I’d like to introduce you to my favorite character of all time: Pru Stewart. Pru is sixteen, smart, a talented and driven cheerleader…and a witch. For most of her life she has lived in the mortal realm though — where practicing magic is forbidden by her parents (her mom’s the witch, her dad’s the mortal). Pru has been obedient, except for the occasional slip up here and there. A zit spell, a little self-correction when she’s cheering. Nothing big. Her younger brother (she calls him Dorklock) Tobias? Not so much.
So the whole family is moving from Beverly Hills, California to Salem, Massachusetts. And Pru is going to a school for witches. After having practiced magic for a total of a few hours her whole life, tops. Naturally, she is not happy.
The thing I like most about Pru is that you can’t get her down for long. So what if she’s in remedial magic classes? She’s not opposed to enlisting Samuel, the smartest guy in her new school, to help her turbo charge her study sessions. She can even swallow the disappointment of being the least talented cheerleader on the team (cheerleading witches fly) — at least, until she figures out the whole magic situation.
If only Agatha, the headmistress of her new school, wasn’t so dead set against improperly trained witches. Agatha is certain that Pru will fail. The headmistress is ready and willing to expel Pru for the most minor infraction of the rules. It doesn’t help that Agatha’s great-to-the-nth nephew Daniel is a hottie, with an eye on the new girl in school.
I hope you enjoy reading more about Pru’s adventures in witchcraft as much as I enjoyed writing about them. You can catch up with Pru’s adventures in The Salem Witch Tryouts (first in the series), and She’s a Witch Girl (third in the series).
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She’s a Witch Girl
Prudence Stewart is FINALLY getting her witch on at Agatha’s Day School. Sadly, her love life isn’t quite so charmed. Boy trouble is lurking, big-time:
• First, there’s Angelo, Pru’s adorable crush-next-door. When he shows up at Agatha’s, it spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for Pru. Especially when it comes to…
• Samuel, Pru’s best bud and tutor in all things magical. For Angelo and Samuel, it was loathe at first sight.
• And then there’s Daniel, the bad boy with wicked talent — who also happens to be the great-great-great-great-grandson of Pru’s nemesis, Agatha herself.
With all this boy drama, it’s all Pru can do to prep for the national cheerleading competition — the one that will bring her broomstick-to- spirit-stick with her former squad AND her boy-stealing ex-BFF.
A little magic just might come in handy right now….
Maybe it isn’t wise to mix witches and mortals at the dinner table, but my family has been doing it for as long as I can remember and we’re still here. This Thanksgiving was extra special, as it was the first time we’d hosted the big family pig-out in our new house in Salem, Massachusetts. It was also the first time we’d hosted since we’d starting living on the witch side of life, after sixteen years living like mortals in Beverly Hills, California.
“I’ll do the dishes for you for a week if there’s no big blowout this year,” my little brother Tobias had offered as we sat neatly groomed waiting for the grandmothers to arrive and pinch our cheeks and tell us how we’d grown.
“What do you wan from me if there is?” I had learned to ask that early on with the Dorklock.
“You do the dishes and the garbage.”
I noticed right away that advantage was to him. Doing the dishes was a magic task, where taking out the trash involved carting the trashcan to the street the mortal way, just in case the neighbors noticed. Still, I said, “You’re on.” He was sneaky, but I was pretty sure that even though our situation had changed, Mom and Dad were going to keep it under control. They’ve had lots of experience.
Sure, we’ve had a few unexpected but very necessary mind wipes occur when my mom’s witch relatives had a little too much of the holiday cheer to drink and my dad’s mortal family saw something they shouldn’t have seen. But my parents juggled tricky incidents like a pair of Cirque du Soleil pros.
Take, for example, the rules they’ve worked out: First, we only host mixed gatherings on major holidays. Second, we serve hors d’oerves at two, dinner at three and hand out doggie bags of leftovers promptly at eight. Apparently, very early on, my parents discovered any longer than six hours and the likelihood of a magic-mortal disaster shot up. It must have been a good story, because they told us their rules, but they never told us how they found out about the six hour limit. One day I might worm the story out of Dad. Living in Salem has started to lighten him up big time about the whole magic in the house thing. I guess it was that or lock himself in a room and never come out again.
He was pretty cheerful — on top of the usual nervous twitch of his eyebrow, of course — as he lined up the glasses and top quality whiskey and scotch on the bar. “I think we’re ready for it, this time.” He put the bowl of cut lemons and limes between the bottles of vodka and gin. “This is our first Thanksgiving in Salem. I hope you two realize how very fitting it is that we get to celebrate this holiday in the place where the Pilgrims lived.”
“Sure Dad,” I agreed. The other rule for holidays was that we were always supposed to agree, all day long, no matter what. If Grandma Edna asked if we were doing well in school, we nodded in agreement. If Dad asked if we were having fun, another nod.
