Rogue (Croak Series #3)

( 17 )

Overview

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 ...

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Rogue (Croak Series #3)

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR ROGUE

"A gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gritty, honest and brave ending to an appealing trilogy."
Kirkus

"Fans of Croak and Scorch will be dying to get their hands on this third and final book about Lex and her teenage grim-reaper friends and relations."
VOYA, 3Q 4P J S

"The final installment of Damico's morbid and humorous 'Croak' trilogy . . . snarky comments between characters, humorous pop culture references, and quirky Afterlife denizens keep the story from being too heavy."
School Library Journal

PRAISE FOR CROAK

"Go ahead and die laughing, knowing that the safe transport of your mortal soul will be the summer job of a sweetheart teen with godlike power and discipline problems. A lot of books make me wish I could live within their pages, but I wouldn't mind dying in this one."
—Adam Rex, author of Fat Vampire

"Creepy and hilarious."
VOYA, 4Q, 5P

PRAISE FOR SCORCH

"An amusing blend of whimsy and humor with serious drama and blood."
Kirkus Reviews

"Characters are always as clever as we wish we were. . . . An irresistible blend of impending doom, irreverent humor, hormone-fueled make-out sessions, and creative world-building make this sequel stronger than its predecessor and will leave readers dying for the next book."
School Library Journal

VOYA - Sarah Flowers
Fans of Croak (Houghton Mifflin, 2012/Voya December 2011) and Scorch (Houghton Mifflin, 2012/Voya October 2012) will be dying to get their hands on this third and final book about Lex and her teenage grim-reaper friends and relations. As the book opens, Lex's boyfriend, Driggs, is dead (although he still materializes and dematerializes at will); Grotton, the most evil grim of all time, has joined them; and Uncle Mort is leading them away from a mob of angry villagers and on a mission to seal the Afterlife off from the rest of the world by destroying its portals. This book is, after all, about grim reapers, so plenty of people die, including major characters, but for the most part, the repartee, the jokes, and the breezy style keep things from being too, well, grim. Fast-paced action, snarky and irreverent humor, and a fair amount of gore will propel readers along to the strong ending of this trilogy, which some readers may even find brings a tear to the eye. Rogue is definitely not a stand-alone, so be sure to offer the earlier novels first to readers who are new to Damico. Reviewer: Sarah Flowers
School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—The final installment of Damico's morbid and humorous "Croak" trilogy finds the Croakers (teenaged grim reapers with the ability to Damn souls) being tracked by townspeople angry over the trail of souls left by Lexi (and by Zara who had acquired Lexi's dark ability). The Afterlife is eroding because of the evils done by the infamous reaper, Grotton. To seal off any further damage, the group decides to openly rebel against the Grimsphere government by destroying the portals. Lexi has begun to feel the guilt of condemning so many souls to eternal, unbearable pain and for her twin sister's death. Conversations between her and Driggs-now part human/part ghost-are deep and thought provoking. Still, the snarky comments between characters, humorous pop culture references, and quirky Afterlife denizens keep the story from being too heavy. There is plenty of action as Norwood and his allies pursue the group, but along the way acts of courage and loyalty bond Lexi and her friends even deeper. The various plotlines are tied up but not without great sacrifices. Fans of the "Harry Potter" series will enjoy the creative and secretive Grims' society, though this series is for older teens as it contains violence, mature language, and sexual inferences.—Sherry J. Mills, Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis, MO
Kirkus Reviews
Sarcastic--sometimes devastatingly so--repartee connects readers to the band of surly teenage grim reapers risking everything on their mission to save the Afterlife. Uncle Mort's plan to save the Afterlife by enlisting Junior Grims to help destroy the portals that access it is full of risks, loopholes and secrets--and fiery-tempered, impulsive Lex is the plan's unstable lynchpin. Combined, these elements set the stage for Damico (Croak, 2012; Scorch, 2013) to dispatch favorite characters to their untimely demises (a difficult but admirable choice that maintains the integrity of a novel about grim reapers). In spite of the necessary tragedies, Damico avoids complete bleakness by infusing characters' responses to nearly overwhelming odds with irreverent, brash humor (as Mort remarks, "If you can't have fun at the end of the damn world, when can you?"). The banter reminds readers of the resiliency of the human spirit and its astounding ability to create moments of normalcy (even joy) in the most trying of times. Yes, it's a novel about violence, hate and vengeance, but it's also about love, redemption and triumph. A quick refresher of the first two novels will help decrease confusion, as detailed reminders of events and characters from previous novels are scarce. A gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gritty, honest and brave ending to an appealing trilogy. (Fantasy. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544108844
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Series: Croak Series , #3
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 88,075
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Gina Damico

