Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy longs for a better life. She lost her parents at age seven and her aunt at nine. Her uncle also enforces unfair rules. But Alyssa discovers something she has never thought existed before… magic. A wicked sorcerer hunts her down. He kidnaps her from her ordinary New Jersey town to Yanowic, an enchanted island in Fiji.
Alyssa is trapped in the country due to a giant shield covering it. She must defeat dangerous creatures and the evil wizard in order to leave. But with sorcerers and enchanted technology getting in her way, can Alyssa succeed?
What readers are saying about From Fights to Flaws:
“A Captivating, Fun and Clever Children's Book”
“Author Sunayna Prasad creates a ground-to-sky alternative universe of magic, wonder and treachery that her protagonist falls into after wishing to escape the all too real life of her strict uncle's household.”
“Readers who enjoy all things mystical, magical and other-worldly will love this story.”
“An incredibly fun venture into a world full of wizards, flying things, spells, and magicians good and bad.”
“This ranks right up there with Harry Potter for me! I love it!”
READ AN EXCERPT!
Rain banged against the window. Alyssa looked up from washing her lunch dishes and stared at it. At least she could daydream while no one else noticed. After all, how else would she spend life without family fun—or even love?
Her uncle enforced strict and unfair rules. Alyssa longed for the kind of life she’d lived before her parents had died in a car crash five years ago. She’d only been seven at that time, and now she couldn’t experience things like many children her age.
Unless . . . she could find her godfather’s phone number and secretly call him. She hadn’t talked to him ever since she’d also lost her aunt three years ago. But she recalled his kind attitude. Her parents had even designated him as a legal guardian.
But something seemed off with the raindrops. They turned grayish blue and darkened into black, looking as if ink fell from the sky. Alyssa leaned closer, squinting to determine the shapes it formed on the window. The rain formed—letters. No. That couldn’t happen. But a message formed as the rain plopped on other parts of the window. Nature couldn’t change its laws, right?
Yet, the message finished putting itself together. Alyssa gasped at what it said.
Your life will never be the same again, Alyssa McCarthy, as magic will interfere.
What? Alyssa had never believed in magic. She’d been told at a young age that it hadn’t existed. Everyone on Orion Street was ordinary—at least, Alyssa had thought that ever since she’d moved here, right after her parents’ deaths.
Turning around, she saw her babysitter, Mrs. Hutchinson, examine the kitchen floor. Alyssa’s eleven-year-old cousin, Hailey, watched the progress. Hailey had mopped the floor. Would she earn a break now? Ever since her uncle, Bruce, had hired Mrs. Hutchinson, Mrs. Hutchinson had admired the way Hailey had done her chores more than Alyssa.
“Hailey, you can take a break until your next chore,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, get back to work. You’ve been staring at the rain for too long.”
“Okay.” Alyssa turned back—only to see the message gone and the rain back to its normal transparency.
“What did I say?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.
Alyssa sighed. “Fine, I’ll finish washing the dishes.”
She scrubbed her dish and glass with soap under warm running water. Her eyes focused on just those. No way would she want Mrs. Hutchinson to catch her looking out the window again. Mrs. Hutchinson was only in her sixties, but she’d sometimes seem to forget that was 2010 and not 1960 with her guidelines. Yet, it had taken Alyssa a while to realize that she wouldn’t even tolerate the mildest kind of nonsense, such as getting distracted by a windowpane when having to perform chores.
Now that she finished washing her dishes, Alyssa put them to the side and grabbed some paper towels to dry them.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Mrs. Hutchinson asked.
Alyssa stopped. “I’m just—”
“The last few times I was here, you left little bits of food on your dishes.”
“But they were stuck.”
“Let me inspect them. Also, if something is rubbery, you have to wash it again.”
“Because clean dishes aren’t supposed to be rubbery. And boy, did you do such a sloppy job. Look at that stain on your sweater.”
Alyssa looked down.
“That looks like chocolate.”
Alyssa blushed and arched her eyebrows. “Hey—it’s just water.” She covered the stain at the bottom of her sweater’s V-neck.
But Mrs. Hutchinson waved her index finger. “Don’t you ‘hey’ me, Alyssa. That’s rude. In my days, kids respected their elders. We never would dare talk to them that way unless we didn’t mind them smacking our bottoms.”
“Not when I’m here, they don’t. Now let me do my inspection.”
Great—an inspection! How long would Mrs. Hutchinson take? She might spend a couple minutes or maybe twenty. Alyssa crossed her arms and tapped her foot. She wanted her break now. She wished to read, rest, do a small craft, like lanyards—anything but wait for Mrs. Hutchinson to finish her task.
