Spellsinger, Chapter 13: Yay, Evil Gloating!

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 11.)

Everyone in town is milling about the great lawn at Ravenswood waiting for the concert to start. Mayor Davies is conducting interviews, and Kara is strutting about in her “Ravenswood hat and shiny dreamcatcher lapel pin … new cords rhinestone-accented jeans, boots, and brand new brown suede faux fur trimmed jacket worn over her Ravenswood tee”.

Pimped-Out Kara Outfit Count: 3

Kara says a few things to the press about how Ravenswood is supposed to bring the community together. Afterwards, she feels guilty about using the unicorn horn to cheat her way through the concert. There’s no way she’s going to be exposed as a cheater over the internet, so Kara resolves to return the horn and sing naturally. She runs inside the manor, opens the door to the library … and finds Johnny using the magitech computer.

I know, I know, the reader by this point should know that Johnny is a) a Skultum, and b) probably aware of the magitech computer now that he can shapeshift into Adriane. So it’s no surprise to us … but Kara, who’s been blinded by Just How Awesome Johnny is, is a little pissed off by Johnny’s intrusion.

Johnny distracts Kara, however, by telling her that now is her moment to become a star. (He’s also spellsinging under his breath the entire time, which activates the locket Kara’s wearing … which is not a +5 Luck locket, but a Cursed Locket of Mind-Raping!) He informs Kara that Adriane has been asking him for a recording contract, and ‘relays’ a message: Adriane deserves to be the blazing star, not Kara. This pisses off Kara even more! Johnny pretends to act clueless about Kara’s reaction in the new edition:

“Does that mean anything to you? Was that, like, supposed to be a name you wanted to record under?”

Kara vows to give Adriane a piece of her mind. Johnny gives her a few pre-boss-battle helpful hints, such as: “Hey, she’s downstairs in the dining room! And do everything in your power to show her you’re a star!” Of course, after Kara leaves (with the unicorn horn in tow), Johnny produces the Fairy Map and does some serious evil gloating (in the original edition):

He had practically smelled [the unicorn horn’s] power on her. But he could do nothing with it directly. The unicorn horn had been freely given to the Three, and as a result, only Kara, or one of her friends, could unleash its power.

He was, of course, much more powerful than Kara as a spellsinger, but magic was more than spellsinging … much more.

And, as he had told her quite honestly, she had something others simply didn’t possess. Star power. She would go out like a blazing star, a burst of magical energy as bright as the sun. If anyone’s life was going to be sacrificed in this endeavor, it wasn’t going to be his. And if by some miracle she survived tonight’s events, his instructions were to turn her over to the Dark Sorceress. She would disappear. Just as Be*Tween had disappeared. He pictured the famous girl band. They would never find a way to defeat him or any dark magic again.

Oh damn! Kara may die tonight when activating the Fairy Map! And Johnny may have been behind Be*Tween’s disappearance! (Which doesn’t make sense once you realize that Kara meets the band in the next book, and they’re totally fine.) The only thing that’ll make his evil plan work out is if Kara totally breaks down turns against her friends. And so far, it looks like that’s gonna happen….

Status Update!
Johnny’s Locket is re-identified as: Cursed Locket of Mind-Raping!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The concession stands are selling lemonade instead of juice.

Next time: BASS BATTLE!

Spellsinger, Chapter 12: Hello Again, Token Male Character!

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the second half of Chapter 10.)

While Kara is out talking with Johnny, Emily and Adriane are at the portal field in Ravenswood trying to summon Kara’s dragonflies. The girls’ attempts aren’t working out, and they can’t afford to wait any longer for Kara to show up (she’s already an hour late), so they try to come up with another way to open the portal (or, in the original edition, summon the dreamcatcher). Adriane suggests using the unicorn horn, but Ozzie (in the original edition) states that that may not be such a great idea. (Why? Does he know that Kara has it?) Emily thinks they should try a spellsong from the book she photocopied, so she gives pages to the other party members. After browsing through a few spells that the party never uses, they come across the perfect summoning song:

Come to us Hear our call, so strong and clear
We use this song to bring you near
We summon you before us, the image we see inside
We need your power, by this spell, abide

The party sings the spell — which is a one-time-use spell, because it disappears from the book, photocopies, and the party’s memories after casting — which opens the portal (or makes the dreamcatcher materialize). Adriane and Stormbringer sing a Wolfsong, which is soon answered by Moonshadow in Aldenmor.

