mattiefull240.jpg    Mattie
Mattie is an ordinary, everyday, maybe even humdrum type of eleven-year-old fifth-grader in 1968 at Fairmount Grammar School in Hackensack, New Jersey. Mainly, she likes to watch TV after school and drink hot chocolate with marshmallows.  She isn’t a popular girl, but she has fun with her friends Geeta and Eddie. Mattie’s dad, a professor of archaeology, died just before she was born. He had been on a very important quest in Nineveh in the Kingdom of Iraq when he died under mysterious circumstances. Her mother had to go to work at Sears in the Ladies' Hats and Accessories department. Magic wasn’t even a remote possibility in Mattie’s life. Not until that fateful rainy October day when Mattie opened up her father’s trunk in the attic to bring something for show-and-tell and discovered the Spyglass.  In becoming Mistress of the Spyglass, Mattie changes the River of Time and finds herself at the center of a great battle between the forces of good and evil.
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Spyglass
An entity from ancient times trapped in a heavy six-inch long, brass miniature telescope, the Spyglass across the eons has tempted those with the lure of power.  The Spyglass knows that free will is a commodity up for easy sale; it has bought it many times in the course of history. But each time it has made the mistake of choosing a corrupted soul that would destroy itself, and in a matter of time; and once again the Spyglass would become just an inert object. But not this time. Mattie is perfect. Innocent and with no ambition of power. It has chosen wisely. The Spyglass has traced backwards from Nineveh. It knows.  This time the Spyglass is going to occupy Mattie’s soul and become alive itself. But would it? For the secret of the Spyglass lies in the old Babylonian tale of Creation and Twin Tablets of Destiny.

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Eddie
Eddie has a face splat full of freckles and yellowish blond hair that sticks up in a cowlick in the back. He lives right across the street from Mattie, and they are friends. Eddie’s dad is out in Vietnam in the war. He is in the Army, and Eddie doesn’t like it if you leave it like that. “He’s Special Forces.” Eddie misses his dad a lot, Mattie can tell. Eddie also talks like he's in the Army. You can’t go out and just play; they're always out on “operations” with a “mission.” Eddie’s favorite thing to do is to sneak around “camouflaging” himself and spying on people. He calls this his “reconnaissance missions.” But the most important mission of his life happens when Mattie unleashes the wrath of fate by using the Spyglass.

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Geeta
Geeta is Indian (from India), has brown skin, two long black pigtails on either side of her head, and large glasses. She has an accent, having moved to Hackensack from Bombay, India. Geeta is Mattie’s friend too. Mattie calls her “The Brain.” Geeta lives right next door to Eddie and helps them both out with homework. Geeta’s dad is a scientist, and her mom stays at home and always seems to be cooking something. Geeta is very serious all the time and likes to read. She wears really thick black glasses and looks just what you’d think an owl would look like if it turned into a girl.  When hurled through the Space-Between-Seconds, it is Geeta who immediately understands that time has changed, and the fate of the three friends forever altered.

biddlefull240.jpg    Herman Biddle
Herman Biddle looks like a harmless old man — a bit old-fashioned perhaps, what with the whiskers around his chin and no mustache — working in the Furniture Department of Sears. Biddle is in fact a wizard in hiding.  The news of Paddy O’Reilly’s death in Nineveh reached him in the office of L. Rufus Wigglesworth, Chair of the Department of Archaeology at Columbia University.  Both knew at once that it was no accident, that Paddy had awakened dark forces.  Paddy’s wife Dottie and her soon-to-be-born child had to be protected.  In this they engaged Dottie, Mattie’s mom, to abandon her studies into the tale of Gilgamesh and give up a career in archaeology; it was simply too dangerous.  Hiding in Sears under the cloak of ordinariness, Biddle thinks he can protect Mattie’s mother.  Fifty years earlier Biddle himself flung the cursed Spyglass into the chasm of the red canyon in the caves of the palace of Ashurnasirpal, forever destroying it. Or so he thought.  But now, here it is again.  And in the hands of a hapless girl.  Not just any girl.  But Mattie, daughter of Paddy O’Reilly.  Biddle will have to face his fears and find courage in battling the villainous Gneezy, and bring to bear all the powers inherent in the White Book of Magic. If he can.
gneezyfull240.jpg     Uri Gneezy
Born at the cusp of the centuries in Siberia in the time of the rule of the Russian Czars, the old and cadaverous Uri Gneezy — with a head like a cobra and glittering eyes, one blue and one green — is a servant of the Master of Darkness.  Just as his twin brother has become the servant of the Master of Light. Gneezy’s mind is disciplined, and he sees how one could so easily control others with just one thing — fear.  Uri as a young boy learned from his father what not to do.  His father evoked fear, but it was that of a growling dog.  Beat it with a stick, and the animal was subdued.  No, Uri thought.  Fear that controlled could not be hot in emotion like rage.  It needed to be cold and pure — a steel knife through the heart.  This he learned quickly and soon became the holder of the Book of Black Magic.  But Uri wants only the Spyglass and the right to eternal life and power over all that it promises.  And all that stands in his way is the simpering weak-willed wizard Herman Biddle, whose secret he knows.  He, Uri Gneezy, will destroy Biddle and the girl and capture the Spyglass as its rightful owner.

Illustrations by Dan Ungureanu