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Minuet Dewin, eldest daughter of the renowned wizard, Razzmorten, spent eighteen years of her life loving, caring for, defending and protecting her younger sibling. And she did so in spite of the growing evidence that all her tender ministrations were completely undeserved. Until, that is, her sister’s eighteenth birthday arrives and the girl lets slip the mask she has been living behind for most of her life in order to appear acceptable by those whom she depended on for her very survival.
In one horrible flash of clarity, Minuet discovers the truth about the girl who meant more to her than her very own life. That knowledge is the cruelest burden she has ever had to bear. She might not have managed had she not almost as quickly discovered that now that her sister considered herself an adult and answerable to no one except her own selfish whims and desires, it was the entire rest of the world that would need to be defended and protected…from her little sister. Minuet felt obligated to be the one to do it since she had allowed herself to be so completely blinded and taken in by the sad little waif who had been named Ughleeuh and abandoned by her mother at birth. Particularly when she, herself, had been abandoned at birth…in a way, since her own dear mother had died in childbirth when she was born, just two short years before Ugleeuh’s birth.
But, as time passes Minuet finds herself the target of her sister’s hate and jealousies, and it becomes all out war between the two sorceress sisters. They even fall in love with the same man. What remains to be seen is if the good sister will triumph over the bad sister in the end. Or will one of them die trying?
Minuet sat in the sunshine of the upstairs sewing room, between the tall woolwheel and the loom, embroidering a sketch which she had made of her ewe and lambsgrazing by the hollyhocks she had planted by the house. A breeze came and went as avireo called from the crown of the maple just outside the window. She hummed ever sofaintly, turning her hoop this way and that. Suddenly she sat upright with a gasp at thescreech of a chair to return immediately to her work, determined to ignore that Ugleeuhwas now sitting directly across from her.
Hubba-Hubba finished preening his stubble of pinfeathers and gave himself a thorough shake, nearly losing his balance on the edge of his box of rags. Ugleeuhchamped away at the fistful of hazelnuts she had brought in with her and crossed her legs.She dangled a slipper from her toe. Hubba-Hubba hopped onto the rags in his box andpeered out over the edge with one eye. Ugleeuh heaved a sigh and crossed her legs theother way as she dug at the cud in her cheek with her tongue. She popped anotherhazelnut into her mouth, rubbing her nose as she chewed.
“Do you actually want something?” said Minuet as she cut her thread and began hunting for another color.
“Well why else would I be sitting here?”
“I was sitting here because you’ve gotten ‘way too-too…”
“You could have spoken, first thing, and I would have answered,” said Minuet asshe threaded her needle on the first try and picked up her hoop. “But you didn’t, and sinceI was enjoying myself before you sat down, I was hoping that you just might let me go onwith it.”
“No, no Minnie-Min. You’re just full of yourself since your victory in our little tug o’ war, aren’t you?”
“Look Lee-Lee. If that’s all you want, I’ve no time for it. Think whatever youmust, but just go somewhere else and do something nice.
“Well. Since you were polite enough to ask me, I came in here to find out whenFather will get back, since he never tells me anything anymore.”
“I can’t imagine why not,” said Minuet as she turned her hoop over and cut a thread, “but in this case, you could have seen him off just as easily as I did. Besides, hetold you he’d take you with him, the first chance he gets. Surely your birthday presentisn’t more important than saving everyone from the plague.”
“I don’t suppose it ever occurred to you that I might be concerned about him, did it Miss Perfect?”
“No. That would be a shock.”
Ugleeuh gave a whooping sob and sprang from her chair, smacking Minuet’s embroidery hoop out of her lap as she tramped across the room. “You used to be my best friend!” she wailed as she yanked open the door and wheeled about. “You used to be my champion! You were the one person in this world I could always count on and trust! Now you’ve turned awful and I’ll never, ever forgive you!”
“I sure was, sweetheart,” said Minuet to the closed door as she knelt to pick up her broken hoop, “but then I woke up to find that no matter what I did for you, every third thing you ever said was a lie.”
“Do some-thing nice… do some-thing nice… just go some-where else and do some-thing nice…” said Ugleeuh in a giddy sing-song as she whirled and skipped down the hallway. At the head of the stairs she stopped short and leant out the window,straining to hear a couple of hands who were singing grandly as they rode a wagon load of timothy hay to the barn. “Oh my!” she said with a sweet little bounce as she clasped her hands under her chin. “You two are so tone deaf. I need to do something nice to each one of you. Big sister says so…” And with that, she floated down the stairs and skipped outside.
Minuet had had quite enough of Ugleeuh by supper time. It had taken much of the afternoon to repair her hoop and get her embroidery mounted again to her satisfaction. Even so, she politely dipped out a bowl of Bethan’s stew for her and quietly sat acrossfrom her at the board to eat.
Ugleeuh sipped her stew without a word, stirring it from time to time andglancing up as though she were trying to think of something to say. “Did you hear thathideous loud singing the hired hands were doing, today?” she said at last.
“I suppose. I don’t know about ‘hideous.’ I wasn’t paying attention…”
“Well it was hideous, just plain more than anyone should ever have to listen to.”
“That bad, aye?” said Minuet, finally looking up. “So who was this rottensongster, Enid, Nudd, Yvain or old Mister Philpot?”
“Who cares who they are,” said Ugleeuh, grabbing up a napkin as she smiledaround a dribbling piece of lamb.
“Philpot wasn’t ugly until you scorched him with your weather…”
“Not him,” she said, hiding a giggle as she blotted her chin. “No, no. The really ugly blotchy one. You know, the one with a face like some kind of red squash, the one with the awful orange hair…”
“Orange? Two of the field hands have red hair, Lee-Lee, and if you mean the freckled one, he might be ordinary, but he’s not one bit ugly.”
“Well his hair is orange, but maybe not ugly to you because of your red hair.”
Minuet squinted at her and waited.
“Well anyway, we’re done with his stupid singing. I was out picking a bouquet foryou… All right. I’ll bring you one sometime. I was out picking flowers, and I hear this hollering and carrying on, and the fool had run his own foot clean through with his very own pitchfork,” she said, stifling her laughter with a snort. “What an idiot…”
“You caused it, didn’t you?”
“How could you say that to me, Min-Min?”
“Easy. You’re having ‘way too much fun with this. You’re not even hiding it. Were you at least good enough to heal his wound for him?”
“Yea. They’ll have to hold him down and run a red-hot wire through his foot if you didn’t…”
“Of course I didn’t heal him,” she said, growing louder as she stood up to tramp across the floor. “He got what he deserved, passing himself off to the old man as skilled help. I dismissed him on the spot. I did us all a favor. If the world was fair, you and Father would owe me!” And with that, she slammed the door.
Good Sister, Bad Sister, 5 Star Review:
An Awesome Read!July 30, 2012
When “window shopping” for a new book, I ran across Good Sister, Bad Sister (Heart of the Staff). I am so very glad I stepped outside of my normal reading preference.
The story of these two sisters and their completely different personalities is very intriguing. In many ways, it reminded of my childhood. My sisters were the bad ones, of course!
I can’t wait to read the further adventures of Minuet and Leeuh! Thanks so much to the writing team of Carol and Tom Phipps for opening a whole new world to me.
I would highly recommend Good Sister, Bad Sister (Heart of the Staff) to any avid reader out there.
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