She cast a look behind her, toward the mounted animals and the banister with its sad skull. If she wanted, she could walk back up the stairs. She could tell her father about the cellar key and Mrs. Ichalar's hobby and the curious rose infestation. But then the key would be confiscated and the mysterythe whole adventurewould be over.
A faint snatch of music murmured in her ear. It must have come from the kitchen above, except it wasn't the usual hoarse violins, but a sweet, soft humming that made her think of Summerhill, and deep woods, and secret maps. Lin's throat clenched. She did not want the adventure to end, not yet. Before she had time to reconsider, she pressed her lips together, stepped forward, and thrust the Twistrose key into the wall.
It fit perfectly in the crack. As she turned it, there was no click, but she felt something slide into place in there. No. Dislocate was a better word, like something had been pried apart that was never meant to be separated. Freeza ing air poured against her fingers, along with a flicker of blue, shimmering light.
Whatever lay on the other side of this wall, it was not the riverbank.
Fear came crashing into her body with painful thumps. She wanted to turn and run, but all of a sudden, the spindly roots shot out and grasped her, winding hard around her arms, wresting the flashlight from her hand. The bricks split apart with a tremendous crack. A torrent of icy air rushed out to meet her. The roots tightened, pulling her toward the opening, but Lin was too astounded by the sight beyond the wall to put up much of a fight.
There was no cellar, and no riverbank, either. Instead she looked out on a desolate, frozen mountain valley, where winter twilight painted the snow blue, and stern peaks rose into the sky. A creature crouched in the snow before her, facing away, but so close that she could smell it: a musky scent. Now it turned toward her. Lin watched helplessly as an elongated face came into view. Two needlelike teeth glinted in its mouth, and a pair of liquid, black eyes stared back at her.
Then the creature darted forward. With a fast, clawed grip it pulled Lin free of the roots and into its pungent embrace.
Excerpted from The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell. Copyright © 2013 by Tone Almhjell. Excerpted by permission of Dial Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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