Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull
by A.M. Albaugh
Genre: YA Fantasy 278 pages
When Nora Youngblood’s father dies on her sixteenth birthday, it’s the end of everything she ever knew. But a new journey begins with a skull-shaped pocket watch – the last gift from her father, a professor of archaeology. Where did this mysterious trinket come from, and why would a warlock named Kabos now be hunting her for it?
Nora, now an orphan, finds protection under a wizard named Malachi, his handsome apprentice, Aidan, and a brother she never knew she had. As she learns the truth about her family’s mysterious past, Nora seeks to uncover the secret of the skull, which leads to both a powerful and dangerous weapon. With the fate of the skull in her hands, she’s lured into the hidden world of Dubhgail to combat the treacherous Kabos – who has kidnapped her brother. Can she sacrifice herself to save her brother and her friends?
In this fantasy novel, a teenage girl discovers her magical heritage and soon finds herself facing the might of an evil warlock in another world.
Raynor sat down on the box spring slowly. Eva had died in a car accident, but now Nora was not so sure that it was an accident.
“The car burst into flames,” he uttered. “There was nothing left but ash.”
Nora frowned and sat down next to her brother. “Isn’t it odd that Kabos found this book at Yggdrasil?” she asked. “It just seems like Dad would have taken more care in keeping it a secret.”
Raynor looked at her in astonishment, and nodded in agreement. “Kabos had the book,” he said and scowled. “Then he left it there on purpose for you or Malachi to find.”
“But why?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he answered.
That night as Nora lay sleeping, a barely audible but distinctly musical sound awoke her. It sounded like piano music, but they didn’t have a piano in the house. It was melodic and melancholic, and as she sat up, she thought she could hear it better. It was Rachmaninoff’s “Elégie in E-Flat Minor”. Feeling as though she had no control over her body, her head began to sway along with the music. She got out of bed, and headed down the stairs slowly. In the middle of the living room was a black grand piano. As she walked around it, she saw her mother in a white night gown. Confused, she wondered if she was dreaming.
Nora was about to sit next to her mother on the bench, when Raynor ran down and yelled from the middle of the steps.
“No! It’s Kabos!”
Nora watched in horror as her mother turned to look at her, and her face and body decomposed before her eyes. She jumped away from the piano, and the piano turned into a black liquid that coalesced and coagulated into a ball. The black ball oozed a man’s head with many sharp teeth, and limbs began to form and grow.
Taking a deep breath, Nora closed her eyes. She stood still and began muttering. Raising her arms, she repeated the lines louder. “Wha hai maru si hnou! Veri ni ma valu.
Aux laudam recidai!” she said.
Raynor ran to her and pulled her away as she watched the dumbfounded face on the black ball begin to melt away. The furniture in the living room caught fire, and the dark
ball tried to amalgamate again, but failed and oozed a tarlike substance all over the floor. The floor and the walls caught fire rapidly.
“We have to get out of here!” Raynor yelled.
“My backpack!” she cried and ran upstairs.
She found her backpack in her bedroom, but on her way out she noticed that the fire had spread. Running back to the stairs as quickly as she could, choking and sweating, she found that half of the stairs was gone.
A. M. Albaugh is an award-winning poet and photographer. She studied anthropology and communications with an emphasis in film and television at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Favorite authors include Hermann Hesse, Dostoyevsky, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lao Tzu, Kurt Vonnegut, Knut Hamsun, and Kahlil Gibran. She also enjoys writing code.