The Trouble with Toads
Once upon a time a young girl wanted revenge. But first, she wanted to be beautiful.
Twelve-year-old Bettony has read enough stories that begin with ‘Once upon a time’ to know what happens to the ugly stepsisters at the end, and she’s determined to escape that fate by any means necessary—even by magic.
Unfortunately, when it comes to magic, there is no place for regret, refunds, or exchanges. Even if you accidentally turn your older sister into a toad.
If Bettony wants her Happily Ever After to end well, she’s going to have to find a way to turn her sister back into a person before their mother finds out she’s been dabbling with magic and grounds her for life.
Tracking down the family magic turns out to be surprisingly easy. Now, if only it came with directions . . .
THE TROUBLE WITH TOADS (45,000 words) is the first book in a new upper MG series The Secret Stepsister Society. The second book will be released Summer 2013.
Her grandmother shrugged, the lines of sympathy gone from her face. She picked up the first bottle and added a pinch of the dust to the bowl. “Suit yourself, missy. But remember that is a choice you made for yourself this very day. I’ll not countenance you running back to me with complaints. You want beauty, and you shall have it—and all that comes with it. Are we clear?”
Fear and wonder and enchantment had stolen her voice away, so Bettony nodded. Anticipation rumbled in her center, a bright flame that made her feel heavy and light all at the same time.
“And if this spell gets you into mischief, you can’t come running to me to fix it. You make the mess, you clean up after yourself. Are we clear?” Her grandmother pulled out the lead stopper on the second bottle. Her hand quivered with age, but she was very careful only to allow a single drop to gloop down into the bowl.
Bettony nodded again, almost giddy. Magic wasn’t going to cause her problems. It was going to solve them. Once she was beautiful, she’d be able to do whatever she wanted.
Her grandmother hesitated before she picked up the final bottle. “No refunds, exchanges, or regrets. What magic does is done. Do you understand?”
Bettony gave a decisive nod. Of course she understood. She wasn’t a child.
Her grandmother snorted as though she’d heard Bettony’s thought. “I don’t think you do, but that’s good enough for the binding. You don’t have to actually understand, you just have to believe you do. Now, add that frog of yours, and we’re nearly finished.”
Author Danyelle Leafty
Danyelle Leafty writes upper MG and YA fantasy, and is the author of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA series. Danyelle has always loved fairy tales, and prefers stories where someone gets eaten, or at the very least, transmogrified. Much of her inspiration has come from fairy tales, because as G.K. Chesterton so aptly states, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She also collects books, and one day hopes to make a house out of them. She enjoys learning languages, fiddling with her harp, and perfecting the fine art of mothering. (It’s a lot like trying to herd chickens during a lightning storm while a goat stampede is going on.)
One of her heroes is Albert Einstein, particularly for the following quote: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning.”
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