The Shadow Thieves (The Cronus Chronicles)

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9781416905875: The Shadow Thieves (The Cronus Chronicles)

See that girl, the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That's Charlotte Mielswetzski. And something extra-ordinary is about to happen to her.

Oh, it's not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere and demands to go home with her. It's not the sudden arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he's the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. It's not her creepy English teacher Mr. Metos, who takes his mythology lessons just a little too seriously. And it's not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedoes, who follow Charlotte everywhere.

What's so extraordinary is not any one of these things....It's all of them. And when Charlotte's friends start to get sick one by one, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood.

Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person -- living and dead -- is in their young hands.

In her dazzling debut for young readers, Anne Ursu weaves a tale of myth and adventure, danger and magic that will keep readers engrossed until the very last secret is revealed.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Anne Ursu is the author of The Shadow Thieves, The Siren Song, and The Immortal Fire, all books in the Cronus Chronicles series. She has also written novels for adults. Anne teaches at Hamline University's Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children for Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her son and cats.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Charlotte

Pay attention. Watch carefully, now. Look at the sidewalk, there. See that girl -- the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That's Charlotte Mielswetzski. (Say it with me: Meals-wet-ski. Got it? If not, say it again: Meals. Wet. Ski. There. You thought your name was bad?) And something extraordinary is about to happen to her.

No, the extraordinary event will not be related to that man watching her behind the oak tree...that oddly pale, strangely thin, freakishly tall, yellow-eyed, bald-headed man in the tuxedo. (And while we're at it, why on Earth would anyone be wearing a tuxedo at four o'clock on an unseasonably warm October afternoon? And if you are going to wear such an outfit at such a time on such a day, surely it is not because you are going to hide behind oak trees to spy on small, pale, freckled thirteen-year-old redheaded girls with bulging backpacks, is it? Because that would be really strange.) But regardless, it's not about him, not yet. He will come later. Forget him. Focus on Charlotte. Charlotte is walking home from school, and she is in a very bad mood.

Of course, this has all already happened, there is nothing we can do about any of it now, alas -- so if we're to be accurate, we should say: Charlotte was walking home from school in a very bad mood while the four-o'clock sun cast long shadows over the sidewalk, entirely unaware of the white-skinned, yellow-eyed man in the tuxedo watching her from behind the oak tree.

And no, the bad mood was not, in itself, extraordinary. At the time you could often find Charlotte with a black cloud hanging over her head -- though a purely metaphorical one -- what with the new school year and the piles of homework and the creepy new English teacher and the tremendously banal classmates, and today her mood was even worse than usual, given that the cast list for the school play had been posted and her name was distinctly not on it and she hadn't been planning on trying out for the stupid thing because she knew she wouldn't get cast and then she did try out, and see? So if Charlotte seemed extremely grumpy -- if she was, in fact, muttering to herself darkly -- you would have to forgive her. As for the dark mutterings, they would have been hard to decipher if you had been, say, hiding behind a tree spying on her, but we know they went something like this:

"Once upon a time there was a girl named Charlotte who suffered from a terrible curse. She didn't know how or why she'd been cursed, but she did know that nothing good ever, ever, ever happened to her."

You get the point. So anyway, there she was, walking along in an ordinary way, muttering to herself about curses, with her bursting backpack and her metaphorical black cloud and her ordinary bad mood -- when something extraordinary happened.

A kitten appeared in front of her.

Not -- poof! -- not like that. Nothing magical at all. Quite ordinary, in fact. A normal chain of events, just what you would expect with a sudden appearance of a kitten. There was this high-pitched squeaking from the bushes and then this flurry of motion, and just as Charlotte was processing these events, suddenly there -- directly in her path, right in her shadow, in fact -- stood a blue-eyed gray and white kitten.

Charlotte stopped. The kitten stared at Charlotte. Charlotte stared at the kitten. The kitten cocked its head.

"Hi!" said Charlotte, her green eyes softening.

"Meow," said the kitten.

And Charlotte, being of sound mind, reached down and petted the kitten. She scratched it under its chin, then behind the ears for good measure, and then she started on her way home.

"Bye, kitty," called Charlotte.

"Meow!" said the kitten. And the next thing Charlotte knew, the kitten was standing in front of her again, blocking her path and meowing rather insistently.

"Now, kitty," said Charlotte, "I have to go home. Do you have any idea how much homework I have? You should go home too."

The kitten looked at her blankly. Charlotte began to walk on, but once again the kitten ran up and stood in front of her. Charlotte tilted her head and considered. The kitten was awfully skinny.

"Do you have a home?" asked Charlotte uncertainly.

"Meow," said the kitten.

That seemed like a no. Charlotte regarded the kitten frankly. The kitten, in turn, regarded her. There seemed to be only one thing to do.

"Would you like to come home with me?" asked Charlotte.

"Meow," said the kitten.

So that was that. Charlotte picked up the blue-eyed gray and white kitten, tucked it under her thin, pale, freckly arm, and headed home, suddenly feeling that the world was perhaps not so tiresome, if you only looked hard enough.

