Paige and her adventurous Aunt Glo inherit a country inn from eccentric GeeGee. They pack up and hit the road, arriving at the charming place they both loved since childhood. Finally! They can get into the secret room in the basement that GeeGee kept locked! They discover it’s a wonderful library filled to the brim with mystery books. But more than the room was a secret – it’s a magical place that houses enchanted books. Paige and Glo find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a murder mystery, along with a motley group of book club friends. The club will need to work together to solve the case in order to get out of the book and back to their home.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said the locksmith. He took a step back and scratched his head. He’d been at it for twenty minutes and still hadn’t opened the door. “It doesn’t make sense. This takes a skeleton key. It should be a simple task. People can do it with a couple of Allen wrenches. I’ve even done it with a pair of paperclips.”
“So, what do we do now?” Glo asked.
“Best thing is to contact a carpenter. Since the hinges are inside, he’ll have to drill the lock. It’ll destroy the lock and damage your door, though.”
“We don’t have much choice. We want to get into the room, so we’ll have to do it,” I said.
After the locksmith left, we looked up a couple of local contractors, but any openings were days away. We texted Theo but hadn’t heard back from him yet.
We decided to start the day by sorting out the kitchen. There were plenty of dishes and dry goods, but the organization was an absolute mess.
“How in the world did she work in this disaster?” Glo mumbled. “You’d spend half your time searching for things!” She was emptying out a cabinet. She pulled out an odd assortment of dishes, pots, cleaning supplies, and canned goods. She started to laugh and held up a hundred-piece puzzle in one hand and a shoeshine kit in the other.
“Now this makes perfect sense.” She was snorting. “Make dinner, clean up, shine your shoes and do a puzzle.”
I held up a few treasures from the cabinet I was working on. “And here you go. In case you need a spare pair of socks, a stack of plastic containers – no lids – and printer ink.”
“It’s like a treasure hunt! It’s good for us to sort through all this anyhow.”
“True,” I agreed. “Then we’ll know what we’ve got. Let me find some paper and a pen and we’ll start a list of things we need.”
I began to sort through the typical drawers most people would use for things like pens and scratch paper, then groaned. “You know what’s in her junk drawers? Talcum powder, coffee creamer, clothespins, and aha! The soup bowls!”
“Where’s the very last place you’d look for a pen and paper? Try that first,” snickered Glo.
“Probably the bathroom,” I joked. “I’ll just make a list on my phone.”
I opened another cabinet and groaned at the stack of boxes and plastic containers jammed into every inch. They were filled with random stuff. I took them to the table and dumped them out.
“Holy Toledo! Glo, look at this!” I stood up and did a little dance around the kitchen. I shimmied over to her, then held up a very old-looking skeleton key.
~ ~ ~
“I feel like we should have a drum roll or a trumpet fanfare—”
“—or fireworks!” laughed Glo. “At least a countdown. Five … four … three … two … one! Blastoff!”
I turned the key and heard the click as it unlocked. “Houston, we have liftoff.”
I twisted the knob and pushed the door open. There was a set of stairs to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs was another door. We opened it. Impossibly, there was another set of stairs. At the bottom of those stairs was yet another door. It required a skeleton key to open. I stared at the key in my hand. “You better work,” I told the key.
The key worked smoothly, and I opened the door.
Our jaws dropped and neither of us spoke. You could have heard a cotton ball drop.
Finally, Glo broke the silence. “Holy macaroni! This is insane!”
“How could she have kept this secret our whole lives?” I wondered.
“WHY did she keep this secret?” Glo added.
“This room is the size of the entire house! It’s enormous. Ginormous!” I whistled.
“This secret space is underneath the inn! How is it two stories high? Is that even structurally sound? This is bizarre.”
The room was indeed two levels high, connected by a brass spiral staircase. In the front area, where we were glued to the spot, was a large seating area with eight cozy floral patterned armchairs. A beautiful wooden coffee table sat in the middle. There was an antique globe on a brass stand, and a stone fireplace like the one upstairs. This one had an intricately carved wood mantle and a stone hearth. A large statue of a woman holding a book was centered on the mantle.
“Look at all these books!” exclaimed Glo, spinning in a circle.
“This is the library GeeGee referred to in her will! Remember? She said she’s putting us in charge. That it’s priceless!”
“I am beyond confused, Paige. How is this even possible? GeeGee was just a sweet little innkeeper. She was the lady who baked us cookies and homemade stew. And she was hiding all this right under our feet?!”
Excerpt from Shifting and Shenanigans by Elizabeth Pantley. Copyright 2022 by Elizabeth Pantley. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Pantley. All rights reserved.
Elizabeth Pantley says that writing her Mystery and Magic book series is the most fun she’s ever had at work. Fans of the series say her joy is evident through the engaging stories she tells. Elizabeth is also the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful inspiration for her enchanted worlds.