Fourteen-year-old Blue Jasper takes his younger siblings, twins Indigo and Violet, out for a hike to give their mother a break. One moment the twins are scampering in the trees right ahead of him, and the next moment they are gone. As Blue frantically searches for them, a strange woman appears in the forest claiming to be the Faerie Queen Olea of Nearwood and the twins’ real mother. Now because of a magical pact, Blue's mother's life will be in danger if he can't find the twins before the next sunset. Blue must find his way into the magical forest known as The Crosswood and through the dangerous Faerie lands beyond it. Will he be able to find the twins in time? And will they be able to find their way out again?This is the first book in the Faerie Woods series.
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Copyright © Gabrielle Prendergast 2021
Published in Canada and the United States in 2021 by Orca Book Publishers. orcabook.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: The crosswood / Gabrielle Prendergast. Names: Prendergast, Gabrielle, author. Series: Orca currents. Description: Series statement: Orca Currents Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20200270370 | Canadiana (ebook) 20200270397 | ISBN 9781459826625 (softcover) | ISBN 9781459826632 (PDF) | ISBN 9781459826649 (EPUB) Classification: LCCPS8631.R448 .C76 2021 | DDC jC813/.6—dc23
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020939209
Summary: In this high-interest accessible novel for middle-grade readers, 14-year-old Blue Jasper must enter the enchanted Crosswood when his twin siblings are kidnapped by a Faerie king.
Orca Book Publishers is committed to reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources in the making of our books. We make every effort to use materials that support a sustainable future.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Edited by Tanya Trafford Design by Ella Collier Cover photograph by Getty Images/Donald Iain Smith Author photo by Erika Forest
Printed and bound in Canada.
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For Dylan and Ethan
An Excerpt from “The Wherewood”
It’s quite comfortable here in the woodshed. With the door open it’s not dark. And I found a nice log to sit on. I lean back on the dusty wall and look at the ceiling. Okay, there are a couple of spiders up there. That’s not great. Outside, back at the house, I hear the screen door slam open.
“Blue! Blue? Where are you? I need help with the twins!”
The twins. My brother and sister. They are nearly ten. Their names are Indigo (a boy) and Violet (a girl). And they are, in my mother’s words, “holy terrors.” I don’t see how that’s my problem.
It is nearly dinnertime. I’ve spent most of the day chasing after the twins in the yard. I am over it. Over them and their antics. Indigo filled his pockets with beetles. I think he might have eaten one. Violet got sap in her hair and a pine needle in her eye. They both lost their socks. How do you lose socks in your own yard? I’ll tell you. Somehow you throw them up into the tallest tree. If I lean out the woodshed door, I can still see them up there. Indigo’s mismatched blue and white socks. Violet’s red socks, one with a hole in the toe. I have no idea how they got them up there. Neither does Mom, even though she watched us all day from where she was building a chair on the porch.
“Blue, get back here! Indigo is in the rafters again!”
Mom never lets the twins out of her sight. She even homeschools them! I take the bus to the school in town. But the twins get to stay here in our cabin at the edge of the woods. I’m pretty sure they just run around all day. I don’t think they learn much. But they don’t need to. They’re both weirdly smart. Unlike me. I’m weirdly average.
The twins are weirdly weird, actually. I know it’s normal for little kids to have active imaginations but…wow. Indigo and Violet take it to new levels. They claim they’re royalty. They tell me their real last name is Nash Panash Buckthorn Briar. It’s not. It’s Jasper, same as mine. They talk to fireflies. Only not in English. Not in any language I recognize. They speak it to each other too. Mom says that’s normal for twins. But nothing is normal about Indigo and Violet. They drive me crazy.
“BLUE! Get in here NOW!”
I’m fourteen. I’m starting high school at the end of this summer. Ninth grade. I’m going to have enough stress. I’ll have to take a new bus to a different town. I’ll have to get up earlier. I’ll probably have a ton more homework. I’m not going to have as much time to help with the twins. Mom is going to have to get used to that. I’ve tried to convince her to let Indigo and Violet go to school. But she won’t listen. If they went to school, at least she’d have some time to herself. As it is, the only time she gets is after the twins go to sleep. And they only do that after being read about a hundred fairy tales.
I help out around the house. I sweep every day and wash the dishes. I even chop wood for our woodstove. Yep, we have a woodstove. Our little cabin is like something from another time. Sure, we have a proper toilet and electric lights, but that’s about it. The woodstove is for cooking and heating. Our fridge runs off a solar battery. For entertainment we have books. No TV, no internet. To make a phone call Mom sends me up to the highway, where I can get a weak signal on her cell phone. A ten-minute walk. Five minutes if I run.
“Off-grid,” Mom calls it. Off-planet is more like it.
It’s just the four of us. Mom, the twins and me. No dad. My dad left when I was a baby. And the twins’ dad…well, I don’t even remember Mom being pregnant, so that shows how much I know.
I look up at the spiders again. They seem to judge me.
“I’m tired,” I tell them. “I just needed a break.”
The spiders are unimpressed. But so what? Spiders have hundreds of kids, and they usually get eaten by them. So they’re not really a model of childcare I want to be aiming for.
Suddenly Mom screeches from the house. “No! Violet! Get down. Stop!” There’s a huge crash. And another yell. Before I even think, I’m on my feet, out of the woodshed and running for the house.
Violet jumps when I burst through the back door. I mean, she really jumps. Somehow she ends up on top of the bookshelf. Indigo is above her, perched in the rafters like an owl. The dinner table is completely overturned. The dinner is on the floor. Dishes and mashed potatoes and lentil curry are everywhere. And in the middle of it sits Mom, clutching her ankle. Her face is twisted with pain.
“Mom! What happened?” I ask.
“Where were you? I told you I needed help with the twins!”
“Did they do this?” I’m suddenly so angry I want to break something. But it looks like there’s nothing left to break. I turn toward the rafters and shout, “Indigo! Did you do this?”
“Violet was trying to catch me,” he says quietly. He’s not crying or anything, but I can tell he’s upset. As bratty as they are, the twins love Mom.
I turn to Violet.
“Mom was trying to catch me,” she says.
“Neither of you should have needed to be caught!” I yell. “Why can’t you just settle down?”
“It’s all right, Blue,” Mom says.
“It’s not all right!” I shout. “They’re not chimps! They need to start acting like human beings!”
“But we’re not human beings,” Violet says sweetly.
“Enough!” I bellow, making her twitch. The bookshelf wobbles under her. “Enough of your fantasies! Look what you’ve done!”
I’m furious now. I know it’s partly because I’m worried about Mom. But I’m also really mad at the twins for always being so…wild. For taking up all of Mom’s time. All of her attention. For the first four years of my life, it was just me and her. We were doing great. I had started preschool. Mom was studying. She was going to go back to work. Then these two lunatics came along and ruined everything. Including tonight’s dinner.
Indigo swings under the rafters and seems to float down to the floor. Violet jumps from the bookshelf and lands as softly as a cat. They stand in front of me, holding hands.
“We’re sorry, Blue,” they say together.
I want to rant at them some more, but Mom whimpers as she tries to get up.
“Can you stand?” I ask.
“I don’t think so,” she says, holding her ankle again. “I think it’s just sprained though. Take the phone up to the road. Call Mrs. Chen. She can drive us to the clinic. We’ll get pizza in town.”
The twins start to cheer but stop when I glare at them.
“You two,” I say, grabbing Mom’s phone. “If you don’t clean up this mess by the time I’m back…”
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