For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”
Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.
Liz DeJesus was born on the tiny island of Puerto Rico. She is a novelist and a poet. She has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. She is the author of the novel Nina (Blu Phi'er Publishing, October 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 31st 2011) and First Frost (Musa Publishing, June 2012). Liz is currently working on a romance novel and the sequel to First Frost.
“Do you know the story of Snow White?” Rose asked.
Bianca arched her eyebrow and nodded. That was the big question? Of course she knew the story. What person in the world didn’t? Someone had to live under a rock in order to not know about the most famous brunette in the world.
“It’s true. It’s all true,” Rose said.
Bianca frowned, unable to process the words her mother had just spoken. Rose had mentioned something along those lines to her before, but she’d thought she meant that it was based on a true story. That perhaps there had been a grain of truth to the story of Snow White. That there may have been a queen somewhere that had been jealous of her stepdaughter and banished her, making the story so scandalous at the time that it took on a life of its own, thus ending up a fairy tale. But never in a million years would she have believed that Snow White was an actual true story, along with magic, poisoned apples, dwarves, and the handsome prince who broke the spell with true love’s kiss.
“Come on, Mom. Really?” Bianca waited for her mother to smirk like she normally did when she was ready to burst into a fit of giggles, but Rose’s face remained stoic.
“A lot of these stories are actually true. Not so much with the Hans Christian Andersen stories. He made a lot of them up…thankfully. But most of the fairy tales in the Grimm books have spells woven into the stories. For example, ‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all’ is only half a spell. The Brothers Grimm left the other half out because they didn’t want other people using the spell on the queen’s mirror. At the time they published their book, the mirror was still missing along with other items from their now famous fairy tales. That would just cause too much trouble. People don’t really want to hear the truth about certain things. Look at what happened to the queen.”
“Oh, my God. Are you serious?”
“I am very serious. This isn’t a joke. Magic is real. The stories are very real,” Rose said.
“But why print these stories at all? Why not just keep it all a secret?”
“Because it forced a lot of the witches to go into hiding, especially the evil ones. They were out of control. Children went missing almost every day, and beautiful young girls were locked away for fear that witches would become mad with jealousy and try to kill them. People lived in constant fear. The Brothers Grimm helped put a stop to it.”
“Witches? Like the one that just attacked us?”
“When did she get here?”
“Ten-ish. I was ready to make my cup of tea and wait for you to come home.”
Bianca smiled. That was what she had expected to see when she came home that evening. She thought about what her life would become now that she knew this huge family secret.
“We’re witches? For real?”
“Yep,” Rose replied.
“Does that mean I have magical powers too? Like you?”
“I’m sure you have some natural abilities, maybe even some things that only you are capable of doing,” Rose replied. “Your grandmother, Alice, was good with offensive spells and potions. My talents lie with healing spells and some offensive spells, for obvious reasons. I’m no good at potions, which makes sense because I’m not a very good cook.”
Bianca opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. She felt like a fish out of water.
What am I good at?
What sort of magic would be her forte? Would she be good at potions like her grandmother? Or would she be a healer like her mother? Or perhaps she would have a completely different talent? The possibilities seemed endless. Then another fear crept up. What if she wasn’t any good at magic? What would happen to her then?
On the kitchen table was a deck of tarot cards. The box was missing some of the flaps and the corners were worn. This was the deck her mother had used since she was thirteen years old. Bianca reached for the cards and pulled them out of the box. She tried to keep her mind clear as she shuffled them. She pulled a card from the middle of the deck. Bianca held her breath as she turned the card over.
The Tower. The illustration was that of a tower being struck by lightning and several people falling to the ground. The illustrator had drawn people covering their eyes as they fell head first toward the rocky ground. The Tower represented chaos, sudden change, revelation, disruption, hard times, and realizing the truth.
Nothing good will come of this, Bianca thought grimly as she looked into her mother’s emerald eyes.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Rose took a deep breath and replied, “Selfish. I was being selfish. I wanted to keep you innocent for as long as possible. I should’ve started training you the moment you turned twelve. Also…I didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes my mother made. I wanted to be the exact opposite of the woman my mother had been. I mean, sure she was an excellent witch and had defeated many evil witches…but it was almost as though she didn’t know how to take that armor off around me.”
Bianca was a little relieved that her mother hadn’t broken this bit of news to her on her birthday. She wasn’t sure she would have wanted to hear she was a witch right after blowing the candles on her chocolate birthday cake.
“So…what happens now?”
“We get some rest. We have an early day tomorrow.”
Bianca’s heart skipped a beat. She would have to learn how to defend herself with magic. She couldn’t imagine being able to go to sleep.
“Okay,” Bianca said, nodding reluctantly in agreement.
“Yeah…night,” Bianca muttered.
After Bianca turned off the lights in her bedroom, she lay in her bed, and thought about everything that happened that night. Eventually sleep found her, but that night she had dreams of rotting apples, pale hands reaching out to her in the darkness, and sharp white teeth.