Moonshadow and Zach have some good and bad news. The good thing is that there’s no more Black Fire fallout. However, the Sorceress has completed four massive crystals, which Zach thinks will be used to store magic from Avalon. But how the hell is the Sorceress going to access Avalon in the first place? In the original edition, the party believes this is an excellent time to recap their last adventure for Zach’s sake:

“We know the Sorceress damaged sections of the web trying to do something to the portals,” Emily said. “She even tried to use the magic of a unicorn horn, but it wouldn’t work for her.”

“Yeah, so how is she going to succeed this time?” Adriane asked.

The party immediately realizes that the Fairy Map is the key to opening Avalon, and that the Sorceress can’t use the map because it wasn’t given to her. Right before the portal closes, Zach tells the party that the Sorceress may have sent someone — or something — to Ravenswood who will manipulate the party into activating the map. Even though the dreamcatcher does keep evil things from entering the portal, the party notes that someone just entered Ravenswood without using said portal. And this someone has been spending way too much time with Kara….

After talking with Zach, Emily runs off to Kara’s house (in the original edition) while Adriane heads back to the manor. However, Gran tells Adriane that she’s not feeling well, so the two enter their cabin … only to find another Gran passed out on a couch. This is where, if Adriane actually read a comic book or watched a shit-ton of sci-fi movies, she should have noticed that one of the Grans was a Skrull or something. But no, Adriane’s all like, “WTF’s going on?” while not!Gran tackles Adriane, casts a sleep spell, and starts shapeshifting into her.

Yeah, massive fail there, Adriane.

Status Update!
Adriane, Emily, and Ozzie learn (and promptly forget): Summoning Spell!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Stormbringer only calls for Moonshadow once when attempting to contact him.

Next time: Kara grows a brain and realizes there’s a Skrull invasion going down.

Spellsinger, Chapter 11: Consolation Prize

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is the first half of Chapter 10.)

Kara wakes up the next morning feeling pissed off and relieved: pissed because Adriane was Detecting Magic during the contest and discovered Kara’s cheating ways, and relieved that she doesn’t have to bother with the contest anymore. Now she can finally get back to Important Ravenswood Business, namely returning the unicorn horn and contacting Zach back on Aldenmor. However, things don’t go quite as planned. Mayor Davies tells Kara that she has a surprise visitor, and it’s none other than Johnny Conrad.

After sharing pleasantries with the mayor (in the new edition), Johnny asks Kara why she backed out of the contest. Kara freezes, but Johnny reasons (in the new edition) that being in the contest conflicted with Kara’s responsibilities as the Ravenswood Preservation Society’s president. However, Kara still wants to sing with Johnny … so Johnny offers to let Kara sing a special song he wrote for Be*Tween during the concert. The song is called “Open the Door” “Shine Your Light”, which Johnny claims is about “tearing down walls and finding the path that’s right for you — letting friends know who you really are inside.”

But wait … what about the contest? Wasn’t singing a song with Johnny the grand prize? Not to worry — Johnny says he’ll get that stuff out of the way quickly at the beginning of the show so that Kara can shine. Apparently, Kara has to shine brighter than everyone else for this one brief moment, just like every other ephemeral teen idol.

Kara briefly wonders if that’s what blazing stars are supposed to do: explode in a gigantic supernova of magical energy. The thought freaks her out.

Next time: Hey look, it’s the Token Male Character!

