The Graveyard Gift

The Graveyard Gift

The Graveyard Gift

The Graveyard Gift

Hardcover

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Overview

Hold your breath, make the choice, and step into Fern’s School for Wayward Fae—where students are part human and part magical. A girl with peculiar abilities discovers nothing is what it seems when sinister forces causes one of her classmates to go missing. Perfect for fans of Wednesday.

A girl who knows how you die. Her banshee roommate who knows when it happens. And wishes that sometimes, maybe, come true. . . .

Rosemary Thorpe has always been a bit different. She has the uncanny and unfortunate ability to foresee people’s deaths, which tends to land her in hot water. Well, not actual hot water—where it lands her is a place between worlds called Fern’s School for Wayward Fae, where Rosemary learns that her powers come from being part fae.

At Fern's School, Rosemary meets others who are part fae—including Trym, her banshee roommate whose screams can kill, and Essie, a djinn who grants wishes. But just as Rosemary settles in, a student vanishes in thin air. And it’s up to all the kids to use their curious gifts to find their missing friend. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593810477
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/08/2024
Series: Fern's School for Wayward Fae , #1
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 11,106
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.62(d)
Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Fern Forgettable—if that is her real name—is a fairy of mystery. Fern insists the School for Wayward Fae, a place for students who are part human, and part other, is named after her, but that, like many things she says, is not quite the truth. Don’t let her sparkly wings and fiery red hair fool you into thinking she’s good, for things are rarely as simple as “good” and “bad” when it comes to the fae.

Piper CJ, author of the bestselling series The Night and Its Moon, is a photographer, hobby linguist, and french fry enthusiast. She has an M.A. in Folklore and a B.A. in Broadcasting, which she used in her former life as a morning show weather girl, hockey podcaster, and in audio documentary work. Now when she isn’t playing with her dogs, Arrow and Applesauce, she’s making TikToks, studying Vietnamese, or writing fantasy very, very quickly.

Read an Excerpt

1

Between You and Me

Can you keep a secret?

I can’t, but it’s hardly my fault. Fairies enjoy mischief. We’re not bad, you see, though it might be a mistake to call us good. Few things in life are as simple as that.

If you’re human, and I hope you are, then you might be able to listen to this story and lock it away so it can stay safe. Humans are better at that than fairies, so I’m told. But if you’re not human, and there’s a chance you are not, then don’t be cross with me for what I’m about to say. After all, it’s in my nature.

Some children are born believing that they’re human, only to find out that some-thing magical twists and swirls in their bones. Twelve years ago, one such child, a girl called Rosemary Thorpe, was born to a perfectly human mother in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Rosemary was a good student, a good daughter, and a very talented artist. She was too smart for her own good, according to her moth-er, which Rosemary always took as a compliment. She had muddy-brown hair and large hazel eyes, and she preferred to dress in gray. She enjoyed collecting rocks and getting lost in the dense trees around her house, and she hated the high-pitched sounds of computers, televisions, and phones. Though she washed her hair and did her chores and rarely told lies and was always polite, Rosemary had trou-ble keeping friends. For you see, most humans do not like to be told how they will die.

She received her first whopping at the age of four when she informed the mailman that he shouldn’t eat pie so quickly, as he was doomed to choke on it. In the first grade, she was sent to detention for telling her teacher not to be so strict with Trevor, as he wouldn’t make it to Christmas. She was sent to the principal’s office in grade three for informing the librarian that the shelves were unstable, and that the woman was to meet a swift and squishy end unless they were fixed. She re-ceived her first suspension in grade five for making a classmate faint when relay-ing that lightning would in fact strike twice, and both times would be atop her head. And Rosemary Thorpe was permanently expelled in grade six when her peers sat in a circle at free period, each and every one receiving their grim for-tune, until eight sets of parents complained.

Homeschooling was lonely, but Rosemary didn’t mind. It gave her time to read and write in her journal and, most importantly, work on her art.

Rosemary’s mother, Eleanor Thorpe, was a very kind woman with a very worried face. Though she was fairly young as far as mothers go, she had four deep lines across her forehead, all carved with concern. She made a wonderful rhubarb pie, had a nice singing voice, and always paid her bills on time, but her lips were turned down in a permanent frown. And when Rosemary left her diary on the kitchen table, Eleanor’s eyebrows pinched together, which added two new wrinkles to her face.