Gina Damico is the author of Hellhole, as well as 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 Western Massachusetts 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.

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Read an Excerpt

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 assumed the stance of a personal chauffeur. “Well, darling,” he told Lex in a fancy voice, “here we are, dripping wet and scared and running for our lives, and yet the tricked-out ride I reserved has arrived right on schedule. Now, if we can only make it in time for the crowning of prom king and queen—”
   Lex almost laughed, until the hand he was using to open the door disappeared, causing her to smack her head against the glass.
   Driggs’s face went red, even in its paler-than-usual state. “Dammit. Sorry.” He turned away from Lex, but not before she caught a glimpse of his throat moving up and down as if he were trying not to cry.
   She tried to grab his face between her hands, but that particular part of him wasn’t quite tangible. “Hey,” she barked instead, insistently positioning her eyes in front of his, no matter how he tried to squirm away. “I’m fine. And you’re going to be fine. This—all this—” She waved her hand around within his transparent torso. “It changes nothing. I still love you and cherish you and all that goopy shit that I will further expand upon when we’re not about to get disemboweled by a gang of pitchfork-wielding maniacs. Got that?”
   He blinked back at her, resolve slowly returning to his eyes. “Okay,” he said, but in such a little-boy-lost voice that Lex’s heart, now held together by the thinnest of threads, tore itself apart yet again. Surely there couldn’t be much of it left.
   Uncle Mort, who was watching all of this with a haunted expression that matched Lex’s—as opposed to Grotton, who was pretending to file his nails—shook all emotion from his face and pushed both Lex and Driggs through the door.
   The car smelled like a crime scene. There was a driver’s seat and a passenger’s seat, just as in a normal car, but the back end of the vehicle’s frame stretched out into a creepy open area with no seats to speak of. In their place, pelts of some sort of animal were draped across the floor, and the spaces in between were covered in what looked like approximately thirteen decades of gunk.
   “Oh, stunning,” Lex said, gagging as she eased into the space that was normally meant to be occupied by a coffin.
   “Don’t you start up, missy,” Pandora scolded her. “I haven’t driven this jalopy in twenty-some-odd years! It’s bulletproof, you know—keep it only for emergencies, hidden back behind the Crypt—”
   Driggs nudged Lex. “Just be thankful there’s not a body in here.”
   “—and you should count yourselves lucky there’s no body in here! If you want to ride in style, call yourself a limo, because I ain’t—hey! Quit straddling my gearshift!”
   Grotton, gamely continuing his campaign of unhelpfulness, was now settling comfortably in the space between Pandora and Uncle Mort. “I highly recommend you refrain from spitting on me,” he said, giving her a distasteful look. “Hag.”
   “Ooh! Let’s use the secret weapon,” Uncle Mort said, rubbing his hands together, his eyes lit up like those of a child’s on Christmas morning. “Just to scare them.”
   Pandora grinned. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
   Thrusting her hand through the obstacle that was Grotton, she put the car back into gear, executed a perfect three-point turn, and gunned it straight for the crowd of townspeople. Lex watched her push a red button atop the dashboard.
   The field was bathed in light as a great plume of fire shot out of the front of the car. The townspeople scattered.
   “Whoa!” Driggs yelled.
   “What the . . .” Lex trailed off.
   Uncle Mort turned around in his seat and smiled at her. “Told you, kiddo.”
   Lex recalled her first ride into Croak, when she’d gotten her inital glimpse of the village from atop Uncle Mort’s motorcycle. This was back before she’d learned that she was a Grim, one of the few people on earth entrusted with the task of retrieving dead people’s souls and transporting them to the Afterlife. Be­fore she’d delved face-first into the town of Croak and befriended its citizens, then later endangered Croak and majorly pissed off its citizens by being able to Damn people, sending their souls to eternal torment instead of the serene, lovely Afterlife. Before she’d shared this talent with her former friend Zara, who then used it to terrorize the Grimsphere and Damn innocent people.
   Before she’d become the royal screwup she was today.
   And of course, before she’d learned for the first time what a psychopath her uncle was. She smirked back at him. “Ah yes. The flamethrower always shoots forward.”
