What if there was a 13th zodiac sign?
You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign.
Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s.
What about the rest of the world?
What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs?
Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend on it.
About the Author
Kristin O’Donnell Tubb’s first novel, Selling Hope, garnered terrific reviews, including a star from Booklist, who said, “Tubb deftly ingrains a thoughtful ethical question into the story, but never overdoes it in this bouncy tale populated by a terrific cast of characters.” Kristin lives in Tennessee with her family.
Read an Excerpt
Sagittarius: Your bubbly personality and effervescent style make you a shoo-in for 'Most Likely to Be the Center of Attention at a Party. Straighten that tiara, flash those pearly whites, and dance for your admirers, superstar!'"
Madame Beausoleil finished reading my horoscope from the ancient book in her lap. She raised her gaze to mine. Madame's eyes were foggy with age, though she claimed her cloudy eyes helped her to "see." I didn't know Madame well myself; I usually came here with my Nina. Madame called herself a voodoo priestess, and her milky eyes, her whole dark and dusty shop, gave me the chills. Armies of carved wooden masks stared from the walls with empty eye sockets. Dream catchers and incense burners and wind chimes hung from the ceiling like swarms of ghosts jangling their chains. Visitors were warned with scratchy, hand-printed signs: "ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOS."
But I had to overlook the creepiness. Coming to Beausoleil/Fâchénuit (Beautiful Sun/Angry Night) was my birthday tradition. Our birthday tradition — mine and Nina's. I had to come, even if Nina couldn't. Used to be — once upon a time — Daddy would come with us, too. He'd dig through the junky shelves, wide-eyed, for hours, asking thousands of questions about horoscopes and zodiacs and such. Madame Beausoleil would eventually get so fed up with him she'd kick him out, shooing him away and telling him to never come back. And Nina would laugh and say, "See you next birthday!"
I shook that thought off with a pang. "Honestly?" I asked now. "That's what my horoscope says? I don't even own a tiara." Ellie spat a laugh at my side. The salt-and-pepper snake in the glass box on the counter knotted into a tighter coil.
My horoscope always read like that, and it could not be more wrong. I didn't act, think, feel, dance, dress, play, work, or love like a Sagittarian. I'd hoped a reading from Madame Beausoleil might be more accurate.
Maybe I had misunderstood. Madame Beausoleil spoke with a thick Creole accent, like her mouth was full of spicy peppers. So I asked again, "Is that really what it says about me?"
I looked to Ellie, who stood next to an overstuffed display of voodoo dolls, pins launching forth from their rag-doll bodies like shooting stars, their instruments of torture entangling them in a voodoo universe. Ellie placed a hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle, but she was definitely smiling. Even Madame Beausoleil's eyes twinkled with amusement at how inaccurate this picture of me was.
"Dat's what it say, girl." Madame's leather-brown skin pulled taut, showing her huge gap-toothed grin. "You don' tink Seventeen magazine got you pegged?" She reached between the pages of the huge tome on her lap, pulled out a tattered magazine, and tossed it toward me. There, on the cover, between gleaming-white movie star smiles, scrawled in neon green font: "Happy Birthday, Sagittarius!!! Read inside to see what the upcoming year holds for Y-O-U, superstar!!!"
I wanted to scream and shout at being duped like this. I wanted to demand my money back. Instead, I twiddled my fingers in the hot-pink streak dyed in my hair, pulling the lock across my face. I managed only to whisper in a shaky voice, "You said you'd give me a real horoscope reading."
But Madame had already moved on to picking the dirt from beneath her fingernails with a huge knife blade attached to an ivory handle. "Why should I?" she asked. "Girl don' believe dis hoo anyways, now do she? Every year she come here, every year she scoff. Now, go shop." She didn't look up from her fingernail cleaning, just jerked her head at the rest of the store behind us. Her multicolored turban bobbed as she did.
I sighed. No, I didn't believe this hoo. It seemed unlikely that my personality could be controlled by my zodiac sign, that my birthdate and a bunch of stars could define me. Horoscopes were nothing but words on paper. How could that possibly shape the future? No, it seemed much more likely that we humans were messing up all on our own.
But my Nina did believe in this hoo — just as my dad had — and she brought me to Beausoleil/Fâchénuit every year on my birthday to have my tea leaves read, or my palm studied, or my tarot cards flipped. But this year, on my thirteenth birthday, Nina wasn't with me. Breast cancer had my Nina trapped in a spiderweb of tubes and needles. And I wasn't even allowed in the hospital room. My mom was by her side, but Mom hardened whenever tragedy clawed its way into our home. Which was far too often.