Spellsinger, Chapter 10: Stonehill’s Got Talent

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 9.)

It’s time for the karaoke contest, and Kara is hella nervous. The last spellsong she cast has already worn off, and she thinks her outfit is terribad. Said outfit is a “long beige cardigan over a dark mini, black tights, hot pink pullover, brown suede pants, and her new Valero boots.” Oh, and her +5 Luck locket and the unicorn horn hidden in her pants pocket.

Pimped-Out Kara Outfit Count: 2

(Is it just me, or is Kara’s original outfit kinda provocative for a 12- or 13-year-old girl?)

Anyway, all the girls backstage ogle Kara’s new locket. In the original edition, the girls know the locket is Johnny’s because pictures of it were published in official biographies and websites. They just take Kara’s word that it’s Johnny’s in the revision. Some of the girls go squee over it, while others are visibly jealous.

Adriane eventually shows up in a pimped-out outfit of her own: a “black leather jacket and skirt, a black tube top, black vest, stylish jeans, and black leather boots.” Someone’s trying to cultivate a goth image. (Again … isn’t her original outfit kinda risque? Never in a million years can I picture Adriane in a tube top.) Adriane realizes that this whole karaoke battle thing has gotten out of hand in the new edition, and she tries to tell Kara about it:

“It’s just … some strange things have been going on.”

“You would think that,” Kara muttered.

Adriane’s eyes widened and she looked ready to deliver a nasty comeback — then she forced a smile into place. “Look, I haven’t been myself lately. I don’t know why it became so important to win this contest.”

Kara tapped her foot, waiting.

“Okay, what do you think is going on?” Adriane asked.

“Nothing,” Kara said impatiently, looking past Adriane to where the contestants were starting to line up.

The karaoke contest begins! Adriane is the sixth performer, and she goes onstage playing some sort of classic rock song. It’s never specified in the book, but for the purposes of this recap I’m gonna pretend Adriane played this:

(Yes, this is what I think when I hear “classic rock”. You’re more than welcome to suggest something different ^_^)

It’s Heather’s turn next. She sings something so amazing that most of the contestants after her want to drop out.

Eventually it’s Kara’s turn. She goes onstage, gets really nervous … then notices that Johnny is mouthing along to the song Kara chose. The locket flares up, which causes Kara to black out in the original edition. In the revision, Kara is fully aware of what she’s doing on stage:

She reached for the power of the unicorns and felt a sparkle of fire where the locket hung.

With a twirl, Kara stepped into a choreographed dance move, moving in sync with the beat. Her voice sang out, filling the auditorium and carrying the melody in perfect pitch. Rocking out, Kara danced up a storm as the crowd was swept to their feet with the excitement of her performance.

Either way, the crowd goes wild. The contest winners are announced soon afterwards, and of course the list includes Adriane, Heather, and Kara. Adriane isn’t pleased, however: she’s been Detecting Magic throughout the entire contest, so she noticed that Kara had some magical help. She forces Kara to back out of the finals, but Kara only agrees to do so if Adriane does, too — or else she’ll tell everyone that Adriane practiced with Johnny. In the new edition, Adriane also asks Kara why she has to sing in the finals … and Kara doesn’t have a good reason.

Kara tells Johnny’s people that she’s backing out, and immediately thinks about how she’ll take her frustrations out on Adriane….

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Kara wears a sequined tank top instead of a hot pink pullover.

Next time: Kara gets a surprise visitor.

Spellsinger, Chapter 9: Fun with Generic Fantasy Prophecies

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 8.)

Lucky for Kara, she’s not too badly injured from her battle with the hitherto-unknown-to-her Skultum!Lyra, so she cleans herself off before the Catty Girl Posse arrive to help out with Important Concert Stuff. Important Concert Stuff apparently means ordering a three-cheese pizza, singing along to Johnny Conrad songs, and listening to Heather run through voice exercises. (Remember all the way back in the revised edition of Book 2 where Kara mentions that Heather takes singing lessons?)

