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In City of Lights, author Kelly Byrd introduces readers to Mary, who is one week away from finishing fifth grade. Mary’s mind is on starting middle school in the fall and finally getting her own phone. But then this ordinary girl notices glimmers of light and meets a strange little man who conjures the best smell she has ever smelled. Before she even stops to consider what she’s doing, she agrees to accompany the man to the land of LeeChee, where our Mary Jingo from the Shadowlands in seen as warrior and a great hope.
Now this very ordinary girl must find a way to help save LeeChee from Thrall and restore the Everything—a magical life- and joy-giving force that somehow connects Mary’s world to LeeChee. How can she face the Void, the foul-smelling Shoeboxians, or the evil Mellie? And how can she do all of the Far From Home?
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The mist began to swirl and take shape. It whirled around, and formed Mellie’s face in mid-air, the mist rippling as she smiled nastily, the scars on her face alive and whirling in the dark night sky.
“You thought you could get away that easily?” Mellie’s voice was amplified and stretched. It was so loud that it blew Mary back. She clung to the handholds on WindRunner’s back. “You can’t get away from the Void, Mitzy Jingles. And you certainly cannot get away from me. It knows your name, it’s seen your face. It hates YOU most of all.”
“Stay away from us!” Mary shouted back at the Void.
“NO!” Mellie’s face spat and laughed. “No, I will not. We got most of what we came for, your sweet Lady Kathryn and that other oracle to boot. I tried to leave you out of this, Shadowlands girl, but you just wouldn’t LEAVE. So, now I’m going to have to, um, borrow your two friends here. The small curly-headed one seems like she will be especially powerful at helping me bend the Everything into the Void.”
“We would never help you!” Teeny yelled from over Mary’s shoulder.
“Oh, that is SO sweet,” Mellie’s floating face replied. “Unfortunately, you won’t have a choice.”
Mellie opened her mouth and bronze mist streamed toward them in a giant wave.
…Mary looked around, the mist swirled around them in great billowing clouds. What was she even doing here? Her family was so far away and she was not cut out for this. If only she could steal a Flike and take it home to show the other kids that she was cool. Then, then she would just be so happy!
Mary swayed in the cloud of mist, thinking of home. She could almost smell her neighborhood—the green scent of the grass and the tang of gentle salt on the air. She was so close to it. She just needed to focus and she could go home and be the coolest person in her class. They would never ignore her again.
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