Ellie checked the clock on her cell phone. "We'd better hurry, Jalen. Brennan will be ticked if he has to park the car and come inside."
As if on cue, Brennan entered the tiny dark store, chiming the bells tied to the door. He ducked beneath a row of alligator teeth on a string. The image of Brennan getting swallowed whole made me grin.
"Aren't y'all ready yet?" he grumbled. "It's been five minutes!" Ellie shot him a wide-eyed look, but Brennan scowled back. "Look, Ellie. Don't start with the sick-grandma stuff. I don't want to hear it. And I'm not waiting long."
I rolled my eyes and cursed breast cancer once again. With Nina sick, Ellie and I had been forced to bum a ride with her brother Brennan. He was only fifteen, but he'd been driving a massive, rusting pickup truck around the streets of New Orleans since he was thirteen. Ellie and Brennan's parents were quite lax about things like, oh, the law.
"Patience, Brennan," I cooed at him, knowing it'd drive him nuts. I reached into one of the hundreds of nearby jars. "Here. Suck on a peppermint-soaked bamboo stick. It's supposed to calm you." Under my breath — way under, so no one could hear — I added, "And shut you up." I wanted to say stuff like that out loud, but I figured it wasn't worth the trouble.
Brennan glared at me and looked like he was about to say something else, but Ellie stepped between us. I was glad she did; I wasn't up for his teasing tonight. He spun and headed for the display of ceremonial drums. He smiled at one and tapped on it a bit — tap tap tippetty tap — but he stopped when he saw me watching him. He scowled and moved on to the glimmering crystal collection. I got a little teary at that. Crystals were Nina's favorite.
Ellie must've sensed my already sour mood taking a nosedive, because she steered me to the other side of the store. "Let's look at the books," she said. Ellie always knew how to cheer me up.
I looked at some of the titles of the books and couldn't help but smirk at their spines. Your Many Past Lives and You Can: Realign your Chakras! and Healing through Meditation. Yes, if only it were that easy. I sighed and pulled that title off the shelf, just to see if maybe Mom and I were missing something. Anything to heal my Nina, to pull her a little farther away from the edge of death.
Behind that title, stuffed behind the other books, was a small brown leather book, hidden by the dusty collection in front of it. This book was crisscrossed with a metal chain, binding it both horizontally and vertically. Shut tight with a tiny brass lock.
I reached for it, this book tucked behind the others, hiding in the dark. It shocked me when I touched it. I jerked my finger back, and my ears popped with a whoosh.
Dusty metal, I thought. Madame Beausoleil really needs to clean this place.
Around the chain, I read the title, branded into the leather cover in a scrolly, burnt script: The Keypers of the Zodiack.
A book about horoscopes! Maybe this could give me a real view of my future, not some pop-vomit version from a magazine.
Ellie looked over my shoulder, and I felt her nod. "That's what we're getting."
We took the book to the counter. "Madame, um, Beausoleil?" I asked. Addressing this woman directly made my heart race. "Where's the key to this book?"
Madame looked up, and the clouds in her eyes turned thunderous. "Dat's not fo sale. Where you find dat?"
"On the bookshelf," Ellie cut in. "There's a price tag on it. Thirty dollars."
"Not fo sale," she said, waggling her fingers at us in a give-it-here motion. "You not ready."
Not ready? Why does no one think a thirteen-year-old is ready? Not the hospital, not my mom, not this con artist voodoo priestess. But I gave the book to her. Her hands felt like cool paper.
Madame tucked the book under the counter. "Keep looking, girls," she said. She stood and shuffled through a thick purple curtain into a back room. The snake in the glass box on the counter lifted its head and blinked a single black eye. Winked?
"Yeah, and make it quick," Brennan said over his shoulder. He'd moved on to the other rock displays and was palming a smooth geode, the kind of rock that was plain Jane on the outside, but you shattered it with the hope there would be spectacular crystals inside. It's likely the only thing that gets better after being shattered.
Ellie hopped up on the counter, leaned over, snagged the book. After she grabbed it, she looked at the cover for a moment, like it might've shocked her, too. She shrugged and tossed $40 on the counter.
"Let's go," she whispered.
"Ellie!" I snapped. My eyes darted to the curtain. Madame Beausoleil could likely feel what we were doing in here.
