Read The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3) Online

Authors: Michael Buckley

Tags: #YA, #Fantasy

The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3)

BOOK: The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3)
4.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Acknowledgments

What can I say to my editor, Susan Van Metre, other than "Bless you"? You made my dream come true and you whipped that dream into shape for others to share. Everyone at Amulet Books was just wonderful, most notably Andrea Colvin and Jason Wells. I'd also like to thank my wife and literary agent, Alison Fargis of The Stonesong Press, for being my inspiration in words and in life. Thanks to Joseph Deasy, whose support, editing, and brainstorming have been the backbone of these stories. Thanks to my personal cheerleaders, Molly Choi and Maureen Falvey, and to Kevin Houser, Christopher Andreoli, and Sherriene Jones Sontag for their incredible generosity toward me in college. I'd also like to thank the Brothers Grimm, Andrew Lang, Hans Christian Andersen, L. Frank Baum, Rudyard Kipling, and the countless others from whom I have generously borrowed; and of course Daisy, who now, unfortunately, is going to get that bath I've been threatening for some time.

For the kids,
Dominic, Kierra, Kiah, Tuliad, Siena, and Dan-Dan
Prologue

He descended from the clouds like an angel,
enveloped in a ray of light so brilliant that Sabrina and Daphne had to shield their eyes and look away. When he landed nimbly on the ground and smiled at the group, the light dimmed just enough so that they could see his face. The man he had been just moments before was gone, his flesh replaced by shimmering crystal, his. eyes by blazing fires, like two small suns shining down on them all. But when he glanced over at Sabrina, she saw that his transformation hadn't robbed him of his quirky, mischievous grin. He stepped toward her with extended arms, and she stumbled back in fear. His smile quickly turned to a frown.

"What are you doing?" Sabrina demanded.

"I'm granting myself a wish," he answered. "I wanted to be powerful enough to make the people I love happy. I've been miserable. Happy is better. You can be happy, too. Wish for something, Sabrina. Anything. I can make it happen."

"But look at the cost!" Granny Relda said as she hovered over Mayor Charming's rapidly aging body. His beloved Snow White lay next to him, reaching with bony, arthritic hands to touch his wrinkled face. Everywhere Sabrina looked, Everafters lay struggling against the sudden onrush of old age. Many were in the final throes of death.

"Don't cry for them," the glittery being said to the old woman. "The Everafters have had their day in the sun and it was a long, long day. With their power I can recreate this world as a paradise where 'happily ever after' isn't just for a bunch of bedtime stories come to life. It's time for all our dreams to come true!"

Chapter 1

abrina opened her eyes and saw a monster hunched over her. It was nearly fifteen feet tall, with scaly skin, two black leathery wings, and a massive serpentine tail that lashed back and forth. Its feet and hands were enormous, nearly as big as its body, and its head, at the end of a long snakelike neck, was nothing but teeth, thousands of jagged fangs, gnashing in her face. A drop of saliva dripped from the creature's mouth and landed on her forehead. It was as hot as molten lava. 'JABBERWOCKY! "the monster roared.

Too afraid to move, Sabrina closed her eyes and did the only thing she could. She prayed.

Please! Please! Please! Let this be a bad dream!

After a few moments she slowly lifted one eyelid. Unfortunately, the monster was still there. "Fudge," Sabrina whispered.

"Well, good morning!"

A boy's voice called from somewhere in the room. Sabrina knew its owner. "Puck?"

"Did we wake you? So sorry!"

"Could you get this thing off of me?" said Sabrina. "It's gonna cost you."

"What?"

"I figure if I'm going to have to save your butt every time you get into trouble, I might as well be paid for it. The going rate for this kind of job is seven million dollars," Puck said.

"Where am I going to get seven million dollars? I'm eleven years old!"

"And I want all your desserts for the next six months," Puck added.

The monster roared in Sabrina's face. A long, purple tongue darted out of the beast's mouth and licked her face roughly. "Fine!" Sabrina cried.

Puck leaped into the air, flipping like an Olympic gymnast, and clung to a dusty light fixture hanging from the ceiling above. Gathering momentum, he swung down feet first into the monster's horrible face. The creature stumbled back and roared. Using the monster's face as a springboard, the nimble boy flipped again and landed on his feet with his hands on his hips. He turned to Sabrina and flashed her a mischievous grin, then pulled her to her feet. "Did you see that landing, Grimm? I want to make sure you get your money's worth."

Sabrina scowled. "How long was I unconscious?" she asked. Her head was still pounding from the smack the beast had given her upon her arrival.

"Long enough for me to get old big-and-ugly here pretty angry," Puck said as the brute recovered and rushed at the children at an impossible speed.

Two enormous pink-streaked wings popped out of Puck's back and fluttered wildly. Before Sabrina knew it, he had snatched the back of her coat and was pulling her into the air, narrowly avoiding the beast's attack. The wall they had just been standing in front of wasn't so lucky. The force of the monster's assault sent it crashing down.

"I've got the big one," Puck said as he set Sabrina back down on the floor. "You take the little one."

Sabrina followed his gaze. In the far corner of the room was a small child wearing a long red cloak that hung to her ankles. She sat on a dirty hospital cot next to the unconscious bodies of two adults, Henry and Veronica Grimm--Sabrina's parents!

How Sabrina had gotten into this particular situation was a long, and almost unbelievable, story. It started a year and a half ago when her mother and father had mysteriously disappeared. The only clue the police had found was a bloodred handprint pressed on the dashboard of their abandoned car. With nothing else to go on and no next-of-kin to step in as guardians, the police were forced to put Sabrina and her six-year-old sister, Daphne, into foster care. That's when things went from bad to worse. The girls were bounced from one foster home to the next, each filled with certifiable lunatics who used Sabrina and Daphne as maids, gardeners, and once, as a couple of amateur roofers. By the time their long-lost grandmother had finally tracked them down, Sabrina didn't think she could ever trust anyone again. Granny Relda didn't make it easy, either. They hadn't been in the old woman's house ten minutes before she started telling incredible stories about the girls being the last living descendents of the Brothers Grimm whose book of fairy tales, she claimed, wasn't a collection of bedtime stories but a history of actual events. Granny Relda also told them that their new hometown, Ferryport Landing, was filled to the brim with characters straight from fairy tales, who now called themselves Everafters and lived side by side with the normal inhabitants of the town, albeit in magical disguises that hid their true identities.

To Sabrina, Granny's stories sounded like the silly ravings of a woman who had forgotten to have her prescriptions filled, but there was a dark side to her story as well. These "Everafters" didn't just live in the town--they were trapped there. Wilhelm, the younger of the Brothers Grimm, had put a spell on the town to prevent the Everafters from leaving and waging war on humans. The spell could only be broken when the last member of the Grimm family died. Sabrina warned her sister that the old woman's stories were nonsense, but when Relda was kidnapped by a two-hundred-foot-tall giant, Sabrina could no longer deny the truth. Luckily, the girls found a way to rescue their grandmother and ever since they had taken on the family responsibility of being fairy-tale detectives, solving the town's most unusual crimes, and going head-to-head with some of its most dangerous residents. As they solved one mystery after another, the girls had started to uncover a disturbing pattern. Every bad guy they had faced was a member of a shadowy group known as the Scarlet Hand, whose mark was a bloodred handprint just like the one the police had found in Sabrina and

Daphne's parents' car! Sabrina knew one day she would come face-to-face with the group's leader and her parents' kidnapper, and now, as she stared at the strange little girl in the red cloak, she was shocked. She had never thought the person behind all her misery would be a child.

BOOK: The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3)
4.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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