The Catty Girls ask Heather to sing “Supernatural High”, which she does. However, Kara gets pissed off by this because a) Heather’s a naturally talented singer, and b) “Supernatural High” was the song Kara sang with Lyra all the way back in Chapter 1. Still all discombobulated after the boss battle, Kara tells Heather to shut the hell up. The Catty Girls chalk up Kara’s odd behavior to being overworked with Ravenswood stuff and leave.

A few minutes later, Emily shows up at Kara’s house to drop off photocopies of the spellsinging book. Each party member gets a third of the book; the girls will each take notes and compare them after the concert.

Before Emily leaves, Kara asks Emily why the Fairimentals had chosen her to join the party and ruined her social life. Emily isn’t sure why they were chosen or how far their quest will take them, but she does know that two-thirds of the party have fulfilled their part of the Generic Fantasy Prophecy. Adriane followed her heart by searching for Stormbringer on Aldenmor, and Emily saw in darkness when guiding the party back to Ravenswood after the battle with the harpy … leaving Kara to change completely and utterly in some manner. Kara, of course, doesn’t want that to happen. This leads to a discussion on changes in the new edition:

[Emily said,] “My dad always says life is change. I think he means that we’re going to change no matter what we do, if we want to or not.”

Kara flashed on the magnificent white unicorn that had taken her to the beaches of Avalon. Fairy wraiths, the guardians of Avalon, had asked her if she was ready to become the blazing star.

This goes into a scene directly lifted from All That Glitters, in which Kara learns that only people who truly understand magic (read: at a high enough level) can see Avalon, and that the fairy map is to help blazing stars find Avalon. Going on….

Only the blazing star could open the fairy map to Avalon — the one she had lost.

Kara blinked and looked back at her friend’s warm smile.

“Emily, something is happening to me,” Kara admitted. “How do I know what to do? What’s right?”

The healer smiled. “When I see Ozzie, or Ariel, or Storm, or any of the other animals, and the way they look at me, the way they love me and you and Adriane … I just know it’s the right thing to help them. Because we’re friends and we love them.”

“Yeah … ” Kara agreed.

“That’s one thing that will never change.”

Kara sighed and walked to the window, looking for a pair of golden wings. “I wish I could believe that.”

Emily then leaves Kara’s place. Kara tries to think about how great a friend Emily is, but then the locket flashes (in the new edition), and her thoughts immediately drift to how she’ll use her new collection of spellsongs to win the karaoke contest….

Status Update!
Kara (and by extension Emily and Adriane) obtains: Spellsinging Book (1/3)!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The fairy wraiths don’t tell Kara that she’s not a high enough level to see the Gates of Avalon during the flashback.

Next time: Kara violates the sanctity of Karaoke Battle!

Spellsinger, Chapter 8: (Yet Another) Unexpected Boss Battle!

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 7.)

Kara tries her best to hide her new-and-improved singing voice from the rest of the student body. (In the original edition, everyone at school is also scared shitless by the glass-shattering incident, which gives Kara a perfect excuse for ditching class.) At the end of the day, while getting stuff out of her pimped-out locker, Adriane confronts her. Apparently Kara’s been avoiding the party, which isn’t a good thing when they need to talk about possible evil (or neutral!) stuff hanging about Ravenswood. Adriane suggests that they contact Zach, because:

“Maybe he found the Fairy Glen.”

“And how do you propose we do that?”

“We can use the portal or the d-flies–”

“We can’t open the portal, and now you want a long-distance dragonfly call to Aldenmor? That’s the last thing I need right now!”

The girls complain that they both have been acting weird, which prompts Adriane to apologize for her OOC-ness:

“What has gotten into you?” Adriane demanded.

“Me? What about you, Miss I’m-So-Gonna-Sing-With-Johnny!”

“Yeah, okay, I got a little carried away. But I’m over that.”

