BAD SPELLING SYNOPSIS
KATYA lives with her mother and her half-vampire younger brother, RUNE on the frozen island of Galdorheim, a secret haven for Wiccans created in the days of the medieval witch hunts. Her father BORIS, a Siberian hunter, is frozen in a glacier. He’s not dead, but he’s not exactly alive, either.
Katya is a witch . . . sort of. She has power, lots of it, but no control--she’s a bad speller. Even her simplest spells backfire. Her family and teachers think she just doesn’t try hard enough, the other young witches tease her, and her only real friends are Teddy, her bunny familiar, and her brother, Rune, who believes her real power is an affinity for animals. However, on an island where almost every animal is somebody’s familiar, she didn’t even realize she had this skill.
Fed up with the teasing, Katya vows to search for her father’s family in hopes they’ll let her live with them. Boris came from somewhere in Siberia, but where? Siberia is a big place and nobody on Galdorheim knows where the wandering walrus hunter lived.
Katya’s Aunt THORDIS, although her harshest critic, uses magic to chat with Katya’s not-quite-dead father to discuss her niece’s failures. She learns that Katya’s great-great-grandfather is a shaman, and Thordis suspects he cast a protective spell on Boris and that’s what interferes with Katya’s abilities.
Boris cryptically suggests that Katya visit the OLE the Troll King in his mountain hall. Learning of the spell, Katya decides she must go immediately to Norway to find the Troll King. Her mother and aunt forbid her to go, at least until the spring thaw. Katya is unaware that the village council is already working to resolve the problem.
Katya secretly calls on the ancient sorceress MORDITA for help. Checking the facts by scrying crystal, Mordita discovers that the shaman’s curse is not limited to Katya, but is spreading across the village, and may very well destroy the village’s magic. This makes Katya’s journey even more urgent. Mordita agrees to help Katya prepare for the journey to cross the frozen sea.
Katya also asks her little brother, Rune, for a few packaged spells to take along. Instead, Rune says he should go with her. She protests, but the boy relishes the idea of an adventure away from their tiny island village. The two set off across the ice, towing a sled boat to use when they reach open water.
When a polar bear appears out of nowhere and threatens to attack, a killer whale comes through the ice and chases the bear away. Katya falls in the water and almost drowns, but the orca saves her life. It surprises, and delights her, to find she can speak with the orca.
Katya learns the whales came to her aid because they heard her subconscious call for help. The orca agrees to tow the boat, while the rest of his pod breaks the ice in front of them. With a little speed enhancement spell from Rune, the duo gets a Nantucket sleigh ride across the Kara straits. The orcas take the siblings to the northern shores of Norway, where they continue on their own.
They find a little village where trolls are a tourist attraction. A local witch leads them to the hidden path to the Troll King’s realm. On the path, a jotun--a rock giant--attacks, but at the last minute a group of eagles saves them. Again, Katya has accidentally called on animals for help. She is now getting the idea that she has more power than she once believed.
The brother and sister meet a trio of trolls, ANDI, his brother Endi and his other brother Indi. After a misunderstanding on a bridge and a brief scuffle, the troll trio leads them to the Mountain King. The Troll King is expecting the visit. He fondly remembers his old flame Thordis, but can’t think of how he can help them.
When Andi learns Katya is searching for the Samsis of Siberia, he reveals that his troll mother stole him from the Samsis when he was born--he is a changeling. Living with Trolls, he grew up to look like one, but he longs to visit his human family. King Ole figures out that Andi is the reason Katya has been directed to his hall: to lead her to their mutual family.
A breakneck journey on the Troller Coaster--the ore train used by the mining trolls--carries the searchers from Norway to east of the Ural Mountains. King Ole’s brother OLAF rules there.
He helps them continue their journey to the northern coastline of Siberia on a sled drawn by a sextet of werewolves. The sled become mired in quickmud, but the werewolves manage to pull them out. During the journey, Katya notices that Andi is looking less like a troll and more like a human all the time, and she likes the change.
The chief shaman, the TADEBYA, of the Samsi tribe turns out to be Katya’s great-great-grandfather. Katya tells him Boris is dead and begs the shaman to remove the protective spell from around the body. However, he tells her it is not his spell, but that of the fearsome shaman, the SAMBANA.
When she reveals how she knows about the spell, the Tadebya realizes she is a witch and the Samsis have a policy of executing witches, even when they’re relatives. The Tadebya takes Katya and Rune prisoner and is seriously thinking to kill them, when he recognizes Andi as the long-lost child stolen from his tribe.
He reconsiders and is ready to release them all, when the ancient and evil Sambana arrives at the village. The Sambana not only cursed Katya’s father, but is also responsible for the attacks from the polar bear, the jotun, and the quickmud. Driven insane over the years, the Sambana’s hatred of witches has taken him over and he wants Katya and Rune dead. The Samsis fear the Sambana and he forces them to drag the pair out to the village square for execution.
He then makes a long speech to the villagers, giving Katya time to use her newfound talent to call for help. A most unlikely group of rescuers answers her call--lemmings. When the tide of little golden brown bodies passes, the Sambana has disappeared.
Meanwhile, Aunt Thordis has called on King Olaf to aid her niece and nephew. He leads a troll army to the rescue, only to find everything under control when he arrives. The villagers, happy to be rid of the fearsome and insane Sambana, welcome Andi back to the tribe and greet King Olaf as an ally, since they now share blood ties.
The troll left in Andi’s place is relieved to discover his true nature. At a suitably big celebration, Katya meets Boris’s father, her grandfather, who says he wishes to come to Galdorheim to retrieve Boris’s body.
Andi has completed his transformation to human form, and Katya definitely likes what she sees. He promises to visit her at Galdorheim and she gets her first kiss from a former troll. Katya and Rune depart with the trolls. With the Sambana’s spell broken, Katya feels confident her magical talent with animals can now develop normally. She looks forward to seeing Andi again, thinking that a witch and a Sami boy might become more than just friends.