When Angela and Mallory noticed the dilapidated tent at the far end of the school carnival, I got excited … because I knew inside the tent was spooky, but also cool. As Angela summed it up, “Sometimes being scared was fun, like in a haunted house, because nothing bad would really happen. But this felt different.” There is nervous anticipation of the unknown, where you ultimately know you’re safe, and then there is nervous anticipation without that safety net. In the context of a school carnival, it should absolutely be the first.
Even if it were a haunted house, it would be things like bowls of cold spaghetti or peeled grapes you’re putting your hand blindly into and getting all grossed out over thinking about entrails and eyeballs. People wearing scary masks might jump out and startle you in the gloom, but they are not likely to be wielding a real ax or going to chop off any body parts. So you can shiver, scream, laugh, and enjoy the entire experience.
But from the moment the girls stepped into the tent, things were different. Subtly, magic was in play from that first moment … and then there was Madame Vadoma.
When writing, some characters come through so strongly you never have to reach for them. That was the case with Madame Vadoma. Her voice, mannerisms, appearance, attitudes, speech inflection, etc. all came through loud and clear. All I had to do was close my eyes and I could see her … vividly. Sam Shearon, the cover creator and interior illustrator, captured her perfectly — the angular features, the amber eyes, hoop earrings, and ring encrusted fingers were all simply perfect. I felt as if he peeked into my head and brought her to “life” for the cover.
Madame Vadoma is named as such because Vadoma means to know, and as a fortune-teller, it suited her. A strong, confident character who remains just as mysterious at the end of the book as she was at the beginning … because that is the way she wanted it. I was saddened when she disappeared and I knew she wouldn’t be back before the end of the book. As a character, she still intrigues me. Her motivations remain obscure, yet her part was complete — for this novel at least.
A ring encrusted hand thrust the curtain back and we both jumped.
Lighthearted moment over.
A tall, thin woman followed the hand into the room. Her big eyes were circled with thick, black liner that trailed up at the corners. And dark-red lipstick made her mouth look like a bloody gash. Her prominent nose and angular cheeks gave her a hawk-like appearance.
“I am Madame Vadoma.”
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