The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani
Publication Date: May 15, 2014
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another… When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms. But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini? Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…
EXCERPT- The Luthier’s Apprentice by Mayra Calvani
Emma opened her eyes. She felt as though she had slept for a long time.
Drowsy, limbs heavy, she propped up on her elbow and stared in awe at her new surroundings. Clearly she was in another world, another dimension. Everything here shimmered with an alien purplish glow: the trees, the grass, even the sky. To her right was a huge clearing that ended at the edge of a forest. To her left, a massive lake stretched as far as the horizon, its still waters purple. Beyond the lake she saw yet another forest and also a strange-looking object—a building?—but it was too far away to make out any details. The strangest thing of all was a small purple airplane stationed about thirty meters from the edge of the lake.
Corey lay by her side. He seemed profoundly asleep. For a moment she could only stare. Washed in the soft purple light, he looked almost painfully handsome, his hair a splash of dark ink on the grass.
She shook him. “Corey? Corey, wake up.”
She had to shake him several times before he stirred. Finally, he opened his eyes. He was soon on his feet, slowly turning to look at this strange, new place. He nodded thoughtfully. A bizarre expression covered his face, as if he had, somehow, been expecting this.
“Are you okay?” she asked, rising as well. “You don’t seem too surprised.”
“Of course I’m surprised,” Corey said quickly, looking away. “Are you okay?”
Emma nodded. “I’m fine.”
“What is this place?” Corey asked, more to himself than to her.
“It seems some sort of parallel world, some other dimension,” she said. “The problem is, the portal’s gone.”
They looked at each other. They knew what that meant. No portal, no way back.
“No sign of Annika or Blackie either,” Emma said. “Where are they? Do you think they could have ended up in a different place?”
“That’s always a possibility. Or maybe Annika went into the forest.” He gestured to the woods. “It’s either that or the lake, but I don’t see a boat. And I don’t see how she could have crossed the lake. It’s huge.” He stared at the distant object beyond the lake. “What’s that?”
“I don’t know. Looks like a building or a monument of some sort,” she replied uneasily. She cupped her hands and shouted, “Annika! Annika!”
Corey joined her. “Annika!”
After a moment they stopped.
“Oh wait,” Emma said, digging into her pocket. “Let me try my cell phone.” But it was completely dead.
They tried Corey’s phone next, but it, too, was dead. “I guess cell phones don’t work around here. Somehow I’m not surprised.”
Emma sighed. She squinted across the lake. “Do you hear that? There’s some sort of resonance.”
Corey stood motionless. “Sounds like music. Very distant.”
She pointed. “It seems to come from the woods on the other side of the lake. And it’s not just music. It’s violin music.”
“So it seems…” Corey seemed mesmerized by the plane. “That looks like a Cessna 150,” he said, walking over to it. Emma followed him. It was a tiny, toy-like plane. Inside the cockpit, there were only two seats.
“Did I tell you my father was a pilot?” Corey asked, opening the door.
“No,” Emma said softly.
“He died in a plane crash. I’m wearing his jacket.”
“I’m sorry,” Emma murmured, feeling her heart contracting. “I lost my dad, too. I don’t remember him. I was too young.”
He stared at her for a moment, his face serious, intense. “I’m sorry, too.” He climbed into the plane. “It’s warmer inside. Come. Jump in.”
Emma grasped his hand and hopped inside the cockpit. They settled side by side with Corey at the controls.
Corey ran a hand across the instrument panel, inspecting the gauges and switches. “My dad left me dozens of books on aviation and airplanes. Once, when I was little, he even gave me a flying lesson. I still remember his every word, the exact pitch and tone of his voice.”
Watching his beautiful profile, Emma was overcome with a strong emotion she wasn’t able to identify. She admired his intelligence and inner strength. She had to admit it...she was irresistibly drawn to him.
“I’ve been studying flying manuals for so long I’ve memorized the lines from cover to cover,” he went on.
Keeping in mind the way he effortlessly remembered lines from Holmes, she believed him.
“You should fasten your seatbelt,” he said, fastening his own.
She looked at him sharply. “You’re not flying this thing, are you?”
“But—but you’ve never flown a plane before!”
“I told you, I’ve been studying how to fly planes for years. These over here are the airspeed and attitude indicators; this one is the altimeter; that’s the vertical airspeed indicator over there; these are the throttle and mixture controls; and this here is the ignition switch.” He pointed as he talked. “This will be a piece of cake.”
“Studying how to fly a plane and actually flying a plane are two completely different things.”
Ignoring her protests, he played with a couple of flaps and turned on the ignition.
“That does it. I’m getting off. You can stay and play pilot if you want to,” Emma scoffed, jumping off the plane.
“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?”
She turned around to face him. “I’m not flying a plane with you, Corey. I’m going to check out the woods and call Annika. Maybe she’s in there somewhere and she’ll hear me.”
Without waiting to hear his reply, Emma headed in the direction of the forest. “Annika!” she called. “Annika!”
When she was midway between the plane and the edge of the woods, a long mournful cry cut through the stillness. Emma froze in mid step.
Okay. Maybe it was just one wolf.
Before she could follow that thought another howl broke through the air. And then another. And another. Worst of all, the yowls and yelps seemed to be getting closer.
Emma glanced behind her shoulder and saw Corey hop off the plane. “Um... Emma? I think you’d better get back.”
She looked back to the woods just in time to see a pack of wolves emerge from the trees and bound in her direction.
“RUUUUNNN!” Corey shouted.
She felt the blood drain from her face. She spun around and ran as fast as her legs would carry her.
“Start that plane!” she screamed.
Corey climbed back into the cockpit and a moment later the propeller started turning.
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God...” Emma chanted, leaping into the plane and rummaging for the seatbelt with shaky hands.
“Ready?” he asked over the roar of the engine as the propeller began to turn faster and faster.
Emma looked at the vast expanse of lake before them. “You better know what you’re doing or we’ll end up kibble for whatever creatures or purple monsters live under these waters.”
“Either that or the wolves.” Suddenly his serious face broke into a cocky smile. “Trust me.”
About the Author
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. She's represented by Serendipity Literary. She lives in Belgium with her husband of 25+ years, 2 wonderful kids, and her two beloved pets. When she's not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.