“Mrs. Hutchinson?” Alyssa asked.
“Whatever you need to say, wait till I’m done,” she said.
Alyssa sighed. She continued to watch Mrs. Hutchinson run her finger down the middle of the front of the dish. She then rubbed it back and forth. When she put it down and nodded, Alyssa figured out that the dish had nothing on it.
Mrs. Hutchinson spent a few minutes of running her finger down the glass. She put it down and turned to Alyssa. “You’re good. Now what did you want to tell me?”
“Um . . . if I tell you, can you not give me a hard time?”
“There was writing on the window.”
Mrs. Hutchinson pursed her lips and tilted her head. “Really?”
“No, really, it was there.”
“There was nothing there when I came, and there’s nothing there right now. So don’t tell me stories.”
“But it’s not a story.”
“I don’t want to hear any more. Now it’s time for your next chore.”
“Aw, but I wanted my break.”
“Too bad. You have to go vacuum the living room.”
Alyssa dragged her feet toward the living room and took the vacuum from the corner. She cleaned and thought about that writing as well as how Mrs. Hutchinson wouldn’t believe her. Would a nicer babysitter have believed her? Mrs. Hutchinson had watched her and Hailey for three years, and not once had she smiled or assisted with anything.
After vacuuming the carpet for about five minutes, Alyssa decided that she had tidied the floor enough. So she stopped and put the vacuum away.
“Hailey, you and Alyssa need to go get the mail now!” Mrs. Hutchinson called, facing the staircase.
“Coming!” cried Hailey.
Another rule Uncle Bruce had placed on Alyssa and Hailey was they could only go outside together. He worried about people taking them or something, even though Alyssa would turn thirteen next month. But that rule had been placed because a few months ago, Uncle Bruce had heard about a seventeen-year-old boy who had been shot while skateboarding in his neighborhood. Violence could even happen here in Bursnell, New Jersey.
Hailey and Alyssa headed to the closet and put their raincoats on until Mrs. Hutchinson said, “It stopped raining outside.”
“Already?” asked Alyssa.
“Yes.” Mrs. Hutchinson went to the bathroom.
The girls walked outside toward the mailbox. Alyssa pulled the mail and headed back toward the door. But mud bubbled from the ground near the house. It piled up, looking like horse manure, and grew as more soil emerged. Alyssa dropped her jaw and stared at it.
“Alyssa, what’s going on?” Hailey asked.
“No idea,” said Alyssa.
The dirt stopped piling up, but it continued to bubble, and the effects spread throughout the whole pile. The bubbles stopped popping up and down. Alyssa and Hailey gasped as they expanded. They kept their mouths open as the bubbles merged together, each one attached to another, forming a single bigger shape. Alyssa and Hailey stepped back as the now giant bubble swelled. And it . . . popped! Particles of exploding mud landed on the girls. They shrieked.
The front door opened to reveal a glowering Mrs. Hutchinson. “What the heck have you two been doing?”
“T-the mud . . . it e-exploded,” said Hailey.
“Nonsense!” growled Mrs. Hutchinson. “Get inside!”
The girls returned inside, pulling and wiping the mud out of their hair. Alyssa could spot the mud in her straight pale-blonde tresses, unlike Hailey, who likely needed more patience to search for globs in her elbow-length red locks. But Alyssa’s hair fell a few inches past her hips, so cleaning out the mud would take longer, even with the shorter layers in the front.
“How could dirt explode?” Mrs. Hutchinson stomped.
“I-I think it was magic!” exclaimed Alyssa.
“There’s no such thing as magic!” screamed Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, you’re twelve years old. You’re too old to say things like that!”
“But nothing else can make mud explode!” Alyssa said.
“Mrs. Hutchinson, we swear it did!” whined Hailey.
“Enough!” snapped Mrs. Hutchinson. “You and Hailey—go upstairs and take showers!”
Alyssa followed Hailey up the stairs and heaved a sigh. How else would the mud have splattered all over them? Mrs. Hutchinson couldn’t have thought they’d play in the mud like small children.
“Alyssa, can I shower first?” asked Hailey.
“Sure,” said Alyssa.
As Hailey strode into the bathroom, Alyssa walked into her room. She scratched more mud off her skinny jeans (the only jeans she’d worn ever since they’d come into style) and the back of her hand. She stood by her bed since she wanted to keep it clean.
She considered the writing on the window and the exploding mud. Someone wanted magic to interfere with her life, but who, and how come?
Also, why hadn’t she ever seen wizardry before? Why would her parents and others tell her that it hadn’t existed? Did sorcery just start on earth? Had it hidden somewhere? There had to be some reason why no one had ever believed in it.
