Title: Mystical High (The Desert Series, # 1)
Author: Lisette Brodey
Published: October 7th, 2013
Publisher: Saberlee Books
Word Count: approx. 72,500
Genre: YA Paranormal
Content Warning: Mild sexual content and non-gratuitous profanity
Recommended Age: 14+
In Mystekal, a small, dying town in the Southern California desert, only 75 students attend the old, sometimes creepy high school dubbed “Mystical High,” where strange things have been known to happen. Jessie Dalworth and Jinxsy Patterson are juniors and lifelong best friends. At home, Jessie deals with the pain of an absentee mother who has abandoned the family for the lure of Hollywood; Jinxsy contends with a 17th “birthday present” she never wanted or expected.
Meanwhile, at school, the unexplained activity begins to escalate when Jinxsy keeps seeing a long-haired guy in the hallway checking her out. Jessie can’t see him, but her younger brother, River, can.
Then, in English class, a stapler mysteriously flies off teacher Eve Carrow’s desk, hitting a student in the face who has just mouthed off to her. The beloved teacher is in the unenviable position of having her brute of a father as principal, so she hates sending any student to his office. As Principal Ernest Carrow begins to terrorize Eve and others more openly, something or someone unseen decides that it’s payback time.
School is getting stranger, and Jinxsy and Jessie are faced with mind-boggling changes in their home lives that complicate everything. When a string of shocking events expose explosive secrets, decades-long mysteries are finally revealed.
Eve Carrow, Mystekal High’s English teacher, glanced at the giant wall clock as Jessie and Jinxsy slipped into their seats seconds before the bell.
“Welcome, you two. I wasn’t sure you were going to join us today. I like to be fashionably late at parties sometimes, but school is a different story.”
The old bell sounded loudly.
Jessie opened her notebook, grabbed To Kill A Mockingbird, the current class book, from her backpack, and sat upright in her chair. “See? We’re on time. Ready to go.”
“Yes, you are.”
Jinxsy, still fumbling through her backpack, looked at her friend, then at her teacher. “Jess had a mishap with her locker. Cut her finger.”
From the back of the room, Taylor cackled. “Yeah, it took her ten minutes for Her Vampiress to suck a few drops of blood and ten more minutes for the Jinx to calm her down.”
Jessie turned abruptly in her chair. “You are so exaggerating, Taylor. Keep out of my business.”
“Your boring business.” Taylor ran her fingers through her blond and purple hair. “No wonder you don’t have a boyfriend when the biggest part of your day is a little boo boo on your finger. Waaaaaaaah!”
Eve, though usually of the sweetest demeanor, slammed a book down on her desk. “Taylor Dennison. Stop. Now. Everyone else, face front.” As she looked around the room, her angry look softened. “Okay, who wants to begin our discussion about Boo Radley?”
Sophia Chavez raised her hand. “I will.”
“Thank you, Sophia. Please go on.”
“Well, I know the kids made up a lot of stories about him, but it’s only natural, you know? I mean, he never came out of the house. There were creepy rumors, like how he stabbed his dad in the leg with scissors. If I heard that about someone, I would be thinking the same way that Scout, Jem, and Dill did.”
Eve nodded her head in agreement. “It’s very easy to assume all kinds of things when we don’t know the truth.”
“So why is that, Ms. Carrow?”
“Well, Sophia, I think it’s because as human beings, we like answers. If an answer can be looked up or found out, most of us will choose that route. But when the answer to a question isn’t readily available, we tend to make things up, to satisfy our inquiring brains. It’s not a good thing to do, but human beings engage in this practice quite liberally. What do you think of my assessment?”
Jessie, with little animation on her face, responded to her teacher’s question. “I think you’re right.”
Taylor yelled from the back of the room. “Why? Because people talk crap about your hermit crab aunt?”
Jessie turned and glared at Taylor. She bit her lip so hard it almost bled. She knew that if she responded, the words would be ugly ones she wouldn’t want to be heard saying.
Eve was furious. “Taylor, that was positively uncalled for. And just plain cruel. I’m being extraordinarily generous by not sending you to the principal’s office. But one more outburst and I won’t hesitate.”
