Molly must rescue her mum and dad when they disappear after a magic trick goes wrong.
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On the eve of her ninth birthday, Molly Miggins visits the funfair where her parents are due to perform a live magic show. Molly's mum is a High Witch and her father is a stage magician who uses real magic.
During the performance the disappearing trick goes badly wrong and both of Molly's parents vanish. Molly meets a wizard who tells her that only she can rescue them.
To succeed in her quest Molly must become a junior witch and try to find a way into the mysterious 'void' where her parents have been trapped. At the witches academy Molly is given an ancient, damaged wand called, Wonky, but because of a slight twist in the wand Molly finds it almost impossible to aim a spell accurately. Can Molly master the wand and rescue her parents before the wizard’s deadline or will the nasty tricks and traps he has placed in her way prevent her from fulfilling her quest?
Molly ran to the side of the stage and began to climb the steps. There had to be some mistake, she thought. Mum and Dad must be there somewhere. As she placed her foot on the second step everything seemed to freeze and the noise of the fairground was silenced. Molly turned around and saw Jenny frozen to the spot, still pointing at the stage.
A thick mist began to form. Molly lost her bearings and tumbled down from the steps. As she picked herself up she heard a deep voice behind her.
'Yes, that's me,' said Molly nervously.
'Molly Miggins, the daughter of the High Witch?'
'Still me,' said Molly as she turned to face the voice.
The voice belonged to a tall man with a long, flowing beard. He wore a wizard's robe covered in large silver stars, and a pointy hat with a crescent moon on the front. He held a thick stick with an ornate handle.
'You seem to know a lot about me,' said Molly.
The wizard stooped forward and smiled at Molly, a twinkle appeared in his eye as he spoke.
'The Magic Council sent me. Molly Miggins, you have been appointed a task.'
'I've done all my tasks,' said Molly. 'I helped with the dishes this morning and I cleaned my room last Tuesday. I only had to be reminded twice.'
The wizard shook his head. 'For this particular task, you will need to be a witch.'
'Ah,' said Molly. 'I can't help you then, sorry. They won't let me take the Witches Promise until I'm ten and I'm not even nine until tomorrow.'
The wizard was insistent. 'Tomorrow you must become a witch.'
'I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think you're listening,' said Molly, I'm nine tomorrow, not ten. You can't take the promise until you are ten.'
'I think you are the one not listening, Molly Miggins,’ said the wizard. The task has been assigned, it cannot be refused. You must fulfil it, or fail.'
He handed Molly a scroll tied up with a red ribbon.
'Tomorrow morning you must contact the academy and ensure that your name is on the candidates list for the Witches Promise ceremony that takes place in the afternoon.'
The Witches Academy won't take anyone until they are ten, it's the rules,' protested Molly. 'My friend Gwyneth couldn't get in and her birthday was only a day late.'
'There are certain procedures that can be put in place if the daughter of a witch is given a task,' said the wizard. 'You must contact the academy in the morning and arrange your place on the candidates list for the afternoon. You have been given a task, they will not refuse you.'
'I'll try,' said Molly, but they won't take my word for it. I'll need proof.'
'You have the parchment, Molly Miggins, it is all the proof that you need. The details of the task are woven into it. It cannot be copied or altered.'
Molly began to get excited. ‘It would be really good to become a witch a year early. What do I have to do to complete the task?'
The wizard held out his hands and shrugged his shoulders. 'You must rescue your parents of course, what else?'
Molly's mouth gaped open. 'Why would they need rescuing? Have they been kidnapped or something?'
The wizard stroked his beard and looked at Molly solemnly. 'No, they have not been kidnapped, they are safe and well, don't worry about that. They have been sent to the void, the place where all failed magic goes.'
'The void? Failed magic? Did the trick go wrong?' asked Molly, not really understanding what the wizard meant.
'All failed magic is sent to the void,' repeated the wizard. 'The vanishing trick failed, I don't know why, but it did. You must find a way to get them back. This is your appointed task, Molly Miggins.'
'How will I find my way in?' asked Molly with a worried look on her face.
'You will use your new-found skills and powers, of course. After the Witches Promise ceremony you will automatically receive some magic power. When you have selected and bonded with your new wand, you will be able to use certain spells. Succeed in your task and you will be granted further magical abilities. Think of it as a fast track program. You may well end up with powers that you could not hope to attain until your second or third year at the academy. The Magic Council rewards success handsomely.'
Molly's voice dropped to a whisper. 'What happens if I fail the task?'
The wizard leant on his stick and looked into Molly's eyes. 'Do not even contemplate failure, Molly Miggins.'
'Should you fail, there will be consequences.'
Molly gulped. 'Consequences?'
'Should you fail,' repeated the wizard, 'only one parent will return, the other will remain in the void.'
'That's not fair,' said Molly.
'Then ensure you do not fail,' replied the wizard. 'Now, I must go, I have urgent business to attend. Farewell, Molly Miggins, we may meet again.'
'But I need to...'
There was a flash of light as the wizard disappeared.
As quickly as it had appeared, the mist cleared and the sounds of the fair returned. Molly turned to find Jenny standing beside her. She pointed to the parchment in Molly's hands.
'What have you got there?' she asked.
'The future,' replied Molly.