Mostly Dorklock and I followed the rule. Toward the end of the six hours it sometimes got hairy. In the past, I’d manage to avoid breaking the rule by sneaking to my room for a quick screamfest into my pillow: “No, I do not want another helping of sweet potato. No! That hat you’re wearing makes you look like a fashion don’t poster. No! I am not having fun!!”
I have no idea how Dorklock survived the holiday agreeables. For all I knew, he — being a gifted and Talented witch at the tender age of thirteen — may have created an always nodding Doppleganger for the hairy moments and escaped off to his room and his video games.
The worst moment of all is always the same: we’re seated around the dinner table, all twelve of us (Mom, Dad, me, Dorklock, Grandmama, Grandfather, and Cousin Mike on the witch side; Grandma Edna, Grampa Ben, Uncle Steve, his wife Donna and their son Scotty on the mortal side). The food is steaming on the table in front of us. Our glasses are filled with sparkling cider or champagne, depending on age and preference. Dad stands up, lifts his glass of champagne and everyone gets quiet, waiting for the inevitable speech about how wonderful it is to have the whole family gathered yet again.
This time year things were slightly different. There were fourteen of us, because Mom had invited my Fringie friend from school, Samuel, and his dad. They were witches, but they weren’t prejudiced against mortals. I think they probably were behaving better than my family, who sometimes had a bad attitude about the visible magic ban my mom had in place. They certainly seemed happy to listen to Dad give his traditional Thanksgiving speech.
Even that tradition had a Salem twist to it this year I discovered as Dad said, “I can almost imagine that there were Pilgrims on this very spot, gathered as we are today.” I looked at the ghosts that lived in the house, who had gathered around the table to watch the spectacle of the living. There were several dressed in Pilgrim drab. It almost made my dad’s corny tradition of having everyone go around the table and say something they’re grateful for seem normal — at least as normal as possible for a half-witch half-mortal family.
As it turned out, though, I didn’t like the tradition any better this year than I ever had. It seemed so fake. I know a cheerleader should have a better attitude. I’ll just blame it on the fact that I was hungry, and the food looked good, and there were fourteen of us to be thankful this year. So was it any wonder that when it was my turn to be thankful for something that I raised my glass of bubbly cider and said, “I’m thankful that it hasn’t snowed yet this year. Next.”
“Here, here!” Grandmama lifted her glass of champagne. “Can’t stand the wretched stuff myself.”
My dad cleared his throat and gave me a look. But I was safe from lecture, happily, so I ignored Dad’s feeble attempt at reprimand and sent a witch whisper to my best friend Samuel’s ear. “Thanks for coming to dinner. You just saved me having to make up something puke worthily saccharine.”
He looked guiltily at my dad’s mom — who was sitting next to him — but as soon as he realized I’d witch-whispered instead of thanked him aloud, he smiled and witch-whispered back, “Your mom and dad — “
My dad interrupted him by saying his name, “Samuel. Would you like to join our family tradition and say what you’re thankful for?”
Samuel quickly wiped the guilty look off his face, realizing that Dad had just worked his way around the table and didn’t know that we’d been using magic to talk to each other. “Yes, I would, thank you for asking.” He switched his guilty look from Dad to me. “I’m thankful that such a nice family invited my dad and I to share their Thanksgiving with them.”
Everyone, witches and mortals alike cooed happily at that gag-worthy sentiment.
“Suck-up.” I witch-whispered to Samuel, happy that I could since it didn’t break the no-visible magic rule.
“Just telling the truth,” he witch-whispered back.
He was, too, geeky mortal-groupie. “Except the part about being glad you don’t have to put the kibosh on your magic for much longer.”
He surreptitiously flicked a pea off his plate onto mine. “Hey, for a slice of your mom’s apple pie, I’d be magic-free for a whole day.”
I flicked the pea back, directly into the gravy swimming on his mashed potatoes. “Like I said, suck up.”
Samuel’s dad cleared his throat from across the table and Samuel turned his attention to the thanks being given around the table. Traitor.
After everyone said their favorite thing — my younger brother Tobias, aka Dorklock was thankful for his newest video game, natch — my dad lifted his glass again and said, “To my wife, who has put together an amazing feast, as usual, to my son, who found a pair of clean socks for the occasion,” he paused while everyone laughed. I could see the look in his eye so I knew to brace for what was coming next. “And to Pru, who has adjusted to her new school and is about to guide her new cheerleading squad to a successful regional competition routine.”
Cousin Mike scoffed, “Cheerleading? Why don’t you go in for a real sport, Pru? Especially now you’re in Salem and at Agatha’s. Why not play dragonball?”
“Dragonball Z’s not a sport!” That from my mortal cousin Stevie.