   “Bingo.” He tapped the red button a couple more times for good measure, creating a path of melted snow for them to drive through. Lex looked out the back window. Unhurt, the townspeople slowly got to their feet, muttering at one another. Some shook their fists at the departing car. Driggs, meanwhile, was still watching the flames with glee, the word “Batmobile” begging to escape from his lips. “Don’t even say it,” Lex warned.
   He gave her a wry look. “Hey. I wasn’t far off.”
   The car rumbled along across the field, bouncing as Dora hit divots and tree roots and probably a whole zoo’s worth of woodland creatures. “So!” she shouted, seemingly in fine spirits. “Let’s catch up! Starting with the invisible boy back there. What in tarnation happened to you, Driggsy?”
   Driggs ran a hand through his cold, wet hair, inadvertently spraying Lex with small droplets. “Well—”
   “Speak up, boy! And make it snappy!”
   “Snappy, okay. Well, Zara kidnapped me and left me on the top of a cliff to die. And then I did die. But not really. Actually—”
   “Oh, criminy,” Dora said, throwing her arms off the wheel for a second, causing everyone to grope for something to hold on to. “Like pulling teeth with this one. Lex, gimme the quick version. How’d you get sprung from the clink?”
   The last thing Lex wanted to do was rehash this, but if she didn’t, Dora would yell even louder, and no one wanted that. “Zara let me out.”
   “Why?”
   “So that she could force me into doing a shift with her. Sofi helped.”
   “That little lying sneak,” Pandora growled. “Never did trust her. Too many hair colors.” She made a loud spitting noise. “So a shift, eh? And the target was—”
   “Driggs.”
   “Why?”
   “So she could threaten to Damn him if I didn’t give her the Wrong Book.”
   “But you didn’t give it to her, judging by the presence of Sir Snottington over here.”
   Grotton bristled, and Lex nodded. “Right.”
   “And instead of Damning Driggs, she ghosted him?”
   “Well, no. Before she could do anything she’d planned, I sort of—”
   “What?”
   “Um, strangled her.”
   Pandora turned around in her seat, making the car swerve sharply to the right. “You what?” she squawked, her voice rising above her passengers’ screeches of panic. “Zara’s dead?”
   Lex’s knuckles were white against the door handle. “Yeah. But she was Culling Driggs’s soul at the time, so—”
   “So he was ghosted?”
   “Half ghosted,” Driggs threw in. “Or something. Grotton said he knows, but—”
   Pandora blew a raspberry. “I doubt Grotton knows his ugly face from a splotch of roadkill.”
   “Wait a sec,” Lex said, raising an eyebrow at the familiar way Pandora spoke about Grotton. “You knew about him too?” When Pandora dropped into an uncharacteristic silence, Lex threw up her arms. “Was I the only one in the dark about the fact that the evilest Grim of all time, thought to be dead for several centuries, was in fact alive and well and having a grand old time stalking me across the country?”
   Uncle Mort turned around in his seat to look at Lex and Driggs. “Dora and I and only a couple other Grims knew about him. He’s . . . part of the plan.”
   “Yeah, about that.” Lex looked warily at Grotton, who was smiling back at her in a devilish manner. “You said the only way to fix things was to destroy the one who started it all in the first place. And that I’m the one who has to dispatch him, for some reason. What is that reason?”
   “Because you’re the only one who can,” Grotton said. “Doesn’t that make you feel special?”
   Lex ignored him. “But that can’t be true,” she said to Uncle Mort. “I tried Damning Zara and it didn’t work. It had zero effect on her. So why would I be able to kill Grotton?”
   “It’s a bit more complicated than killing. Or Damning,” Uncle Mort told her. Then, doing that infuriating thing that he always did so well, he neglected to finish his thought and instead turned back to Dora. “Just pull up in front.”
   Pandora nodded. “Gotcha.”
   Uncle Mort was already unbuckling his seat belt. Lex had assumed that they were headed for the outskirts of town, but she’d gotten so disoriented in the escape that she only just began to realize where Dora was parking.
   “I don’t mean to nitpick,” Lex said, looking at the metallic gadgets sticking out of the windows of a house that would have fit in a lot better on a moon colony than in the heart of the Adirondacks, “but don’t you think that the first place Norwood will look for you might be . . . oh, I don’t know . . . your house?
   “Good point, Lex,” Uncle Mort said with a roll of his eyes as Pandora jolted the Stiff to a stop. “Don’t know where we’d be without that brilliant strategic mind of yours.”
   “I’m just saying. After all that running and escaping and flame-broiling our fellow citizens, we’re going to just hole up in here and wait? I want to smite the bad guys!”
