Signs, spells, sigils… Will they be enough?
Something is wrong at Sibley High School, and junior Eunice “Niecy” Banks is sure it has everything to do with the irresistible new girl, Laila Collins. Apparently, she's hell-bent on destroying any romance she comes near. But Laila is motivated by something far darker than a desire for other girls’ boyfriends. As the boys she’s been involved with are drained of their life force bit by bit, Niecy must unlock the magical secrets of her grandmother’s journals, and navigate her own newfound abilities. The only way to rescue them? By saving Laila herself.
14 + due to sexuality and adult situations
How had her life gotten so bizarre? Just a few months ago she’d been a normal teenage girl with a boyfriend, two parents, friends, decent grades. Now here she was, holed up in her room with some secret deathbed oath diary of her enigmatic grandma’s while she digested her way through Jason’s worshipful obsession, malignant smog, and a teenage temptress with a nefarious plot. Summer break was a few short weeks away. Niecy couldn’t decide if she was terrified of what might happen, or looking forward to these events unfolding without the demands of school and homework.
Locking her bedroom door wasn’t something she did often, but she felt compelled to ensure privacy before cracking open Grandma’s book, especially following the conversation with her dad. As she settled in at her desk, she realized she wasn’t ready to dive in just yet. She picked up her phone to check her messages and put on some music, intent on getting at least her English Lit work done.
Ava and Eunice—what a mystery those two were. And what did her dad mean when he said he’d always thought grandma was trying to protect Ava from something? She wondered if his instinct was right. Clearly her mom didn’t have the whole story any more than she did.
Niecy shook off the thoughts. She opened up her notebook and the worn copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God. The character of Janie, so passionate, so unlucky in love, resonated with her especially now. She’d seen the movie already, but the novel was far better. Their weekly assignment for this class consisted of questions which encouraged the students to place themselves within each character in an effort to understand their motivations and frailties. Something so natural to her it was usually the easiest of her studies. Today, however, she had another, more intriguing work right in front of her. Why did she feel so nervous about cracking it open? Probably the speech her dad had given, making it seem so meaningful.
Oh, screw it, she’d do homework after dinner. She reached across her desk for the journal, enjoying the smell of old leather as she unfastened the cord tying it shut. The book opened naturally in the center of the spine, but it felt sacrilegious to start there. As she paged back toward the beginning, a small scrap of paper fell out. Shockingly, it was addressed to her.
Dearest Eunice (our Niecy),
I hope this book has found its way into your hands when you will benefit from it. There are certain things I cannot explain to you about the contents of this, or any of my other writings. Both of us must trust your inner knowing to guide you; you will understand or you won’t, for that is the way it has always been and must be. Please believe me when I tell you I am not choosing to be deliberately opaque, merely following the order of things. All I can offer is what you have in your hands. Start here, Granddaughter, and trust yourself to know what you know.
All my love,
(The first) Eunice
Oh, this was rich. “Trust yourself to know what you know?” She didn’t know anything, that was the problem! Why did she suddenly feel like everyone around her was the caterpillar in Wonderland, speaking in riddles on riddles with a side of vague? Niecy considered whether her family might be a little crazy. Like, clinically.
The first two pages were blank, followed by a third, legibly titled Clear Sight. It went on to list a handful of ingredients, which, other than a piece of quartz, were mostly common household items: sea salt, purified water, a mirror. Then there were a couple paragraphs of instructions, including some kind of quote or prayer. The book was laid out in this exact pattern throughout—ingredients, instructions, and what was the word for it? Incantations? It was nothing at all like any of the other journals. She’d have to be a complete dope not to figure it out. She was holding a book of spells.