“I think Uncle Mike meant football, didn’t you Uncle Mike?” Yeah, right. Football. Only not for sissies,” he muttered. Should I mention again that Uncle Mike (short for Michaelangelo — no not that Michaelangelo, he was just named for the famous sculptor) is on my mom’s side of the family?
“Good one, Uncle Mike,” I said. I didn’t even roll my eyes, because Dad had made such a nice — if blood sugar high alert level — toast to me.
My cousin could always be counted on to diss the cheer factor, too. “Pru wouldn’t want to break a nail or anything.”
I smiled at him sweetly, “A girl’s got to have good nails. I’m glad I taught you something.”
Samuel, unexpectedly jumped to my defense. “Stevie, you should get her to show you how to do a backflip.”
“I’m more into tackling.”
His little brother piped up, “Don’t you mean being tackled?”
I couldn’t resist, “I could teach you a neat backflip which could let you leap over your opposition.”
Everyone laughed and I noticed mom and dad relax that the reference to dragonball had been safely skated past without further questions.
I feel sorry for couples who don’t come from the same country and have to have family dinners that negotiate difference customs and different languages. Magic can cause trouble sometimes, but it can also be useful in cleaning up the messes.
Fortunately, this first holiday in the new house and new lifestyle went without incident.
Which is not to say without commentary. Neither grandmother could stop themselves from making mention that my parents had invited a boy my age to a holiday dinner.
Grandma Edna (Dad’s mom): “He’s a very serious young man, Pru, and so polite. He reminds me of your father at that age. But don’t settle until after college.”
Grandmama (Mom’s mom): “He’s a nice enough boy, I suppose. But the family — well I don’t like to lay the parent’s sins at the feet of the child. Still, you don’t have time for distractions, you have to concentrate on school and on — “ With a look at Grandma Edna, she said, “and concentrate on finding your Talent.”
“We’re just friends.”
I rarely saw my grandmothers have the same reaction to anything at the same time. But they both looked at me like my words went through grandmother-interpreting-
Dad came to my rescue, “Don’t worry about Pru, she has her priorities straight. She’s been studying so hard, and at the same time she’s helped her cheerleading team do a fundraiser and start competing, like she did with her old team.”
Grandma Edna: “I’m so proud of you, but you’re looking a bit tired. Are you getting enough sleep?”
Grandmama: “Sleep? There’s time enough for sleep when she’s old like we are, Edna. But competition with — “ another glance at Grandma Edna. “ — other schools? Is that a wise idea?”
“I’m fine.” I hugged Grandma Edna. “I’m more than fine.” I hugged Grandmama. “I’m more than fine.”
I’d never thought I’d say that after the seismic shift that happened when we moved from Beverly Hills to Salem. It was even more amazing to know that it was true.
I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot of challenges ahead. I started regular magic classes next week. We had two weeks until the next regional competition. If we didn’t get a bid for national at that one, we were out of luck for this year. And since we were still short of winning competition shape, that was scary.
But, for the first time since moving here, I felt like it was all good. I had my Prutastic attitude back. I could do it. I would do it. Even if it killed me.
Okay. It may only be the end of November, but I, Prudence Stewart, am making my New Year’s Resolutions early for next year. It’s crunch time and I don’t have any more squirm room. Like Yoda says, it’s “Do or not do. There is no try.”
First resolution: I’m going to stop wishing I wasn’t a witch. Cold turkey on that one.
Not that I haven’t been trying to buy into the witch-is-great idea since my parents moved my brother and I to Salem, Massachusetts from Beverly Hills, California just in time for me to begin my junior year of high school in a new place, new school, new life — with all news rules that include doing the magic I’d been forbidden to do in Beverly Hills.
No. It’s the mortal-life-is-over part I’m having trouble with. I know I’m a witch. I can’t change it, unless I want to risk turning mortal — and then possibly dying of some unnamed ailment that Mom won’t talk about. It must be bad, though, because she turns white every time I bring up the subject.
But why does being a witch mean I can’t keep doing some things the mortal way if I want to? Or hang out with mortals like my totally hot neighbor Angelo? After all, my dad is a mortal! I don’t see my mom telling me to stop talking to him.
It’s not that I hate my life in Salem. Or my new school, Agatha’s School for Witches. Or the fact I’ve just tested out of remedial classes and will be starting regular magic classes on Monday. Hard classes. No, I don’t hate it. Much.
So what if I have to work even harder to keep my grades up. After all, my fellow cheerleaders are counting on me. Coach Gertie put me in charge of shaping up our squad for the national competition, too. Which is a major deal, since I was in charge of getting us ready for the regionals two weeks ago and we performed like football players using an invisible ball.
Oh well. We’re signed up for the next regionals, our last change to get an invitation to the national competitions. Do I sound crazy when I say I think we can do it? Yeah, I do. Blame it on the turkey. All that tryptophan makes me feel invincible — and a little bit sleepy.