12.84 Gina Damico Rogue (Croak)

ISBN 13: 9780544108844

Rogue (Croak)

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( su 2.391 valutazioni fornite da Goodreads )
 
9780544108844: Rogue (Croak)

Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, has the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.
     The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed . . . but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.

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About the Author:

Gina Damico is the author of Hellhole, Wax, and the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two cats, one dog, and an obscene amount of weird things purchased from yard sales. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue
Grotton wondered, for a brief moment, if there were a special circle of hell reserved for someone like him—or if Dante would have to cobble together an entirely new one.
   “Please,” the farmer at his feet moaned. “Please.”
   Other than delivering a small kick to shut the man up, Grotton ignored him and went back to his task. He had to keep his wits about him, or this would never work.
   The heavy smoke had darkened the thatched roof of the farmer’s hut, but some small bits of light had begun to edge back in. Grotton picked up his scythe—a heavy stone made from lead, forged by his own two hands. The best blacksmith in the village, they’d called him, back before the rumors started.
   He smiled at the irony, how the only people who were able to confirm that the rumors were true never lived long enough to tell anyone.
   Case in point: the cowering, dirty wretch on the ground, worlds away from the puffed-up, righteous man he’d been up until a few moments before, as if someone had pricked him and let all the air out. Every few moments his gaze would dart to the two still lumps beside him, but he’d quickly squeeze his eyes shut and let out another whimper.
   “I was only protecting our village,” he moaned. “With a demon in our midst—”
   “I’m not a demon.” Grotton knew better than to engage in conversation with the brute, but the words came regardless. “I hurt no one.”
   The farmer looked up at him, a swath of greasy hair falling over his eyes. “A demon,” he insisted. “Stalking through the night, taking the souls of—”
   “Of people who are already dead.”
   Dead and cold and filling with mold, his students liked to say. There’d certainly been no shortage of test subjects for them—the Great Plague had made sure of that. They’d called themselves reapers, which Grotton had found amusing at first—and, as their experiments continued with increased success, oddly appropriate. He was glad his students had not been identified; perhaps they’d be able to rejoin him after he fled the village.
   After he’d taken care of this one loose end.
   “You hurt no one?” the farmer growled. Perhaps he knew what awaited him; but then again, even Grotton did not know. They were breaking fresh ground today, the two of them—the scientist and his lab rat. “How can you say that?”
   “You mistake my words,” said Grotton. “I hurt no one—until today.”
   To illustrate this, he administered another kick, this time to one of the little lumps lying next to the man. That did it—whatever small amounts of bravado the man had conjured now melted away. He dissolved into sobs, putting his thick hands over his eyes to block the view of the blood seeping out of his children’s skulls in thin rivulets, draining to the sunken center of the floor.
   “Please,” he said again. “Mercy.”
   “Mercy?” Grotton almost laughed. “Like the kind you showed my family?” He knelt down to look the man in the eye and spoke calmly and evenly. “Setting fire to a man’s home, roasting his wife and children alive—that sort of mercy?”
   “I thought you were with them . . . We needed to be rid of you, all of you, demons—”
   Grotton slapped him across the face. The man went quiet.
   Grotton stood back up and wiped his red-stained hands on a towel. “I already have shown you mercy.”
   The man made a noise of disbelief. “How?”
   “Your children,” Grotton explained in a measured voice, “are merely dead.” He walked over to another heap on the ground, this one charred and black. “Your wife did not fare as well; she is Damned, her soul in unbearable pain as we speak.”
   The farmer cried out, no doubt replaying in his mind the way Grotton’s hands had squeezed her skin and set her on fire, black smoke bursting out of her body and filling the room.
   “Yet neither of those fates,” Grotton finished, “are as odious as yours will be.”
   By now the man could barely speak. “I—I—”
   “You set the fire,” Grotton said, his voice growing thick, the taste of revenge on his tongue. “You made your choice.”
   “No, please—”
   The scythe in Grotton’s hand was already black, but now an even denser shadow seemed to burst out of it, surrounding his hand—as if it were glowing, but with darkness instead of light. He raised it above his head, allowed himself one last look at the man’s terrified eyes, brought the blade down into his chest—
   And the room went dark.