   “Oh, there’ll be smiting, don’t you worry about that. Out of the car.” He picked up the Wrong Book and strolled toward the front door as though he’d simply run out to pick up a carton of eggs, not been dashing about on the lam for several months. “You too, Prince of Darkness,” he called back, waving the Wrong Book.
   Grotton clucked his ephemeral tongue. “So we’ve resorted to childish name-calling. How—”
   “Childish?” Lex deadpanned.
   He gave her a rude look, then reluctantly disappeared through the windshield. What Uncle Mort had said back at the cabin must have been true: Grotton was bound to the Wrong Book and had to go wherever it went.
   Lex looked at Driggs, who shrugged. “Maybe there are some pizzas left in the freezer,” he said.
   Lex, who hadn’t eaten a substantial meal in weeks, clutched her gurgling stomach and scrambled out of the car after him. Pandora turned the car around so that its grill was facing outward, readied her finger over the red button should any townspeople try to overtake the house, and waited with a wily grin on her face.
   “Hurry up, or I won’t hesitate to get my roast on,” she told them. “You know how much I love a good barbecue.”
   They rushed into the house, but Uncle Mort had already disappeared downstairs. Lex scowled. He’d dragged them all the way over here only to make them wait while he ran down to do some work in his top-secret, no-trespassers-allowed basement?
   Maybe they had time to eat after all.
   Driggs’s ravenous teenage-boy brain had already reached this conclusion, and it had even propelled him into solid mode, as he was rummaging around the cabinets and pulling out every item he could get his hands on. He tossed half of the food to Lex, and the other half didn’t make it any farther than his own mouth. Dorito bags exploded into a fine orange mist, cookies were emptied out on the table, and all other food packages were destroyed on impact, their contents immediately consumed in as messily a manner as possible.
   “Animals.” Grotton floated into the doorway from the basement and watched them with disgust. “Swine.”
   “You’re just jealous because you can’t eat,” Lex said around the approximately seventeen cheese balls in her mouth.
   Grotton picked up a cheese ball and threw it at her face.
   That certainly got their attention. They both stared at him open-mouthed, a perfect orange circle now situated on Lex’s cheek.
   Ghosts can’t become solid, Lex thought. Ghosts can’t throw cheese balls!
   And then: That might be the weirdest sentence I’ve ever thought.
   “Oh, I can eat,” Grotton said. “I just choose not to sully my innards with the manufactured slop of this day and age.”
   “Hang on,” said Driggs, holding a glob of peanut butter in his bare hand. “I thought you were a ghost.”
   “Afraid not. I’m a Hybrid, same as you.” His smile widened. “Though I don’t go solid very much anymore. Too risky. But that”—he pointed at Lex’s orange cheek with a snicker—“was worth it.”
   Lex scowled back at him. “Risky?”
   He raised his eyebrows. “Why, someone might try to stab me. Or Damn me. Or strangle me.”
   Lex looked away, disquieted, even though she knew that he was pushing her buttons on purpose.
   Driggs, meanwhile, seemed to have gotten some of that peanut butter stuck in his throat. “So this is it, huh?” he said quietly. “Back and forth between solid and transparent, for the rest of my—” He swallowed. “Forever?”
   Grotton studied him. “If memory serves me, the transitions will be erratic at first; then, after a day or so, you may be able to control them. But before long the solidifications will be fewer and farther between, and then . . .”
   When he trailed off, Driggs nodded curtly. “Mostly ghost. Got it.”
   Lex saw the melancholy passing over his face and reached out to him, but he waved her away, still intent on Grotton. “You said I’m a Damning Effect Reverser, too, whatever that means. And that you know why I can unDamn.”
   “Oh, my boy,” Grotton said with a grin, “you can do so much more than that.” With that, he disappeared into the basement.
   Driggs scoffed. “That was helpful.”
   “Seriously,” said Lex. “The guy’s a first-rate douchecrate.”
   “Agreed. Shall we move on to the fridge?”
   They were well on their way to eating a full spray can of whipped cream between them—one spurt for Lex, two spurts for Driggs, shake well, repeat—when Uncle Mort appeared at the basement doorway and, given the fact that neither of them had ever been allowed to set a single toe on the basement staircase, said the most surprising thing he could have uttered:
   “Downstairs, kids.”
   Out came the whipped cream. In a perfect spit-take, too—through both mouths and all four nostrils.
   Uncle Mort grinned. “If we’re going to smite the bad guys, we’re going to need a few toys first.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Amazing