"What?" Ellie asked. "That crazy lady is asking for this. She ripped you off, making you pay for a horoscope reading from Seventeen magazine. And she calls herself a friend of your Nina."
Ellie punched all the right buttons. She's right, I thought. And it wasn't like we were stealing the book. In fact, we were overpaying.
"Let's go," I whispered back. I tucked the book into the front of my jeans. The chain scratched my stomach, and a little bead of blood appeared.
Brennan, Ellie, and I scooted out of Beausoleil/Fâchénuit and into the dark, cool night. The streets of New Orleans's French Quarter were eerily bare. Rain from earlier in the day glimmered under the streetlamps on the brick-inlaid sidewalks and made them look like they were made of nighttime sky, dark and light contrasted.
Like she were reading my mind, Ellie said, "Jalen, it's your birthday. Wish on a star." I glanced her way, but Ellie's face was upturned, not looking down like mine.
I shrugged. I felt very uncomfortable about this book. Not uncomfortable about it crammed in my jeans and scratching me, although, yes, that was awkward. Uncomfortable about taking something I'd been told I shouldn't have. I realized my fingers were tangled in a pink streak of hair.
"Nah," I said. "No use. I have more wishes than stars."CHAPTER 2
Leaning against the passenger side window of Brennan's pickup, I tugged and pulled at the chain binding The Keypers of the Zodiack. It was no use; the chain would not budge, and I didn't want to damage the book. I examined the lock: brass, very intricate. The lock itself was shaped like a heart, with two snakes twined together around it. The scaly snakes looped above the heart, bodies coiling, forming the handle of the lock. Their eyes, narrowed at each another in strike mode, were emerald-green jewels. Their tongues, quick and wispy. The whole thing would make a really incredible tattoo — maybe someday. Something about the lock — the snakes, the heart — seemed eerily familiar to me. Déjà vu. I shivered.
"Is this the right way?" Ellie bent down and peered under the rearview mirror, looking up at the passing street sign. As if her navigation skills would get us home. Ellie was many wonderful things, but a reliable navigator? No.
Brennan half smiled. "Ellie. You always know where you are in New Orleans —"
"— if you just know were the river is." All three of us repeated this. It was Brennan's driving mantra. It was true, though. I loved that about New Orleans. The river was a comforting compass.
"Just don't forget to take the bridge, Brennan. No ferries."
Brennan huffed, and my face grew hot. They were avoiding the ferry because of me, because of my fear of boats. I hated that. But I wasn't about to ride that ferry.
Ellie's phone rang, some cheesy folk song blasting from her pocket. Brennan snorted. She looked at the screen, then passed the phone to me. "It's the drill sergeant."
My mom. I wished Ellie wouldn't use that nickname for her in front of Brennan. My mom called me on Ellie's phone all the time. It was her way of working around getting me a phone of my own.
"Hello?" I whispered.
"I hadn't heard from you yet. Are you home?" I could hear the click of my mom's heels echoing in the tile halls of the hospital.
"Mom, it's 8:03."
"Are you home?"
I sighed. "Almost."
I could practically hear my mom's shoulders drop a notch or two. "Good. Did you have fun?"
"Yeah." I wanted so badly to add, "I wish Nina could've come," but I didn't dare say something like that in the cab of Brennan's truck.
Mom paused, like she knew what I wanted to say. "Want to talk to her?"
Heels clicked, the phone shuffled, and then that Southern accent slow as honey poured through Ellie's phone. "Jalen," Nina's voice sang.
"Jalen, love, thank heavens you went to Beausoleil/Fâchénuit without me! Did you get your horoscope read?"
"Well, thank heavens. Can't catch your dreams if you don't know what the path ahead looks like. What a brave girl you are to go to that scary voodoo shop all by your lonesome."
I giggled and so did Nina. She loved that scary voodoo shop.
Nina coughed, and it was like an alarm, reminding me where she was. "You feeling okay?" I asked.
"Sure, love. Sure. Hospital food tastes just like birthday cake, don't you know?"
We said our good-byes, and Mom made me promise to call every hour until we went to sleep. I passed the phone back to Ellie. "Thank heavens," Nina's voice sang in my head. "Can't catch your dreams if you don't know what the path ahead looks like." If only she knew what a con artist her friend Madame Beausoleil was. According to her, my path ahead required a tiara.