Rosemary had learned that people didn’t want to hear whether they’d be smooshed flat as a pancake by a very tall bus, or if they’d live to be eighty-eight before attempting to scuba dive with tiger sharks. So instead, she wrote them down. She was clever enough to know not to upset people, and resourceful enough to figure out how to express what she saw while keeping her mother happy. She often drew pictures to accompany the stories, which meant that she went through an awful lot of red crayons, then colored pencils, then rather fine watercolors and paints. Sometimes the unfortunate fates belonged to people she knew. Often, they were about people she didn’t. Sometimes she painted pleasant things, like unicorns beside pink buildings, a gaggle of boys at a carnival, or friends exploring the woods, but the bits and pieces of her imagination never gained quite as much at-tention as the grim parts of her.

And Eleanor, being a perfectly human woman, did not know how to make sense of Rosemary’s gift, though she thought perhaps some men in white coats could help. The house was warm with the smell of fresh cookies on August 27 of Rosemary’s twelfth year when a psychologist named Jeffrey and a nurse named Susan—though it isn’t important to remember their names—arrived. Her mother promised that she would go to a nice place, a rather prestigious hospital for unique teens and children. This sleepaway clinic, Eleanor said, had music lessons and orange juice and a barn filled with therapeutic horses. Rosemary would only have to take medi-cine three times a day, at least until she began making pictures of flowers and landscapes and sunsets. Flowers, Eleanor added, that were not atop a gravesite.

Our story doesn’t begin with Rosemary’s packed bags, or her mother’s tearful goodbye, or the house getting smaller and smaller as she watched it through the back window of Jeffrey’s car. It doesn’t begin with the soft jazz music playing through the speakers, or the fast-moving highway, or the carsickness that came with being in a vehicle with someone who changes lanes too often.

The story begins about three hours into their drive, when the doctor and nurse—who may or may not have been very nice people—pulled off the highway to pick up three cheeseburgers, a tub of curly fries, and a strawberry milkshake. It was then that Susan looked over her shoulder to find the back seat completely empty. And though they hadn’t stopped the car, and there had been nowhere for the girl to go, there was no doubt that Rosemary Thorpe had vanished.

Rosemary’s face joined the many posters of missing children that decorate police stations around the world. Jeffrey the psychologist and Susan the nurse lost their jobs, of course, as you cannot very well keep your titles if you misplace children. And Eleanor, though a very sweet woman, would forever hide the fact that some small part of her was relieved to no longer be responsible for a girl who thought so often of death.

Rosemary Thorpe was part human, you see. But she was also part other.

And now you know how we’ve arrived at the School for Wayward Fairies.

I suppose you can call me Fern, though it isn’t my name. The rest is forgettable, as this story is not about me. But as I am the one telling it, I think I’ll call the boarding school Fern’s School. Perhaps you know, or maybe you don’t: when you’re the one telling a secret, you can change any details you like. If the housemother sees I’ve taken credit for the school she’s built, I’m sure she’ll be rather upset. But I’m quite sure I’m safe. If she wants to correct me, she’ll have to announce to all the world that she is responsible for this wayward home. And this is something she’ll never do, for it is a secret.

Or it was, until now.

2

The Vanishing

Rosemary’s stomach made a whiny, grumbly noise to tell her it was time for food.

“Don’t worry.” Susan looked over her shoulder and smiled at Rosemary. “We’ll pull off at the next stop and get you something.”

Rosemary knew it would be polite to smile at the nurse, but she didn’t feel much like smiling. She continued to stare out the window, eyes unfocused as the Virginia pines and underbrush and oncoming traffic blurred along the highway. She was too hurt to cry, too angry to react, and too smart to bother with the who or why.

Because she knew why. And it wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that it had taken her a few years to understand the ins and outs of people and their expectations, but once she zipped her lips and stopped announc-ing people’s deaths, everything should have been fine. Yet her mother still chose to send her away, no matter how good she’d been or how hard she’d tried to be nor-mal.

So instead she watched the trees melt into shapeless colors beyond the window and imagined that she was free, that she was strong, and that she was running very, very fast alongside the car. She would have ignored Susan altogether had the woman not said something else.

“What?” Rosemary intended to ask. She opened her mouth to form the question, but the word was stolen when she saw that she, Jeffrey, and Susan were no longer the only three in the car.

She’d heard a woman’s voice, but Susan had not turned around. In fact, the nurse had not spoken at all. The trees were no longer smears of browns and greens, but were tall, distinguished trunks with perfectly still leaves. The cars on the highway stopped, frozen. And beside her sat someone brand-new who did not belong there at all.

“Neat trick, huh?” the woman said. Or, at least, Rosemary thought she was a woman. She was maybe twenty years old, or maybe thirteen. There was something about her face that made it impossible to tell if she was an adult or a child. She wore her flame-red hair in fantastical braids and had a generous splatter of freck-les across her nose and cheeks. And though it was a perfectly dry, sunny day, the entire car suddenly smelled like fresh, wet earth right after it rained.

“You froze time,” Rosemary said, her voice a low, breathless whisper.

