Read an Excerpt
Who's That Ghoulfriend?
By Gitty Daneshvari
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2013 Gitty Daneshvari
All rights reserved.
Wax splashed softly against the cold stone floor as six fashionably clad feet tiptoed along a candlelit corridor. Left, right, left, right—the rot-iron heels, copper boots, and wedge sneakers moved in military-like unison. Quiet but for the faint sounds of a storm raging outside, an eerie tension gripped the space. Flames flickered fitfully, condensation clung to the windows, and the unmistakable scent of staleness flourished. A smooth green hand emerged from the darkness, grabbed hold of a tarnished brass doorknob, and pulled. High-pitched squeals erupted from the rusted hinges as the attic door opened, revealing a dark stairwell.
"Whether by fate or by choice, ever since our arrival at Monster High, we've found ourselves protecting the school. But tonight I think we can all agree that the stakes have been raised," Venus McFlytrap, the daughter of the plant monster, said somberly, her jade complexion and bright pink-and-green hair shimmering in the candlelight. "So before we go up there, I just want to know one thing. Are you ready?"
"For clarification's sake, when you ask if we're ready, are you referring to finding Headmistress Bloodgood, thwarting the anonymous forces wishing to control Monster High, or confronting the spider ghoul in the attic?" Rochelle Goyle, a petite gargoyle from Scaris, inquired in her usual formal manner.
"I'm pretty sure they're all connected ... somehow. But seeing as we're seconds away from heading into the attic, I'd say the spider ghoul is the most important," Venus responded as the vines around her arms bristled with nervous anticipation.
"Spider ghouls have always fascinated me. With six hands they are natural multitaskers. They can simultaneously brush their hair, floss their teeth, apply makeup, type an e-mail, carry a handbag, and pet the dog. If you ask me, it's très impressive," Rochelle said as she lifted one of her granite hands in the air. "Of course, having said that, depending on the spider ghoul's disposition, six hands could also make her a very lively adversary. She could literally throw a stapler, a Casketball, a book, a lamp, an iCoffin, and a shoe at us—all at the same time."
"Bottom line, Rochelle, yes or no?" Venus tried to make her loquacious friend focus.
"Yes," Rochelle replied as she pulled her long pink mane with teal streaks into a bun, showcasing her small stone wings in the process. "By the way, paragraph 13.3 of the Gargoyle Code of Ethics clearly states that when in the company of candles, long-haired ghouls must pull their hair back to avoid follicular fires."
"I'll be sure to try and remember that," Venus said carefully before turning to Robecca Steam, a beautiful blue-and-black-haired ghoul crafted from a copper steam engine by her mad-scientist father. "What about you, Becs? Are you ready?"
"You needn't worry if you didn't bring the proper hair accessories. I always carry extra rubber bands and scarves," Rochelle interrupted. "They may not match your outfits, but as we say in Scaris, la securité avant la mode, safety before fashion!"
"Thank you, Rochelle," Venus barked dismissively, and then raised her eyebrows at Robecca. "Well?"
"Of course, ideally, one would have both safety and fashion," Rochelle once again interjected.
"Rochelle! Enough about candles and hair and fashion! In case you haven't noticed I'm trying to talk to Robecca!" Venus exploded in exasperation.
"Boo-la-la, no need to get your pollens pumping. I was only trying to help," Rochelle chastised Venus, who promptly rolled her eyes in response.
"So, Becs? Are you ready?" Venus once again asked her friend.
"Jeepers creepers! Ready feels like an awfully strong word. I think sort of ready or kind of ready is more appropriate," Robecca babbled as small clouds of steam puffed from her copper-covered ears.
"Robecca, if you cannot accompany us to the attic, you needn't worry. Venus and I can handle it," Rochelle explained calmly. "Or, to be precise, I am sixty- eight to seventy-five percent certain that we can handle it."
"Sometimes I think you just make all these statistics up," Venus mumbled under her breath.
"Ce n'est pas vrai! A gargoyle is nothing if not honest with her statistics," Rochelle huffed, and then grabbed Robecca's warm metallic arm. "Now then, we shouldn't be gone too long."
"Oh no! You misunderstood me," said Robecca. "I might not be ready, but I'm definitely coming with you ghouls. How could I not? We're Headmistress Bloodgood's only chance!"
So much had happened in the short time that Robecca, Rochelle, and Venus had been at Monster High. Why, only the semester before, the threesome had battled the Whisper, a powerful spell that robbed students and teachers alike of their ability to think for themselves. And though the perpetrator of the Whisper, Miss Flapper, claimed to have been under a spell as well, the threesome remained unconvinced of her innocence. However, they were the only ones.
By the start of the following semester, it had appeared as though everyone at Monster High had forgotten about Miss Flapper using the Whisper to control the school. Even the appearance of dolls of doom and fluffy white cats—traditionally considered signs of bad luck—hardly elicited a response from the student body. In fact, it was not until the arrival of notes and graffiti warning of an ominous "them" that alarms were sounded. Yet even so, Miss Flapper continued to avoid the shadow of suspicion. At least until tonight ...
