NIKITA WHITFIELD AND THE BUTTERFLY EATER
Fourteen-year-old Nikita Whitfield thinks there are only two good things about going to Pemberton Academy. One: it’ll give her some space from her overbearing mother. Two: no one there will compare her to her superstar older sister.
When she arrives, she learns Pemberton is more than just uniforms and English essays. It’s also a training ground for budding Technicians: kids who can cast illusions, smash concrete, and control other people’s minds.
She’s determined to become one of them. Even if that means enlisting help from a dwarf whose temper’s shorter than he is, serving a king grizzly bear that can stop time, and fighting against kingslayers and classmates alike.
But serving the Bear King also means defending him against his traitors, who're lurking under Nikita's nose. They're hungry for war, and when they drag Nikita's family into battle, she’ll need to decide which role best suits her: damsel or avenger.
My mother's voice pierces my ears like a sharp knife.
“Did you remember the extra batteries, Dean?”
The thumping in my head is so loud that I almost don't hear my father's answer. I focus on counting the balloons but I barely make it to six before I feel another painful throb. My sister's graduation should be a happy day, but all I want to do is curl into a ball.
For one thing, my mother's been doing what she always does when she's anxious: making everyone else anxious. I can barely stop myself from screaming at her nonstop questions.
But, when I close my eyes to calm myself, the strange images I see are even worse. My mother’s staring at me, but not like she should be—with a worried look in her eyes, agonizing about something else my father forgot. Instead, in my mind’s eye, tears stream down her face, a silent scream rips from her lips and she’s showered in blood.
My eyes snap open and I rub the image away. I immediately hunt for my mother and she’s back to her normal, nervous self. But what was that image about?
Thinking about it makes my headache even worse, so I bury my face in my program. The words swim in front of my eyes and sweat dribbles down my neck from the summertime heat.
“And graduating magna cum laude, Thomas Kim!” the provost shouts.
We’re only on ‘K’ so it’ll take us forever to get to my sister, Kaia Whitfield.