“So all that really happened? What you did to the farmer, all those years ago?”
   Grotton nodded. “More or less.”
   A pause. “Think you can do it one more time?”
   “If you brought what I asked for.”
   His guest emptied the requested items onto the table. They clinked and bounced, producing a sound like wind chimes. “Here.”
   Grotton leaned forward, his face aglow in the light of the burning candle. “Then I believe we have a deal.”

1
Driggs’s hair was still wet.
   That’s the odd thought that popped into Lex’s head as they ran. She and Driggs and Uncle Mort were fleeing a mob of angry villagers—in the middle of the night, through a thick forest, and in a blizzard, no less—so it wasn’t as if there weren’t other things to focus on.
   Yet she couldn’t take her eyes off his hair, which had been that way since he’d died of hypothermia a few hours before. Shouldn’t it have dried a little by now? They’d stopped in Grotton’s relatively warm cabin long enough for at least some of it to have evaporated. But he still looked soaked, making his dark brown hair spikier and more chaotic than it usually was.
   Appropriate, Lex thought bitterly. Drowned hair, drowned life. Just when she thought she’d stumbled upon some evidence that proved Driggs hadn’t just been turned into a ghost—those fleeting moments when he went solid, his fingers physically brushing up against hers as they ran—here was this hair thing, slapping her in the face.
   Determined, Lex reached out for Driggs’s hand but grabbed only air—not because her aim was off, but because air was what his hand was made of at the moment. She slowed her sprinting pace to a jog and tried to look straight into his eyes, but the way his head was fading in and out of existence made it somewhat difficult to figure out where his eyes actually were.
   But she soon caught them—the blue one first, then the brown one. He forced a grin onto his face. “Working on it,” he said, panting as he ran.
   Lex swallowed and tried to look at the situation with a glass-half-full mentality. Except when your boyfriend has been turned into some type of weird part-ghost, part-human hybrid and it’s all your fault, the power of positive thinking becomes a bit of a challenge. “It’s really not that bad,” she lied through her teeth, contorting her face into something that resembled human happiness. She would be strong. She would not lose it, no matter how many creepy clown smiles she had to make. “It’s not.”
   “I know,” he lied right back. Just then, he popped into tangibility, shoving his hand into Lex’s and letting out a breath. “There. Easy.”
   “Easy?”
   “If the definition of easy has been changed to ‘extraordinarily strenuous,’ then yes.” He gave her another one of those awful grins. “Easy.”
   And Lex’s heart broke all over again, into a million pieces, probably tearing up all her other organs in the process.
   “Hurry up, you two,” Uncle Mort shouted from up ahead. “There’ll be plenty of time later for agonizing assessments of our cruel, cruel fate. That is, if we survive.” He turned back to glare at them as he ran. “Which, judging by your glacial pace, seems like something that I’m the only one trying to do.”
   The spectral white figure floating just behind Uncle Mort held up a single bony finger. “Actually, if we’re to be precise, I cannot technically survive if I am already—”
   “Dead?” Uncle Mort finished for him, shooting Grotton a rude sneer before surging on ahead. “Yes, we know.”
   The centuries-old ghost gave him a thorny smile. “Just pointing it out.”
   Lex and Driggs doubled their pace, winding through the dark trees that made up the woods surrounding Croak. Still, the mob of bloodthirsty townspeople wasn’t that far behind—Lex could hear their shouts echoing through the snow-laden trees into the cloudy night sky.
   “Keep going,” Uncle Mort yelled. “We’re almost out of the—”
   He stopped running so abruptly that Lex slammed into his back. Driggs’s hand was wrenched out of hers, and he instantly went transparent again, floating right past them. Grotton, meanwhile, chuckled to himself and drifted above everyone’s heads, crossing one leg over another as if patiently waiting for a train.
   Lex began to rub her nose from where it had smooshed against her uncle, but she stopped as soon as she saw why he had halted. “Oh, shitballs,” she whispered.
   Apparently only half of the townspeople had been pursuing them from behind. The other half had split off some time before, circled around, and were now coming at them from the other side, weapons drawn and at the ready. Norwood, the mutinous mayor, was at the front. His face was slick with sweat and loathing—unsurprising, given the fact that Lex had Damned his wife an hour prior. Standing beside him was Trumbull—the butcher who at one time had employed Zara but was now Norwood’s head goon—and Riley, she of the giant sunglasses and über-bitchery.
   Uncle Mort bristled. “Shitballs is right.”
   “Can we Crash yet?” Lex asked. Instantly scything out of there would be the best option, but she wasn’t sure it would work. “Are we out of range?”
