Avalon High Summary

Meg Cabot

Avalon High

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Avalon High Summary

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Meg Cabot’s young adult novel Avalon High (2005) blends a modern narrative with medieval fantasy, describing a high school whose seemingly typical social problems escalate to a tipping point, revealing a supernatural connection to the mythos of King Arthur’s court. When Ellie, a new student, moves into town and is thrown into the fray, she scrambles to find her own place in the narrative and to avoid a grim, medieval fate. The novel was succeeded by a manga series published in three volumes titled Avalon High: Coronation.

The novel begins as Ellie Harrison moves from Minnesota to Annapolis, Maryland at the beginning of her junior year of high school. Both her parents, professors of medieval studies, plan to use the next year for an academic sabbatical. The Harrisons move to Annapolis in late summer, before the school year starts. Ellie, reluctant to leave her old life and friends, rejects the notion that she should make friends. However, she happens to run into three people her age while on a run in the park. She is startled when one of them, a boy with dark hair, looks at her as if they know each other.

Beginning school at Avalon High, Ellie finds that the kids from the park are her classmates. They include cheerleader Jen Gold and football guard Lance Reynolds. The dark haired boy is Will Wagner, Jen’s boyfriend and a football quarterback. The first week of school, Will appears at Ellie’s house, having been assigned to her as a guide. They quickly form a camaraderie, and Ellie resolves to join the track team. She learns from her new teammates that Will has been suffering from emotional issues due to his wealthy military father’s recent remarriage to the wife of his best friend. Will tells a similar story to Ellie, adding that he is upset that his father is trying to force him to go to the Naval Academy, foreclosing the opportunity to make an actual difference in the world.

In World Literature class, Ellie is partnered with Lance to present about a medieval figure called the Lady of Shalott. Uninterested in the subject, she writes the project outline and turns it in. Mr. Morton reacts bizarrely to her submission, demanding that she and Lance report to him for a disciplinary hearing. That same weekend, Ellie learns that Jen has been hooking up with Lance without Will’s knowledge. She also meets Will’s troubled brother, Marco, learning that he was expelled the previous year after attacking Mr. Morton. Marco invites her to go sailing with him and Jen, Lance, and Will. Though wary, she agrees. On the boat, Marco reveals Jen and Lance’s affair. Will grows closer to Ellie, who comforts him about his breakup.

Ellie arrives at Mr. Morton’s office the next morning for her disciplinary meeting. Strangely, Lance is absent, and Mr. Morton seems extremely uneasy. He tells her that he belongs to a secret society called the Order of the Bear, and he believes that the resurrection of King Arthur is imminent. He rushes out of school; unsatisfied with his partial explanation, Ellie tracks him to his house, where she finds him packing to flee the country. Mr. Morton explains that the Order is convinced that Will is King Arthur’s reincarnation. Moreover, Lancelot has been reincarnated in the form of Lance, Guinevere as Jennifer, and Mordred as Marco. The revelation that Lance and Jen betrayed Will closely matches Lancelot and Guinevere’s betrayal of King Arthur. Mr. Morton urges Ellie to escape Avalon and let Marco destroy Will, lest Ellie finds herself in the role of Elaine of Astolat, who died in the Arthurian myth after falling in love with the king. Ellie condemns Mr. Morton for abandoning his students and leaves.

Ellie returns to school and locates Jen in a bathroom, sobbing. Jen tries to convince Ellie to go after Will. She finds Mr. Morton in a meeting with Will and his stepmother, Jean. Marco interrupts the meeting and discovers that Jean is Will’s real mother. He storms out of the school and Will follows him. That night, Jean calls Ellie informing her that the two boys are still missing. Ellie fears that Marco will try to kill Will, fulfilling the prophecy, and leaves to find them, taking a relic sword that her father is researching.

Ellie rushes through a brewing storm and eventually finds Will at a ravine in the local park. After an exchange of words, they kiss, but are cut short by the appearance of Marco, brandishing a gun. He points it at Will, blaming him for his father’s death and his feelings of being an inferior half-brother. Will tells Ellie to escape; instead, she tosses him the sword just as Marco fires his gun. Will avoids the bullet, and Marco drops the gun in confusion. Jen, Lance, and Mr. Morton appear with a police squad that arrests Marco.

The group convenes at Ellie’s house, and Mr. Morton tells Ellie he regrets thinking she could not avert the disaster. He tells her that Marco is no longer channeling Mordred’s spirit and that the Order will look after Will. He also tells Ellie that he was wrong about her identity: she is actually more likely to be the reincarnation of the Lady of the Lake, who gave the sword Excalibur to King Arthur. Just then, Will appears, having been disowned after rejecting his father’s demand to attend the Naval Academy. The Harrisons decide to house him, and he and Ellie begin a romantic relationship. At the novel’s end, Ellie reflects on the uncanny similarity between the past few months of her life and the story of King Arthur. Avalon High thus comprises a modern update of the original myth, renewing it within the story of a seemingly normal high school whose various dramas are less innocuous, and more epic, than they originally seem.