Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret (19 page)

E
very book is a journey, and this one was long and winding. Thanks are due to some special people without whom Archie and I could not have made it.

To Dan, Erin and Harry (the Cat Suit Club) who were the first to read about Archie’s adventures and encouraged me to carry on. To my sister, Pig, who lived and breathed it with me; and to Bryan for being Bryan.

To my agent Jo Hayes, who along with Paul Moreton and Eddie Bell at Bell Lomax Morton, thought there might be something there.

To Leah Thaxton, Rebecca Lee and everyone at Faber who believed in Archie’s magic and took a chance.

To my editors Alice Swan at Faber and Antonia Markiet at HarperCollins, who brought discipline, Chelsea buns and so much more, to
transform a rough manuscript into something readable.

To Emma Eldridge for the inspired cover design; and to James de la Rue for his brilliant illustrations. To project editor James Rose for his patience and good humour with the last minute edits.

To Stuart and Ro for their friendship and indulgence when I should have been writing other things.

Finally, to Sara for her belief and love.

 

 

A
t the top of a steep hill in the Cotswolds, the Foxe family car, a battered purple Morris Traveller, pulled off the road onto the verge. They had just driven through the villages of Sludge-on-the-Wold and Chuffing Bumpton.

Loretta Foxe wound down the window. ‘We’re here!’ she exclaimed, pointing at a mud-spattered road sign with a purple fingernail. ‘The Hey-on-What Magical Book Fayre is the greatest magical book fair in the country!’

Thistle looked at Archie and raised his eyebrows. Archie grinned. Loretta had talked about nothing else for weeks.

‘Um, actually Mum, I think you’ll find it’s the
only
magical book fair in the country,’ corrected Bramble.

Archie gazed at the scene before him. He could see an enormous marquee that looked like a circus big top. Surrounding it were three other marquees of differing sizes, and dozens of smaller temporary buildings, mostly tents, with their brightly coloured canvases flapping in the chilly autumnal breeze.

Soon, the children were having a wonderful
time. The magical book fair was full of fascinating sights and smells. As well as lots of books for sale, there were all manner of other magical stalls and attractions, including fire-eaters and several fortune-tellers.

Archie spotted a sign above one stall that said: ‘The Siren Sisters. We Scry Harder!’

He pointed it out to Bramble.

‘The Siren Sisters, I’ve heard of them,’ she said. ‘There are two of them. They work together as a team. Apparently, one is a fortune smeller and the other is a fortune yeller.’

‘Ha ha!’ laughed Archie. ‘Very funny!’

‘No, I’m serious,’ said Bramble. ‘One of them is blind but can tell your fortune by your scent and the other one shouts out what’s going to happen.’

Archie gave his cousin a sideways look. ‘Half the time I can’t tell whether you are making this stuff up,’ he said.

‘No, it’s all true,’ said Bramble with a grin.

‘Well I still have some money left,’ Thistle declared. ‘I’m going to give the Siren Sisters a go. Come on.’

He darted past the ‘We Scry Harder’ sign and into the interior of the tent. Archie and Bramble followed behind.

‘I’m not sure about this,’ Bramble muttered to Archie as they ducked under the canvas awning.

‘Fortune tellers are a funny old lot.’

At that moment, two very odd looking women appeared from behind a curtain at the back of the tent. They were of indeterminate age somewhere between thirty and sixty – it was hard to be any more precise. Both were tall. One had flaming red hair that spilled like volcanic lava down her back and jade-green eyes. She wore a long green cloak, with knee-length brown boots. Around her neck was an amulet with a picture of a large black bird on it. Her eyes were as green as jade. The other woman had glossy, black hair in an aggressive pixie cut. Her black leather jacket almost reached her ankles. Around her wrist she wore a bracelet with a wolf on it. Despite their differences there was a resemblance that suggested they might be related.

The two women loomed over the three children.

‘We have visitors,’ said the redhead her eyes flashing.

‘Who is it, sister?’ The other woman was staring straight ahead blankly.

‘It is three children, Hemlock. A brother and a sister and their cousin. I believe they want their futures told.’

Hemlock smiled. ‘Very well.’

‘We’ve got money,’ blurted Thistle, recovering from the shock of meeting these two odd sisters.

‘That won’t be necessary,’ smiled the redhead. ‘I am Delphinium. A pleasure to meet you. Thistle Foxe – you should be wary of your curiosity. It will lead you into trouble.’

Hemlock sniffed deeply. ‘And you, Bramble, must remember that you are stronger when you stand with someone than when you stand apart.’

Her nose twitched a second time and she turned her head towards Archie. She pulled a face as if she had caught a whiff of something unpleasant.

At that same moment, Delphinium’s head sagged forward as if she was in a swoon.

‘What is this? Who are you?’ Hemlock cried, turning towards Archie.

‘I’m Archie,’ he replied, falteringly. ‘Archie Greene.’

‘I cannot read you.’

At that moment, Delphinium’s head suddenly jerked back and she began to yell, ‘BEWARE THE RAVEN’S WARNINGS! The boy has Forks on him! Archie Greene has Forks on him!’

D. D. Everest is a successful business journalist and author who has written a number of adult non-fiction books.
Archie Greene and the Magician’s
Secret
is his first book for children. Des lives with his family in a rambling Victorian house on the Ashdown Forest. He is currently working on a sequel called
Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse
.

First published in 2014
by Faber & Faber Ltd
Bloomsbury House
74–77 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DA
This ebook edition first published in 2014

All rights reserved
Text © D. D. Everest, 2014
Illustrations © James de la Rue, 2014

Cover illustration by James de la Rue

The right of D. D. Everest to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly

ISBN 978–0–571–30740–1

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