The stranger grinned as if rather pleased with herself.

“Or . . . I fell asleep. That’s what happened, isn’t it?”

“Oh.” The woman’s lower lip pushed out sympathetically. She pouted at Rosemary. “I’m afraid it’s something far grander than that.”

There was no air in Rosemary’s lungs as she asked, “Who are you?”

The woman’s expression softened. “You can call me Fern. And I have an important question.”

Fern was probably waiting for a reaction, but Rosemary’s vision darted from one frozen object to the next while she struggled to make sense of things. Jeffrey still hadn’t moved. The cars remained stuck in their places. It was as if they were the only two people in the world who could speak, or move, or—

“What’s happening?”

“It’s a decision,” Fern said with a wink. She tapped a single finger against her chin, then pointed at Rosemary. “I’m here to ask you if you want to go with . . . Who are they again? Oh, that’s right, you’re headed to a hospital of sorts. I don’t know whether it’s a good one or a bad one.”

Rosemary shook her head so quickly that she made herself dizzy. “No,” she insist-ed.

“Well, let me finish,” Fern said. “We all get a choice.”

“No,” Rosemary repeated. She thought of hospitals, of their bright lights, of their multicolored pills, of their grown-ups in white coats with serious faces. She thought of her mother waving goodbye on the porch. She thought of what lay ahead and knew one thing for certain. “I’m not going with them.”

Fern frowned as she looked between the doctor, the nurse, and the girl. “No mat-ter what?”

“No matter what.”

3

Fairy Circle

Gone was the late-August heat, the car, Jeffrey the doctor, and Nurse Susan.

In its place was a rough and swirling spin containing neither up nor down.

It was as if Rosemary had been picked up by the back of her shirt and thrown across the earth. She closed her eyes as everything spun. Her stomach turned. She yelped as small rocks bit into her palms and knees. She heaved as she skidded to a stop on the ground. Rosemary struggled to catch her breath. The crisp air hurt, like dragging in a midwinter lungful when she’d been prepped for summer. She clutched at her chest and looked around wildly.

Moss. Roots. Soil. Feet. It wasn’t winter. It wasn’t summer, either. Wait, feet? Whose feet were they?

She craned her neck up to see a rather bored-looking man whose plump, youthful cheeks made his age difficult to determine. Quite like the freckled woman with the braids in the car, this newcomer could have been fifteen or forty-five for all Rose-mary knew. The man shoved his hands into his pockets and arched a brow expect-antly. Unlike the white lab coat and stubbly neck of the doctor, this man had tanned skin and slicked-back dark hair, and wore a flannel shirt that might be bet-ter for chopping wood than taking children to hospitals.

“Will you be standing on your own?” he asked. “Or should I send someone?”

She couldn’t decide if the second part was a threat or a question.

It was a dream. It had to be. Surely, Rosemary had fallen asleep while awaiting her cheeseburger and tumbled into a dreamscape that had no logic or sense or expla-nation.

She slowly righted herself, shifting her weight onto her knees, then rocking back onto her heels before fully soaking up her surroundings. Every tree was knotted, swirling and looping at odd angles, their branches reaching for the sky. Moss clung to some, splotches of lichen clinging to others. The space between trunks was ee-rie and clear, with nothing for miles in every direction. But there was something closer. . . .

Dots of red-and-white mushrooms bloomed before her. One, then three, five, ten . . . She rotated slowly as she realized there were too many around them to count, with her and the nameless man in the middle.

“Who are you?” Rosemary croaked, blinking in surprise at how raw her voice sounded. It was the second time she’d asked that question in ten minutes. “What’s going on? And where is the other one? Fern?”

“I’m Dante,” the man said. He extended a hand. Rosemary slipped her fingers over the stranger’s calloused palm as he helped her to her feet. Dante said, “And you won’t see Fern again. At least I hope not, unless there are unscheduled drop-offs.” Then, more to himself, he grumbled, “We weren’t even supposed to get you. With the world falling apart at the seams, she should know it’s the worst possible time to add a new student.”

Rosemary was speechless. Her entire life had been tilted on its side, and its con-tents had scattered across a strange forest floor. First, she was born into a home where everyone made her feel like she didn’t belong. Then her mother sent her away. Next, a fiery-haired woman froze time and shot her into the woods. Now a mysterious and rather cranky man was telling her she shouldn’t be here. She sucked in a breath as if to argue but didn’t know what she’d say. Maybe she’d stumbled into something she shouldn’t have. Maybe this stranger hoped she’d turn around and find her way back onto the West Virginia highway.

But she’d meant what she’d said to the woman in the back of Jeffrey’s car. She wasn’t going to the hospital. No matter what.

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