   “No more Crashing,” Uncle Mort said. “Norwood being granted the ability to Damn has most likely caused a huge wave of new destruction in the Afterlife. Add that to all the other Damning that’s been going on lately, and the Afterlife is probably hanging on by a thread. We can’t risk damaging it further by Crashing.”
   Lex cringed. The Norwood thing had been her fault, too. She’d tried to Damn him, but had succeeded only in transferring some of her Damning power to him. And any time a Grim did something unnatural like that, a little bit more of the Afterlife eroded away.
   And any time that happened, her dead twin sister, Cordy, and all the other souls in the Afterlife got one step closer to disappearing altogether.
   “So . . . what’s the plan, then?” Driggs asked, the opaqueness of his body coming and going in waves now, possibly in time with his heartbeat.
   “Um—” Uncle Mort winced. “Hide.”
   Lex’s jaw dropped as Uncle Mort ducked behind a tree. “Hide?” she sputtered in disbelief, falling over her own feet as she tried to conceal herself. “That’s the best you can come up with?”
   He gave her a look. “You got a rocket launcher in that bag of yours? No? Then hide it is. Grotton, get down!” he shouted at the ghost, who was now floating higher and seemed to be glowing more brightly.
   Grotton lowered himself to the ground. “I was merely trying to provide a bit of light for your attempts at”—he let out a quiet snicker—“concealment.”
   Uncle Mort, suppressing the urge to reach up and smack the everdeathing snot out of their new companion, gritted his teeth. “Next time set off some fireworks, it’ll be more subtle.”
   A bang pounded through the air. Lex jumped, a fresh batch of goose bumps breaking out across her skin as she considered the possibilities of what could have made that noise. Seconds later it rang out again, followed by a series of slightly quieter staccato bursts of sound, like a machine gun. Then, oddly, a dry, wheezing noise, as if the machine gun were having an asthma attack.
   Lex squinted across the dark field and finally saw it—a tall puff of smoke slowly coming toward them. The worried line of Uncle Mort’s mouth crinkled into a smirk. “That crafty old bag.”
   “Crafty old what now?” Lex watched the slow-moving cloud, which was now weaving back and forth in wide, erratic curves. “What is that? A car?”
   “No,” said Uncle Mort, standing up. “That, my friend, is far too fine a contraption to be called a mere car.”
   “What then, a truck? A tank?”
   “Is it—” Driggs stopped himself, looking embarrassed.
   Lex looked at him. “Were you going to say Batmobile?”
   “I was maybe going to say Batmobile. What of it?”
   The townspeople didn’t seem to know what to make of the phenomenon either. They scrambled to get out of its way as it plowed toward them, some of them diving into the snow. Yet as the smoke picked up speed, something arose out of the murkiness—a glint of metal, a reflective glass surface—all the pieces eventually coming together to form something that was decidedly not even close to a Batmobile: a giant black hearse.
   Uncle Mort grinned. “The Stiff.
   The death car roared on, still sending townspeople left and right. It soon chugged to a stop where Uncle Mort had been standing not two seconds before, just as he’d shoved Lex and Driggs into a bush to avoid getting hit.
   The driver’s side window rolled down. “Sorry,” Pandora said. “Been a while since I drove the thing. The gearshift sticks.”
   “Yeah, must be the gearshift,” said Uncle Mort, brushing himself off. “Certainly not your pristine driving skills or the fact that you haven’t been licensed in decades.”
   “Is that sass? Are you sassing me?”
   “I would never.”
   “Dora!” Lex burst out in amazement. “I thought you were in hiding! How did you find out what’s going on?”
   “I haven’t the foggiest idea what’s going on!” the old coot shot back. “I saw the whole town riling themselves up like it was the second coming of Elvis, and figured that if trouble was afoot, then you three were probably smack-dab in the middle of it. So I grabbed the car, headed straight for the yelling, and lo and behold, here you are.” She smiled a toothless grin, quite pleased with herself. “Now get in before the unruly mob dents my paint job.”
   Driggs headed for the back-seat door and assum...

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Descrizione libro Harcourt Brace and Company, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, has the power to Damn souls, and it s getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it. The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed . . . but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780544108844

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Descrizione libro Harcourt Brace and Company, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, has the power to Damn souls, and it s getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it. The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed . . . but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780544108844

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