The Supernatural Pet Sitter by Diane Moat
(The Magic Thief, #1)
Publication date: March 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Middle-Grade
Pepper Neely is better at this than most, especially because she is in charge of pet sitting all the familiars in her neighborhood. A familiar is a pet magically linked to a witch or warlock. As a gnome, Pepper is no stranger to spells and sorcery. She also knows that, despite their special name, familiars aren’t all that different from regular animals. They get anxious when separated from their people, so Pepper uses her special gnome powers to calm them down. She watches Cranky the high-strung ferret, Frank the laid-back parrot, King Arthur the elderly tortoise, and many others.
Then, something terrible begins happening to the familiars. Someone is stealing their magic! It not only prevents Pepper from communicating with them but breaks their magical connection with their people. When King Arthur’s magic is stolen, his owner’s powers stop working too. Pepper can sense that the tortoise is very scared.
In order to protect the animal’s magic, Pepper decides to track down the culprit. With the help of her best friend, Luna, and her brother, Jax, Pepper fights to protect all of the special pets.
Familiars don’t do well when they are separated from their witches. That was how Pepper got into the business of pet sitting. Gnomes have a low-level connection with all supernatural animals. Gnomes are kind of like the Dog Whisperer, except that they communicate well with Familiars, basilisks (a magical lizard), unicorns and so on, rather than the more usual “pets”.
Pepper’s business of helping witches by taking care of their Familiars had boomed over the past year. Thank goodness she wasn’t sitting for the McCrorys last month when “it” happened.Mr. McCrory was an accountant and Mrs. McCrory worked part-time at the downtown Dewitt Mall. Their two kids lived away at college. Mrs. M’s Familiar was a huge, bright-green-and-blue parrot named Frank. Pepper had only checked on the parrot once when the McCrorys drove their kids to their out-of-state campus several months earlier. Frank didn’t cause any trouble, so the job was easy money.
Supposedly, Mrs. M was at work one day last month when she had a “bad feeling” that prompted her to go home to check on Frank. The house seemed undisturbed, and everything looked fine at first. But when Mrs. M went to Frank’s cage, she found him looking away from her. He wouldn’t even turn around when she called his name. When she walked around the cage to greet Frank face-to-face, he had only ducked and bobbed his head the way a normal parrot would. But Frank wasn’t normal.
Next, Mrs. M had reached out to the Familiar with her magic, but got no response from him. Not only that, but she said she had trouble focusing, and even her own magic had felt weak. With hands trembling, she had picked up Frank to try again. Nothing. Since that day, Frank’s magic was gone, and Mrs. M’s magic was broken.