Their argument is cut short when Johnny Conrad shows up in his limo and offers Kara a ride home. Kara accepts, of course, because Johnny is Just That Awesome.

While hanging out in the limo, Johnny tells Kara that she has to do whatever she feels is necessary to achieve her goals and shine brighter than everyone else. Before dropping Kara off at the trail that leads to her home, Johnny gives Kara a golden locket that he wore during his first gig. He says it was a good luck charm, and he hopes it works for Kara. Of course, Kara puts it on (in the new edition) and mentally claims that she’ll wear it forever and ever. (Originally she just put it in her backpack and planned on wearing it to the contest.)

So Kara walks down the trail and reaches a bridge that crosses a river. She decides to run through a few scales in the new edition, but in the original edition she attempts to sing “Feel the Magic”:

But alas, the singing spell from last chapter wore off! Kara laments that she’ll never be able to impress Johnny now — and in the original edition, she totally develops a creepy fangirl-crush on him:

Johnny wasn’t like everyone else. He really listened to her. He respected her point of view, and he was willing to talk to her in ways no one ever had before.

(I do not want to know what “ways no one ever had before” means.)

Realizing that she needs to regain her golden pipes, Kara casts another spellsong with the unicorn horn:

Sing a spell make it come true
Let Make my voice ring loud and clear
Change how I sing, and change what they hear
I’ll be as perfect as can be,
Make each note a part of me Everyone will want to sing like me

And it totally works! Kara finally sings Be*Tween’s other single just as it sounds in the above clip! But then something swoops down from the ‘bove … something that looks suspiciously like Lyra! And it attacks! I guess you know what that means:

Boss: Lyra?
Yeah, I’m just as confused as you are!
Attacks: Um, she’s been in the party since the beginning. You should know this by now.

Kara doesn’t want to fight a boss battle against her best friend, but she’s getting mauled pretty badly. Reluctantly she manages to cast some sort of fire spell that knocks Lyra off the bridge and into the river below.

Kara immediately runs home … and finds Lyra sleeping on her bed? Lyra wakes up and has no idea why Kara looks all disheveled, and is further confused and disappointed when Kara kicks her out of the house.

Meanwhile, the other Lyra transforms into … Johnny Conrad? Oh crap, Johnny’s a Skrull — I mean, a Skultum, which is what he describes himself as during his Behold My Evil Plan inner monologue (from the revision):

Keep Kara under his spell. Keep her confused enough so she only trusted him — that was the plan. He had only been able to use a subtle spell on the warrior — the girl’s mistwolf was already getting suspicious — but it had been enough. The stunt with Windor took care of that problem. Now he had taken care of the flying cat before the animal could sense the spell on her bonded, but still, the other animals knew he was here. He had to move fast. It was time to drive the final wedge between the warrior and the blazing star.

And when the moment was right, Kara would use her magic to align the portals hidden in the fairy map — and the pathway to Avalon would be revealed.

Also, the Skultum reveals that he planted the Spellsinging book in the library, and that Kara was the only one that was supposed to find it.

Interesting note: The mages do have some resistance to Charm, as long as their bonded animals can detect it. I think this is also the first time a bonded animal is referred to as a “bonded”, which has always seemed odd to me. I feel like there should be a word after “bonded” — it sounds incomplete.

Status Update!
Kara learns: two more spells she’ll never use again!
Kara obtains: Johnny’s Locket (+5 to Luck?)!
Lyra leaves the party!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Kara’s response to Adriane’s apology is different:

    “Oh, really!” Kara scoffed.

Next time: The Catty Girl Posse disbands?! What’s going on here?

Spellsinger, Chapter 7: How Do I Do Magic, Part 3

(If you’re reading the original edition, this is Chapter 6.)

Kara is not doing too great on her way to school the next day. She feels guilty about stealing the unicorn horn, and whines laments her lack of a Sparkly Rock and her role in the party. Kara realizes that, compared to Emily and Adriane, she is severely under-leveled, and believes that she won’t get anywhere without a Sparkly Rock or other artifact that proves she’s a Blazing Star. (In the original edition, she also worries that she doesn’t have any magical talents and that she may never get a Sparkly Rock ever.)