Now, stray kittens are not, in themselves, an extra-ordinary phenomenon. And given events that were to follow, finding one would seem positively mundane. But if you were Charlotte, and you had been feeling that life was some cosmic joke that had no punch line, and in the space of a moment you had gone from being Charlotte-without-a-kitten to being Charlotte-with-a-kitten, you too would have found it nothing short of remarkable. (Even if you did not notice that as soon as you picked up the kitten, the man in the inappropriate tuxedo shook his head slowly and skulked off into the shadows.)

When Charlotte arrived home, she found her parents seated in the kitchen, talking. This was not unusual; Charlotte's father taught at the high school and was often home when she got there, and her mother worked from an office on the second floor of the Mielswetzski house for half of the week. Charlotte's mother was a child psychologist who wrote books on adolescence and was very concerned with Charlotte's well-being. This was not always as advantageous as it sounds.

For instance, just last week Charlotte had come home from school to find her mother perched all too casually in the kitchen, pretending she was not, in fact, waiting for Charlotte. But she totally was. Charlotte knew the signs; her mother was not casual about anything.

That day the topic of conversation was, not surprisingly, Charlotte and her attitude. Said topic was a particular favorite of Charlotte's mom's; no one in the history of the world ever liked to talk about anything as much as Charlotte's mom liked to talk about Charlotte's attitude. Charlotte thought her mother should be given some kind of plaque or something, or maybe there should be a statue -- except the statue would probably want to talk about Charlotte's attitude too.

So anyway, when Charlotte got home from school that day, her mother just happened to be sitting in the kitchen reading, and the kitchen was not really that comfortable a place to be reading, but that's beside the point. And when her mother offered to make her a snack, Charlotte thought for a moment about pretending she had somewhere else to be, but she knew the best thing to do would be to let her make the snack and get this over with.

"So, Char...," her mother said casually, unscrewing the peanut butter lid. "I hear the school play auditions are coming up...."

How did she possibly hear that? Charlotte wondered. One thing about her mother is she has way too many friends.

"Are you thinking of auditioning?" she asked, opening the box of crackers.

Charlotte raised an eyebrow. Hi, Mom, have we met?

"Because I thought maybe you should," she said, spreading the peanut butter on the crackers. "You used to love acting when you were little." She smiled and brought Charlotte the plate.

Charlotte shrugged. "Aw, Mom, I'd never get in."

"Char, honey, how would you know unless you tried?" she said, sitting down opposite her daughter. "You should try!"

"I just know, Mom," she grumbled, tossing her long hair. It was true. In elementary school Charlotte had loved drama class, had loved being in the school plays, and had even gone to a summer day camp where they learned some of the songs from Annie. And then she got to middle school and auditioned for the play and the choir and tried out for the softball and gymnastics teams and didn't get in any of them. That was enough of that. Charlotte could see very quickly where the bread was buttered; she might be a loser, but she was no idiot. The world gave you enough disappointment without actually going out and asking for it.

"I know you're upset about not getting in before," her mom continued, "but you were a sixth grader then, and they rarely cast sixth graders. You're in eighth grade now. You should try. What's the harm in trying?"

Charlotte shrugged.

"Honey" -- Mrs. Mielswetzski leaned in and grabbed Charlotte's hands -- "if only you could see what I see! You're so bright and talented. You can do whatever you set your mind on doing. The whole world is your oyster."

Charlotte sighed inwardly. She knew her mother was serious when she started referring to shellfish. What did that mean, anyway? What's so great about the world being your oyster? Does that mean it's really hard to open, and when you do, you have something slimy and gross on the inside?

"Char, I just wish, sometimes...that you'd try a little harder. In everything. I feel like you're always running away from things. I wish you'd live your life, really go out there and live it. All your teachers say you have so much potential. If you'd just...use it."

Charlotte had to restrain herself from rolling her eyes. Teachers loved to say people had potential; that's what teachers did to keep themselves from getting canned. What were they supposed to say -- I'm sorry, your kid has no promise whatsoever? She's utterly mediocre in every way?

"It would be fun to be in a play, wouldn't it?" Mrs. Mielswetzski continued. "You could meet some new people."

Charlotte grimaced. Meeting new people had been another one...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2006. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. See that girl, the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That s Charlotte Mielswetzski. And something extra-ordinary is about to happen to her. Oh, it s not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere and demands to go home with her. It s not the sudden arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he s the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. It s not her creepy English teacher Mr. Metos, who takes his mythology lessons just a little too seriously. And it s not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedoes, who follow Charlotte everywhere. What s so extraordinary is not any one of these things.It s all of them. And when Charlotte s friends start to get sick one by one, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood. Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person -- living and dead -- is in their young hands. In her dazzling debut for young readers, Anne Ursu weaves a tale of myth and adventure, danger and magic that will keep readers engrossed until the very last secret is revealed. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781416905875

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2006. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. See that girl, the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That s Charlotte Mielswetzski. And something extra-ordinary is about to happen to her. Oh, it s not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere and demands to go home with her. It s not the sudden arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he s the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. It s not her creepy English teacher Mr. Metos, who takes his mythology lessons just a little too seriously. And it s not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedoes, who follow Charlotte everywhere. What s so extraordinary is not any one of these things.It s all of them. And when Charlotte s friends start to get sick one by one, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood. Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person -- living and dead -- is in their young hands. In her dazzling debut for young readers, Anne Ursu weaves a tale of myth and adventure, danger and magic that will keep readers engrossed until the very last secret is revealed. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9781416905875

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