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  • Written by Frank Portman
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  • Written by Frank Portman
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Written by Frank PortmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Frank Portman


List Price: $9.99


On Sale: August 25, 2009
Pages: 432 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89095-6
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: August 25, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7393-6293-8
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From Frank Portman, author of the cult classic King Dork that John Green says "will rock your world", comes a novel about Andromeda Klein, who has a few problems of her own.

Her hair is kind of horrible.

Her partner-in-occultism, Daisy, is dead.

Her secret, estranged, much older and forbidden boyfriend-in-theory, has gone AWOL.

And her mother has learned how to text.

In short, things couldn't get much worse. Until they do. Daisy seems to be attempting to make contact from beyond, books are starting to disappear from the library, and then, strangely and suddenly, Andromeda's tarot readings are beginning to predict events with bizarrely literal accuracy.

Omens are everywhere. Dreams; swords; fires; hidden cards; lost, broken, and dead cell phones . . . and what is Daisy trying to tell her?

In the ensuing struggle of neutral versus evil, it's Andromeda Klein against the world, modern society, demonic forces, and the "friends" of the library.

From the Hardcover edition.


The Universe is huge. The Universe is complex. Everything in it is connected to everything else. And it knows who you are and sometimes wants to show you things.

Andromeda Klein's front wheel sliced through a shallow puddle, spattering yet more mud on her boot ankle, glazing the grassy embankment on the left side of the bike path.

"Trismegistus," she said under her breath, invoking the Egyptian god Thoth, lord of language and magic, and, if the theories of Mrs. John King van Rensselaer were to be believed, the god upon whose ancient temple at Hermopolis the book now known as the tarot was based. This oath, an expression of frustration, had nothing to do with the puddle or the boots: muddy boots are nothing but bad-ass. It was rather an offhand, grumpy plea for insight, for clarity. And the answer came almost immediately into view: a discarded half-crushed Styrofoam take-out box floating in a flooded storm drain had two plastic knives lying crossed on top of it.

"Okay, I get it," she muttered. The Two of Swords. She had drawn it from her tarot deck in the girls' bathroom before leaving school that day, and here it was again floating in the gutter. And with a box, to boot. Sometimes the Universe was subtle; other times it hit you over the head like it thought you were stupid.

One dream, one card, an otherworldly instant message, and dozens of synchs involving swords, boxes, and the vexing case of Twice Holy Soror Daisy Wasserstrom: it had been an unusually weedgie week. She rose from the seat to pedal up the hill.

The Universe, continued the silent lecture in her head, chooses to show itself in tiny flashes, revealing connections amongst its diverse elements at odd moments. Coincidence! say the unobservant or the spiritually obtuse, when they notice them at all. And such they are: points where aspects of reality coincide, or overlap, from this or that perspective. But educated people, adepts and scholars, seers and magicians--the weedgie people--know them as synchs, since the common understanding of coincidence implies something accidental, and there are no accidents.

"So what do you think would happen, Dave," Andromeda continued, out loud now, practicing a well-rehearsed portion of her tarot lecture, "to an adept armed with a perfect model of the Universe?" Dave Klein was Andromeda's cat, upon whom she often practiced her orations, and to whom she tended to address them without regard to his physical presence. He was a tough audience, either way. And his steely stare would, she imagined, prepare her for the hostile response of many of her students, when, far in the future, she would deliver her notorious series of lectures on magic theory and practice in a hidden underground hall in the secret labyrinth beneath the Warburg Institute in London.

The answer, was, of course, that such a model of the Universe in the hands of the skilled adept became a laboratory for generating and observing synchs at several times their naturally occurring rate. In the ancient Temple of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus--itself a compact model of the Universe--magicians cast rods or arrows on the central altar and noted the results, which temple symbols they pointed to and in what number, teasing out the significant synchs and interpreting them. The modern tarot pack was in a sense a portable temple. Shuffling and laying out the cards invited such synchs, grand and trivial, though interpreting them was never a straightforward matter.

That was Andromeda Klein's best, simplest answer for why and how the tarot "worked," aware though she was that her views on the matter were controversial. The tarot was a collapsible temple, a laboratory, a synch factory. If anyone ever bothered to ask, she would be ready. And this answer would figure prominently in her Warburg lectures, to be published in volumes III through IV of her soon-to-be-celebrated, as-yet-unwritten work of magical history, theory, and practice, Liber K.

The main road in front of the school parking lot had no bike lane. This period immediately after school let out was perilous. It was impossible to know for certain which _after-school clusters of students would be overtly hostile, but it was wise to avoid them all, just in case. This required a zigzag pattern, crossing from one side of the street to the other as necessary. They could throw rocks at you or even thrust a stick through your spokes to knock you off your bike, and then . . . well, it had never happened to her, but she'd seen it happen to others, and she didn't want to find out what they would do next. A few kids yelled at her unintelligibly at she zipped past, or at least, she was pretty sure she was the one they were yelling at. Some unpleasant variation on her name, perhaps, or the perennial favorite "No-Ass." It was nice of them to take the time to bring it to her attention, but Andromeda Klein, as it happened, needed no reminder of that particular deficiency. She was well aware.