High winds, pounding rain, and splintering strands of lightning had barreled through Salem, knocking out the power and stranding students and staff on the Monster High campus. Eager to keep her captive campers entertained, Headmistress Bloodgood had allowed the Hex Factor Talon Show to go on as planned. However, at 9 PM sharp, the show took a most unexpected turn when a DeadEx zombie arrived. The slow-moving courier delivered a letter, which shortly thereafter was read to the student body and teachers: Headmistress Bloodgood had been taken by normies and would not be returned until a wall was erected around Salem—effectively imprisoning the town!
As fear and anxiety swept through the school, blogger Spectra Vondergeist had made a shocking confession to Robecca, Rochelle, and Venus. Having spotted Miss Flapper sneaking into the attic on numerous occasions, the violet-haired ghost had decided to check out the oft-forgotten space for herself. And though Spectra hadn't a clue what to expect, she was rather surprised to find a slumbering spider ghoul up there.
The sound of shuffling feet captured the ghouls' attention, instantly waking them from their recollections of the events earlier that evening.
"Hey," a soft male voice called out.
Cy Clops, a tall and lanky boy, stepped into the faint pool of light cast by Robecca's, Rochelle's, and Venus's candles. With his shoulders slightly hunched, the naturally timid Cyclops flashed his friends and dormmates a quick smile. Having weathered the Whisper and its aftermath with the trio, Cy had more than proven himself a trustworthy friend.
"Oh, Cy! You're here!" Robecca squealed happily as she threw one arm around the one-eyed boy's shoulders and squeezed.
Cy's normally alabaster cheeks turned pink at the touch of his faithful crush Robecca.
"I hardly think this reunion warrants so much enthusiasm. You only left Cy ten minutes ago," Venus remarked wryly to Robecca.
"Cy, were you able to locate Madame Flapper?" Rochelle inquired as she tapped her granite claws against the base of her candle.
Bits of wax splattered about haphazardly, prompting Cy to crouch down and cover his face with his hands.
"Sorry, but when you have an eye as big as I do, you worry about things getting into it."
"Ah! Je suis desolée! It's one of my most irksome goylisms. I tap my claws without even realizing that I'm doing it," Rochelle apologized.
"It's okay," Cy replied as he stood up straight. "And as for Miss Flapper, she's in the Creepateria with Jinafire and Skelita."
Jinafire Long, a dragon from Fanghai, and Skelita Calaveras, a calaca from Hexico, had been lured in by Miss Flapper's charms immediately upon arriving at Monster High. Robecca, Rochelle, and Venus couldn't quite tell whether they simply idolized the fashion-savvy teacher or were in the throes of something more sinister, like a spell.
"Jinafire and Skelita are both pretty freaked out about the so-called normie invasion, so I doubt Miss Flapper will be going anywhere for a while," Cy finished.
"It's almost midnight," Venus said after looking at her watch. "So I think it's time to head up these stairs," she continued before starting up the stone-walled passageway.
Littered haphazardly along the edge of the steps was an odd array of school paraphernalia, everything from trophies to outdated microscopes to deflated Casketballs. However, unlike most items stashed away in unused corridors, these were not covered in dust but rather in smooth and shimmery strands.
"At least we finally know where all the spiderwebs are coming from," Venus remarked, surveying the surroundings.
"I always thought it was trés bizarre that for all the webs we see on campus we hardly see any spiders, outside of the small cluster in the dormitory, that is," Rochelle added.
"And don't forget that some of the dolls of doom and notes had spider threads on them," Robecca squeaked, shaking her head nervously. "Jeez Louise, is high school always going to be this stressful?"
"The spider ghoul is clearly involved with what's been happening on campus. But the question remains, who is she working for and what are they ultimately after ...?" Venus trailed off in frustration.
"Well, obviously she's working with Miss Flapper, since Spectra saw her coming up here," Cy responded in his usual soft-spoken way.
"Yeah, but do we really think it's just the two of them?" Venus countered.
"Um, Venus?" Robecca stuttered nervously as they ascended the stairs.
"You know I hate to be pushy, but what exactly is the plan here? Are we simply going to introduce ourselves to the spider ghoul and inquire what she's doing at Monster High? How she knows Miss Flapper? Why she left notes, graffiti, and dolls all over campus?" Robecca babbled rapidly, without stopping to take so much as a breath between words.
"Technically speaking, I don't actually have a plan," Venus replied slowly, laboring over each word as though that would make the information more palatable.
"Pardonnez-moi? What was that you said?" Rochelle called out from farther down the stairs.
"I said I don't have a plan, or at least not a formal one," Venus admitted grudgingly.
