh in frustration. It used to be so easy before. I could just morph a bit, take the form of an old man, a bird, almost anything I'd need to be....
Wait a minute. Something is different. Pearl's looking at me in wonder, and I feel things shifting: the shape of my nose, the length of my hair...and are those dimples I feel? Pearl holds up a piece of Holiday glass so I can see my reflection.
I'm stunned. After days of feeling my power slipping away from me, I can't believe it freaking worked! Who's got the mojo? Wizard's got the mojo!
Meanwhile, Pearl's doubled over with laughter.
"Brandon Michael Hatfield?" she snorts. "Are you serious?"
"What?" I reply, incredulous. "You know him?"
"Brandon. Michael. Hatfield!" Pearl's voice goes up a full octave. "Of course I know him!" she shrieks. "He was the biggest dreamboat in the former Freeland! I just didn't realize you had the mind of a preteen girl!"
Celebrities have mostly been wiped out in the N.O. regime for representing idols other than The One, so what's the harm in making use of likenesses of long-gone pop stars? Besides, I've been the poster boy for public scorn long enough. Maybe I wouldn't mind having a face everyone likes for a change. So sue me.
"My girlfriend used to be into his music," I say, shrugging, pretending that the mention of Celia doesn't still hurt somewhere deep inside. Pearl nods skeptically. "Hey, it's actually pretty tough to just come up with a new identity out of thin air! Sometimes you have to, you know, borrow one. Brendan What's-His-Face seemed like as good an option as anyone else."
"Brandon Michael Hatfield," she corrects, as if I've committed sacrilege.
"Got it." I roll my eyes. "Anyway, it works, doesn't it?"
Pearl nods, still giggling, then hustles me toward the door. "You better get goin'."
"But my sister..." I glimpse Wisty's frail body across the room, her red hair matted with fever. If anything, she looks worse today.
"I'll tend to her for you. I'll talk to her and dab at her forehead. Trust me. I'll look after her." Pearl pats my hand and peers up at me with her big silver eyes, all scout's honor. I start to smile gratefully, but then Pearl finishes, "At least until she dies."
Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson
Read by Elijah Wood and Spencer Locke