Brennan approached my house. I was always a little embarrassed about the outside of my home — the peeling paint, the sagging gutters — and anytime I saw it through someone else's eyes, I felt defensive. And inside? Our furniture was old and dusty, our high-ceiling corners filled with cobwebs. Deteriorating, like everything eventually did. It was hard, me and Mom and Nina keeping up an old house like ours. When Daddy was here, this place had been a showstopper. Now it was just filled with ghosts and memories. Which are really the same thing, when you think about it.
"This is fine." I bolted upright and leaned across Ellie to speak to Brennan. He huffed and slammed to a stop at the corner of my yard. He'd had that temper since we were kids. I used to find it amusing. Now I found it annoying.
Ellie plucked the book off my lap. "Maybe I could pick the lock. You know, all spy-like?" She jimmied the keyhole with her electric-green pinkie fingernail. We hopped out of Brennan's truck, and he peeled away, wheels squealing. Show-off.
Ellie handed me The Keypers of the Zodiack, and we went inside, straight to the pottery wheel. Mom had converted an old sunroom on the side of our house into a small pottery studio. Throwing pots is messy business, and this sunroom was constantly covered in a film of mud.
"These tools." I pointed to a row of picks and brushes used to make designs in the clay. "Let's try them." But after a good ten minutes of unsuccessfully trying to pick the lock, I gave up.
I tossed the book on a rickety wicker chair, picked up a hunk of clay covered in plastic wrap, opened it, and pounded it. I prepared my slip and turned the wheel on. When my foot pressed the pedal, spatters of gray muck fanned everywhere.
"Hey!" Ellie hopped backward. "You did that on purpose!" She laughed, swiping at the drops of mud on her peace-sign sweatshirt.
I smiled. "You know not to stand that close."
My hands sank into the cool, slick mud, and I felt all my anger at Madame Beausoleil, at Brennan, at cancer ooze between my fingers and spin into that pot. I centered the clay first, sculpting a small tower in the middle of the wheel, on the spinning wooden bat. Once the column was right, I pushed my thumbs into the top. The lump of clay rounded, then hollowed out, turning from something useless into something practical. Spinning chaos into order.
All my pots look the same. Some are a little taller, some a little wider, but they're all basically bowls. Every once in a while my mom tries to get me to try a new shape, like a vase or something. When she does, I end up pressing the spinning wheel too hard with my foot, pinching the clay too thin with my fingers, and then I lose the bowl altogether.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The 13th Sign"
Copyright © 2013 Kristin O'Donnell Tubb.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I dont care what those other people say this is a wonderful book you have to read
I absolutely enjoyed The 13th Sign by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, and I truly believe it is a story that MG readers will thoroughly enjoy. Why? Ummmm…because the twelve signs of the Zodiac come to life! Yes, you heard me…pretty awesomesauce right? The 13th Sign opens up in a voodoo shop in New Orleans, and on main protagonists, Jalen’s, birthday! After many years of tradition where Jalen and her grandmother, Nina, come and get their tea leaves, palms, or tarot cards read. But this year, Nina is in the hospital battling cancer, so this year, Jalen has brought her best friend, Ellie, with her. It’s in this shop that Jalen comes across The Keypers of the Zodiak book. After being told by the shop keeper that she can’t have the book, Jalen and Ellie take the book and go to Jalen’s home to try and open it. After figuring out that the key to open the intricate lock on the book is in her grandmothers jewelry box, Jalen started an unbelievable event that changes everyone in the world. Jalen unknowingly opens up a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus. And in doing this, apparently Jalen has angered the other 12 zodiac signs, and they come to life and are now after Jalen to stop her from gaining the power of Ophiuchus. And now, the zodiac signs have deemed Jalen as their challenger and will stop at nothing to stop what Jalen has started. One by one, the signs come after Jalen and her friends, and one by one, Jalen and her friends have to defeat the signs and send them home into the stars. The idea and concept of this book was one that I found so interesting. I loved the idea of all the different zodiac signs to come to life, and allow us to see some of their powers. I loved how the key to defeating these signs was to decipher a cryptic answer found within the descriptions of the signs. And I also loved the idea that because of the entrance of this 13th sign, the personalities of every one has been altered…whether it’s for the better or for the worse. I also really enjoyed the side story regarding the disappearance of Jalen’s father. Author, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb does a fantabulous job of grabbing the reader’s attention with the multitude of battles. Her descriptive writing skills are amazing, and you can’t help but get caught up in the moments. I also really loved the emotional side of the story when dealing with Jalen’s grandmother. Just reading the intimate moments between Jalen and Nina were tugging at my heartstrings. I was a little annoyed the extreme 360 to Jalen’s mother’s personality when the 13th sign was released. I couldn’t really understand how she could freak out as much as she did to Jalen. I would recommend this read to MG readers everywhere! Fans of horoscopes and zodiac signs will devour this quick read, and will have them totally comparing themselves to the zodiac descriptions found in the book. I know I did, and I am such a Cancer!