Alyssa thought about the possibility that maybe magic might only interfere if she stayed here in her uncle’s house. Maybe if her godfather could arrange with his lawyer to let her move in with him, sorcery would hopefully leave her alone. However, unlike science, anything could occur with magic, which meant that it could follow her wherever she went.
The sound produced by the bathroom’s running water ended, which let Alyssa know that Hailey had finished. Now she could have a turn.
After about five minutes showering, Alyssa stepped out and headed back to her room. She put on leggings and a long shirt. But she gasped at something appearing out of nowhere on her bed. Now that had to have come from . . . magic.
Approaching it, she saw that it was a folded piece of paper. She opened it and read it.
Hello Alyssa McCarthy,
You must be wondering about the writing on your window, the exploding mud, and the note that appeared here. Who was responsible for them? You’ll find out at some point.
Anonymous? How dare someone create incidents and not say his or her name! Alyssa needed to know his or her identity in order to report him or her. She didn’t want strange, magical occurrences to keep happening.
Regardless of that, now she had proof to Mrs. Hutchinson that the writing and exploding mud had occurred. Mrs. Hutchinson had seen her write before, and this looked nothing like hers. She handwrote in a half-print and half-script style. This, however, was pure print.
Alyssa jogged down the stairs and carried the note. “Mrs. Hutchinson, I have something to show you.”
“Not right now, Alyssa.” Mrs. Hutchinson left the kitchen. “You and Hailey have to go wash my car.”
“But it’s quick.”
“You can show me after you’re done with my car.” Mrs. Hutchinson turned to Hailey, who emptied the dishwasher and put dishes away. “Are you almost done?”
“I think so,” said Hailey.
“How many dishes do you have left?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.
“Uh . . .” Hailey looked at the top rack. “Four.”
“Okay, hurry up.” Mrs. Hutchinson turned to Alyssa. “Why don’t you go put that piece of paper away?”
“But this is what I need to show you.”
“Do I have to repeat what I said before?”
“Alyssa, do as you’re told.” Mrs. Hutchinson pointed to the staircase.
Alyssa sighed. This note contained so much crucial information. Only that paper itself had evidence to show that those incidents had occurred.
After putting the note back in her room, Alyssa headed down the stairs and walked with Hailey toward the garage. The two grabbed sponges, buckets, and soap for washing cars. They filled the buckets with water and scrubbed Mrs. Hutchinson’s car.
“I wish we had another babysitter,” muttered Alyssa.
“What was on the piece of paper?” asked Hailey.
Alyssa told her.
“Who wrote it?”
“There was no name on it. Just ‘anonymous.’”
A girl whistling turned Alyssa’s attention away from the car. She leaned her head toward the sidewalk and saw her friend from grade school, Madison Jennings, riding her scooter.
“Hi, Alyssa,” said Madison. The wind blew her long dark-brown waves across her face. She stopped at Alyssa’s driveway, and her hair went limp. Hailey and Alyssa ran up to greet her and ask how she’d been.
“I just moved onto Draco Drive a few days ago,” Madison referred to a road off Orion Street.
“So how do you like the middle school?” asked Alyssa.
“Oh, I go to Catholic school now,” said Madison. “What about you?”
“Hailey and I are homeschooled now,” said Alyssa. “I never got to tell you.”
“That’s okay,” said Madison. “So you guys want to come over to my house on Saturday?”
“What time?” asked Alyssa.
“I’ll ask my mom and let you know,” said Madison. “Okay, bye, guys. Nice seeing you again.” She rode back in the direction she’d come from as Hailey and Alyssa waved goodbye to her.
After washing the car for another ten minutes, Alyssa and Hailey cleaned up and walked back inside. A snore suggested to Alyssa that Mrs. Hutchinson slept. Huh? She never napped while babysitting.
Alyssa strode toward the living room and saw Mrs. Hutchinson asleep on one of the couches. Hailey followed her. “Why is Mrs. Hutchinson sleeping?”
“I don’t know,” said Alyssa.
“Can you show me the note?”
Alyssa nodded and led her up the stairs. She opened her door but gasped at what she saw. The note that she’d left on her bed was gone.
“Where’s the note?” asked Hailey.
“It was right there,” Alyssa pointed to the bed.
But another piece of paper appeared onto the mattress. Alyssa picked it up and read it.
Hello again, Alyssa,
I have put your babysitter to sleep to reveal magic to you. You’ll find out why she is sleeping later.
“Not again,” mumbled Alyssa. “Why won’t they say their name?” She showed the note to Hailey.
“Let’s go call my dad before anything happens,” said Hailey.
How much worse could this get? Alyssa thought as she followed Hailey down the stairs.