Silence fell over the room. The principal of Mystekal High was Eve’s father, Ernest Carrow. He had been the principal since Eve herself was a student. The only person who seemed to tolerate him at all was his secretary, and he seemed to like children as much as picnic goers like ants.
Carrow was the wealthiest man in Mystekal and owned a large percentage of the real estate, both commercial and residential. He didn’t need the salary he earned as Mystekal High’s principal, but he liked to control people, and being in charge of everyone at the school helped him to do just that.
Even though she couldn’t stand sending students to her father’s office, Eve hated making empty threats even more. She despised him, and sending a student for discipline meant that she had to deal with her father as well. She would have to endure a lecture about how she wasn’t able to control her class or how she had failed to mete out proper discipline. Eve pretended not to hear Taylor’s last remark and prayed she would not step over the line again. At least for the remainder of class.
“Would you all please take out your class assignment for this week? We’re going to share.”
Cade Swift raised his hand.
“Do you mean the paper you asked us to write on who we thought Boo Radley really was? The one where you wanted us to write a description of how we saw his life inside that house?”
“The one and only.”
Cade bit his lip. “Uh, would you mind calling on me last?”
“Since when are you shy?”
“I’m not. But after what you said to Sophia I’m thinking maybe I need to rewrite my paper.”
Taylor’s boyfriend, Santino Vega, laughed. “Dude, don’t you mean write it. Period.”
Cade, the dark-haired boy known for his smiling eyes was quick to respond. “No, Vega, I mean rewrite it.”
Eve Carrow was intrigued. “Why do you want to rewrite it, Cade?”
Cade looked embarrassed and responded more softly than usual. “Um, I think maybe I was too judgmental. Just want to do it over.”
Jessie looked admiringly at Cade, then at her best friend. Jinxsy knew Jessie had a crush on him but had been denying it. Jessie’s glance confirmed that she was ready to admit it. But whether or not she was ready to seek out Cade’s affections was an entirely different story.
Eve Carrow smiled. “Actually, Cade. I’d like you to read your paper as you wrote it and then tell us how you’d like to change it.”
“Oh, man. Do I have to?”
The class giggled and Jessie’s eyes grew wide with anticipation.
“As your teacher, I would truly appreciate it.”
“Read it, dude. Then tell everyone how you’ve gone soft on Radley.”
Eve looked sternly at the class loudmouth. “Mr. Vega, I can only surmise by your comments that you would prefer to lead the class into this exercise. By all means, why don’t you go first?”
Santino looked angry. “Listen, Ms. Carrow. I think it was really a stupid assignment. I mean, Harper Lee already wrote the character. There’s no point in us rewriting the dude. Sorry, didn’t do it and I’m not gonna do it. Any questions?”
As Santino’s words fell on the shocked class and the disrespected teacher, a gust of desert wind rushed through the open window, blew a small stapler off Eve Carrow’s desk, and sent it flying through the air before it landed sharply on Santino’s mouth.
“What the —?” Santino wiped the blood from his mouth.
As the class focused on the freak accident, Eve looked out the window and noticed that it was a very still day. The sagebrush was not moving. There was not even the faintest trace of wind.
About the Author:
Lisette Brodey was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After high school, she moved to New York City where she attended Pace University and studied drama. After ten years in New York, several of them working in the radio industry, she moved to Los Angeles, where she held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA.
Back on the East Coast, she worked for many years as a freelance writer, specializing in PR and the entertainment industry. In 2010, she returned permanently to the Los Angeles area.
Her first-published book, CROOKED MOON (General Fiction) was published in both the trade paperback and Kindle editions in 2008. Her first-written, second-published book, SQUALOR, NEW MEXICO (Young Adult/General Fiction) was published in the Kindle and trade paperback versions in 2009.
Her third novel, MOLLY HACKER IS TOO PICKY!, a romantic comedy, was published December 1, 2011. The author blogged as her character, Molly Hacker, for over a year. All blogs can be found at http://www.mollyhacker.com.
In January 2013, the author edited and published a book of her mother’s poetry (written 50 years earlier) called MY WAY TO ANYWHERE by Jean Lisette Brodey.
Lisette’s fourth novel, MYSTICAL HIGH, is the first book in her YA Paranormal Desert Series trilogy.
Review Copy Courtesy Of: Entangled Publishing, at no cost in exchange for an honest review.