"Paragraph 80.7 of the Gargoyle Code of Ethics maintains that mission leaders must have a plan before beginning the task. Therefore, I vote we pause our activity, formulate a plan, and then reengage," Rochelle explained, her voice growing louder as she caught up to Venus.
"How long is the Gargoyle Code of Ethics? Because it's beginning to feel like there's a section on everything from flossing your teeth to breathing," Venus grumbled.
"It's 1,714 pages long. And yes, there are sections on both flossing and breathing," Rochelle retorted. "Now about the plan, should we stop and write something down? I just so happen to have both a pen and piece of paper on me, not to mention excellent handwriting."
"Write something down? You can't be serious?" Venus moaned.
"Gargoyles are always serious, or haven't you heard?" Cy mumbled under his breath.
"What if the spider ghoul gets angry? After all, we are barging in on her unannounced," Robecca worried aloud. "What if she knows a martial art? I heard spiders are naturals at goo-jitsu!"
"Goo-jitsu? Where on earth is this coming from?" Venus blustered.
"She has six arms! How will I protect ...?" Robecca paused and then gasped, having just remembered her mechanical pet penguin. "Penny! Where have I left her this time? I hope not the washing machine again. All that spinning gave her such a headache."
"Penny is in your dorm room along with Roux and Chewy," Cy reassured Robecca, while pondering what a funny trio the pets made.
The always-hungry houseplant Chewlian, perpetually happy griffin Roux, and the eternally grumpy mechanical penguin Penny definitely made an interesting group. But then again, just look at their owners.
"Listen up, ghouls ... and guy. I know this is scary, but if this spider ghoul has anything to do with Headmistress Bloodgood's disappearance, and I think we all suspect she does, then there's no time to lose," Venus explained as the stairs came to an end before a wall of webbed curtains.
Intricate designs containing the school crest, birds, and vines adorned each of the silky sheaths covering the entryway to the attic.
"Rochelle, we could use your claws here," Venus called back to the small-framed gargoyle, after noting the stickiness of the webs.
"Shouldn't we knock or ring the doorbell or something?" Robecca mumbled anxiously while fiddling with her sapphire-hued hair.
"First of all, there's no doorbell; it's an attic. And second of all, you can't knock on spider-webs," Venus explained logically.
"Deary me, this situation really has put a bee in my bonnet, because now my head won't stop buzzing," Robecca whined.
As the sharp-clawed Rochelle sliced through the weaving, she winced with pain. So exquisite were the designs that she thought them more spooktacular than anything she'd seen in Scaremès or Croako Chanel. And that said something, for Rochelle absolutely adored both fashion houses.
Following a few minutes of meticulous work, Rochelle made her way through the newly carved opening in the sheaths.
"Do you see her?" Venus whispered to Rochelle as she disappeared from view.
Five long seconds passed without a sound.
"Rochelle? Are you okay?" the plant ghoul called out in an unusually high- pitched voice, adrenaline surging through her thick green veins.
But again there was no response.CHAPTER 2
In all my years, I have never seen such beauty and fine craftsmanship," Rochelle babbled, her eyes glazed over with wonder, as the others barreled into the room behind her.
"In the name of flora and fauna, you scared me!" Venus huffed as she and the others blew out their candles. "You couldn't just have said that the spider ghoul wasn't here? Or that you were okay?"
"Wow! This place is fangtastic!" Robecca proclaimed loudly, her hazel eyes widening to take in the sights.
Dangling from exposed beams, an array of webbed lanterns bathed the room in warm candlelight. Small, delicately crafted snowflakes decorated the walls, creating both a wondrous and wintry effect. And smack-dab in the middle of the room was a fluffy banana-shaped hammock, which seemed to invite all who saw it to take a nap. Long and billowy curtains, a tightly knit rug, and a wardrobe filled out the rest of the enchanting loftlike space.
"This ghoul is clearly an incredible talent. An absolute genius," Rochelle marveled. "Just think what Clawdeen could create with this material!"
Silky-maned werewolf Clawdeen Wolf was the school's foremost designer, not to mention the latest winner of the prestigious Moanatella Ghostier Fashion Fellowship.
"Um, hello?" Venus exclaimed with palpable irritation. "The spider ghoul's also working with Miss Flapper. And most likely involved with Headmistress Bloodgood's kidnapping."
"Venus is right. Whether she's talented or not shouldn't change anything," Cy muttered in agreement.
"Boo-la-la, I cannot believe I allowed myself to be swayed by finely woven fabrics and captivating designs. The fact that she created this boo-tiful space is completely irrelevant," Rochelle admitted with a hint of embarrassment.
The granite ghoul then lowered her head and silently smarted over her ability to be distracted at such a turbulent time. It was behavior not only unbecoming to a gargoyle but downright irresponsible. After all, Headmistress Bloodgood was missing, and what could be more important than that? Well, maybe a few things, but certainly not fabrics.
Excerpted from Monster High by Gitty Daneshvari. Copyright © 2013 Gitty Daneshvari. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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