Never use the magic for your own gain. That’s the most important rule in enchanted bookshops like the one where Poppy and her family live. But Rhyme and Reason has a mind of its own, and when Poppy’s brother triggers the shop’s dark magic, it becomes first unpredictable, and then dangerous. Now, Poppy must restore the balance before time runs out, and the shop destroys everyone she loves.
The bookshop is feeling blue today. I sense it the moment my brother James and I arrive home from school. The lights are low, the ever-shifting wallpaper a cheerless dark gray, and the shop has chosen to showcase somber books––Wuthering Heights, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Bridge to Terabithia. The gloom sinks into my bones. Rhyme and Reason is depressed.
“Papa?” I call. He should be at the front counter, but he isn’t.
“We’re home!” James shouts.
The soft sound of customers chatting trickles toward us through the fiction section, but Papa’s booming voice, often too loud for our small, cramped space is absent. I press my palm to the wall and the floral paper shifts to a deep navy beneath my touch. “What has gotten you into such a mood, hmm?” The lights flicker in dramatic response. “There, there, everything is going to be all right.”
Words appear on the chalkboard behind the register. In that moment, when everything seemed dire, she was glad to have the comfort of a friend. It made the world less bleak. Some of my concern melts, and I give the wall a gentle pat.
“What’s that quote from, Poppy?” James asks.
“I’m not sure.” But I have a hunch about the problem. There’s only one thing that can put the shop in such a state. A rude customer.