Andromeda Klein sliced through yet another shallow puddle and whisper-shouted "A.E.!" It is probable that she was the only student at Clearview High School, and perhaps the only person in Clearview itself, who had a favorite _nineteenth-_century occultist; and of those anywhere in the world to whom it might have occurred to make such a list, it is doubtful that many would have put A.E. first. But A. E. Waite, the gentle, sad-eyed, reluctant magician, was one of Andromeda Klein's heroes. In his own way, he was as misunderstood as the very misunderstood Mr. Crowley, who owed quite a lot to A.E.'s direction and influence, yet who had, as a theorist, magician, and writer, overshadowed and outpaced him in every way. And who had, incidentally, despised and ridiculed him. Andromeda's heart went out to people who were overshadowed and outpaced and ridiculed and despised. She even fake-believed the dubious notion that such people might be destined to have the last laugh in the end. So she said "A.E." on occasion, as a kind of casual invocation. In high-spirited moments, she and Twice Holy Daisy Wasserstrom used to giggle-shriek it, confusing the masses and emphasizing the exclusivity of their Society of Two.

Andromeda could imagine other magicians of note, long since dead, looking down from their star thrones and snorting derisively at A.E.'s finicky writing and innovations on the customary design of the "small cards," the minor arcana. (An exception was Dame Frances Yates, who appeared, like Andromeda, to have a bit of a crush on him.) Mr. Crowley's deck might have been more theoretically sound, but A.E.'s was the deck Andromeda had learned on and still used, so the image on the card of the day was his design, painted per his instructions by Pamela "Pixie" Colman Smith in 1909 e.v.

From the Hardcover edition.
Frank Portman

About Frank Portman

Frank Portman - Andromeda Klein

Photo © Bobby Jordan

“Why did you decide to write a Young Adult Novel?”

That's usually the first question you get when someone learns you have written a book like King Dork. One way to respond is to say: "I've only written the one book. But I've read… several." Said in the right way, it can be pretty funny. You pause, make your eyes go a bit wry, yet serious, and slightly emphasize the word "several." See, "several" sounds like too few books to have read when you're going around saying you're an author. But of course, the questioner thinks, he could be kidding. Couldn't he? If things go according to plan, the next question will be: "What is your favorite book you've ever read?" You can answer with a question of your own: "you mean all the way through?" Then look a bit stumped. With any luck, the original question will have been forgotten by then, and you can go back to whatever you were doing.

But I'm going to break with my usual policy here and be perfectly honest: the reason for trying to wriggle out of that question by acting like an idiot is that I don't know the answer. It's not like I "decided" to write a YA novel. The way it happened was, I had misspent pretty much my entire life writing songs for my punk rock band. I had a cult following. One former cult member became a literary agent when he grew up (they do that sometimes - grow up, I mean) and he had the idea that the sort of characters, themes, and turns of phrase that pop up in my songs of arrested adolescent angst might make a pretty good book. I was skeptical but I said I'd give it a shot. I procrastinated for a long, long time. Then one day I started typing and, somehow, through a process I neither understand nor even really remember all that well, the stuff I was typing turned into a novel about a teenager. And, voilà, (if, voilà is the right word), I became a YA novelist. Actually, voilà is definitely not the right word, because it took almost two years in the end, and it was kind of hard. It was like watching grass grow while hitting your head against a rock.

To continue the unfamiliar technique of being perfectly honest, I'll admit something else: I have, in fact, read a lot more than several YA novels. Like many kids with no friends, I spent a whole lot of time reading. I mean, books were my friends, and I would commune with them in the hallowed halls of my Imagination. Not really - that was a kind of joke. But I had a lot of time on my hands, and what else are you going to do when there's nothing on TV? Like most people, I began flirting with the YA genre by reading the sexy books that I was supposed to be too young for, particularly the ones about girls (there weren't actually all that many sexy ones concerning boys) as a kind of research project for a potential future career as a Great Lover of Women. Most of what I imagined I learned about girls and human relationships from these books, admittedly, turned out to be almost wholly inaccurate, but never mind. Then, when I was the age you're supposed to be when you read teen lit, I tended to avoid it and read "adult books" and "classics" instead.

Then as an older teenager, I worked at the local public library. That job was, once again, like being a kid with no friends, in that I tended to have a lot of time on my hands. So, for something to do in the down time, I assigned myself a little project of reading every book in the Children's Fiction section, from beginning to end, in alphabetical order. I didn't love them all, but I loved a lot of them. (My favorites were darker, psychological studies like those of Robert Cormier, or ultra-wacky stuff like Ellen Raskin—but I gave everything a shot.) I continued to read YA books through my alleged adulthood. And now I read them not only for enjoyment and what I think they call "enrichment," but also out of professional interest, i.e., checking out the competition.

I have been too young, too old, then way too old, but in a lifetime of doing things I'm technically not supposed to do, few forbidden experiences have been as powerful, as inspiring, or as cool as this habit of always reading the wrong books. And now I'm writing them, too. Long live age-inappropriateness.


Praise for Andromeda Klein:

[STAR] "With impish prose and ridiculously researched detail, Portman fully fleshes a one-of-a-kind character."-Booklist, Starred

"Andromeda is a compelling character...[with] unique and likable flavor."-Kirkus Reviews

"Portman's depiction of Andromeda's struggles in her claustrophobic world is skilled and affectionate...[readers] will find plenty of food for thought."-Publishers Weekly

"A vivid portrait of Andromeda...the teen addresses a variety of issues, from censorhsip to frienship to parental involvemnt."-School Library Journal

From the Hardcover edition.
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