"This is a REALLY GOOD Book" That is high praise from a middle grade boy! My son and I both loved reading The 13th Sign. Author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb carries us along Jalen's fast-paced adventure to try to recapture all of the Zodiac signs she unknowingly released. From hot air balloon rides, to racing away from archers, to escaping from Leo the Lion, the action never stops. We loved learning about the Zodiac signs, characters, and personality types! Someday, we would love to find a dusty old book titled, The Keypers of the Zodiack, and start our own adventure!
I started reading The 13th Sign thinking it is a young adult novel, however soon enough I found out it was a middle grade novel. I don't read much Middle Grade novels but I continued reading The 13th Sign because the synopsis sounding interesting, plus I am a sagittarius, just like the protagonist. Jalen somehow unlocks the 13th sign, Ophiuchus, and as a consequence, the personalities of everyone in the world shift depending on their new star sign. Logical, fair judges turn into emotional ones, diplomatic and rational presidents turn into hotheads and declare war; basically the whole world is crumbling and the only way it could be saved is if Jalen defeats all 12 signs and meets with Ophiuchus within 24 hours. Thus, Jalen, along with her best friend and her best friend's brother, embark on this journey. The whole book passes by with Jalen fighting each zodiac and defeating him or her using her judgement of the star sign itself with the help of the Zodiac book she unlocked. In all honesty I found it a bit repetitive, different zodiac sign but same fight, and same result in the end, her winning. I know that is how it is supposed to go but I felt that is too simplistic, which is why I tend to not read Middle Grade books often. I didn't get much depth from the characters and I just hoped there was a bit more complexity in the end solution and some sort of shocking ending. I do understand that this is a middle grade book and I would only recommend it to middle grade readers, because while I did enjoy this book, it isn't one I would recommend to strict YA readers. If Tubb ever writes a YA novel, I would definitely be interested in reading it because she is a great author.
The 13th Sign. When I first heard of it, I literally spazzed. What a brilliant idea! Like Jalen, I am a Sagittarius that feel like the horoscope didn't depict my personality right. And so I started wondering if there was a 13th sign. The idea intrigued me dearly. And recently I got into looking at horoscope more because of Midorima from Kuroko no Basuke (I miss you Shin-chan). So when Raincoast Books provided me a copy of The 13th Sign, I freaked. So on the night of January the 4th, I started reading and man I didn't put the book down until I was finished. I finished this within hours (and I read SUPER slow) so this is saying a lot! Now I am currently writing this review at 12:30 in the morning. I have to say my mind works better at night anyway. Okay let's talk about the cover. WOW! Is it ever gorgeous?! It somewhat reminded me of The Night Circus' cover and this Alice in Wonderland mythical depth. I adore it! It seemed goth but also elegant. I can't stop staring at it. I mean the book is not perfect for example, the start of the book. The book didn't start out very well. Maybe it was me but I was confused. I didn't understand the characters, ie who is Ellie, and what's her relationship with Jalen? How old is she? How about Brennan? Nina? Jalen kept on referring Nina as "her Nina", why? What is going on?(Oh Nina is her grandmother, after 43 pages I find this out). And I thought they were locked out of the house, how did they get in? So I was a bit frustrated with the beginning, but that said, if you look past all that, everything was good. I mean you get to be introduced to all the zodiac signs as people, almost like Greek Gods from Percy Jackson. Each of them had their own personalities that fit the horoscope. That was pretty cool. :) Oh speaking of Percy Jackson, there were many things this book resembled of Percy Jackson series. You know the Minotaur encounter in the lightning thief? There was something similar but with Taurus the Bull. So if you know the adventure Percy went on such as Medusa's lair etc, you get most of the action from this book. BUT! The big difference is that the Percy Jackson series seemed to had more layers and complexity. Some of the "fights" in this book lacked many excitement. It just didn't have the same impact as the Percy Jackson series but I mean, who can compete with Rick Riordan? He is practically a God himself. So overall, this book is a fast-paced adventure that's for sure. It is full of magic, myth, danger and more! Once the story got started, the pace was fast. It kept things interesting and not dull. One adventure followed another, one Keeper after another. If you like Percy Jackson (but a step down), why not give this one a try?