But then Kara remembers that she does have a unicorn horn, and unicorn horns can do Almost Anything. This segues into a brief segment on Kara’s experiences with the Unicorn Jewel in the original edition:

She remembered the wild magic of the unicorn jewel she had found a month ago. In her hands, that jewel was awesome in its power. Although she had given it back to the unicorn’s maidens, the magic of the unicorn jewel had awakened in her feelings that would never again lie dormant. Feelings that would not, could not, be denied. A part of her needed to unleash the magic. It lay pent up inside, dark, cold, and vicious, like a coiled snake, ready to strike.

Lyra flies in at this time, and asks Kara to demonstrate her singing skills. What Kara sings isn’t specified in the new edition, but in the original it’s “Friend in You”:

Of course, Kara sucks at singing, so it doesn’t sound as good as the clip I posted. Lyra suggests that Kara takes singing lessons. Kara, however, thinks about using the unicorn horn to improve her singing skills. Lyra senses this, which prompts Kara to consider telling the astronomical leopard everything she’s done in the original edition:

As much as Kara deeply needed to unburden herself to her friend, there were so many things she was trying to come to grips with. She wasn’t exactly proud of what she had done, and though she knew she could trust Lyra, Kara still worried about how the cat would react once she knew the truth — not only had she taken the unicorn horn after the girls had made a promise to one another to always keep it hidden away, but she was planning to use the magic for her own selfish gain.

I’m actually surprised Kara feels so guilty about stealing the horn in the original edition — which makes me wonder why she never bothers to return the damn thing when given the chance. (Said chance is right now, by the way.) Anyway, Kara’s running late for school, so she leaves Lyra.

At school, Kara can’t really think about anything except Johnny Conrad, spellsinging, and using the horn. It’s glossed over in the original edition, but expanded on in the revision:

…Kara’s greatest frustration was that she didn’t have the spellsinging book. If she had been more on top of things, she would have gotten it back from Emily the night before. The time spent with Johnny had seemed to cast another kind of a spell on her, making her feel light-headed with joy, not able to think as clearly as she usually did. Today she could hardly concentrate. All she could think about was spellsinging. And Johnny.

Kara’s so distracted that, in the original edition, she ditches one of her classes so she can try out the horn. Yeah, real smart move there. The revised edition changes it so that Kara does her experiment during lunch, which is a less conspicuous time to do so. (Also, we don’t have to go over Kara’s elaborate plans for not getting caught.)

So Kara hangs out by the band room, where the school choir is practicing. Kara tries to sing along, but realizes that she can’t without some magical help. So she takes out the horn and asks it to make her sing good. When that doesn’t work, Kara briefly thinks that the horn may only work for Emily. However, Kara decides to try composing a spellsong that will improve her singing voice:

I want to sing like a bird
The best in the world
Make my voice ring
I’m super-stylin’

Kara raps this — I’m not kidding — which causes the horn to react. Overflowing with magical energy, Kara runs through a three-octave scale perfectly — so perfectly, in fact, that she breaks a window with her voice. But then (in the new edition) she gets drunk with power!

Yes! The jewel was exactly what she needed. Just like the last time, the exquisite power she used with the jewel of the unicorn. Only this time it was stronger — just what she needed to change….

Luckily, Kara’s able to rein in her power before she gets caught playing with an Awesome Magic Artifact.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Windor is released from jail, insisting that she was nowhere near the Fletcher residence last night. The door hits her ass on her way out.

Status Update!
Kara learned: some spellsong that improves her singing ability, which she’ll never use again!

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The choir doesn’t practice in a spacious music room.
  • Kara starts singing a G instead of an A when she experiments with the unicorn horn.

Next time: What, a boss battle already?