    As many who know me well enough may realize, the only thing that makes me sadder than when a book series ends is when a book series ends poorly. The last book, Scorch, had me worried. The original book's lightheartedness in its multitude of sarcastic yet not serious remarks in their nature had almost entirely disappeared, and I began to wonder if I may be disappointed by the finale, especially when I had found myself so saddened by the ending of Scorch. This book, much to my delight, did not disappoint me, and left me mourning only the fact that the trilogy had come to a close.
    The beginning was almost uncharacteristically trying to be funny, especially considering the events that had just taken place, but the humor does become more natural as the story goes on, and there is no lack of wit to be found in the storytelling or dialogue.
    The romance between Driggs and Lex has multiple spotlight moments in the story, most of which are stopped as soon as they start, so those who come to these novels less for the romantic aspects shouldn't be entirely put off of Rogue because of those moments.
    As for plot twists, well, Ms. Damico was not lying when she said she loaded each page with blowdarts. Many different aspects of the Grimsphere are speculated upon and explained (including the explanation of who the Last is) and many characters unload secrets in just about every chapter. Be sure not to read this book in a place with other people in it if you're as emotive as I am or as keen on talking to yourself and the book or characters (and I'd definitely advise against it if you're either of the above and have as colorful a choice of words as Lex does).
    All in all, this book is all I could ask for as far as a conclusion to Damico's excellent series about a sarcastic, emotional, and undoubtedly courageous teen Reaper. Well written, Ms. Damico. This will most definitely be a series I will return to time and time again to analyze or for entertainment's sake.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Plot spoilers

    As usual plot spoilers ruin the book with their overly verbose retelling of the plot line. A hint plot spoilers...a few lines is all that is needed to tell if you liked it or not. You do not have to regurgitate every line.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    horrible ending

    While I appreciated the first book I feel that the second and third books were a let down. The second book was spent throwing problems at the characters to the point where it became depressing. I figured that everything would be resolved, and as for the characters that were killed, at least they had the afterlife. However, Ms. Damico ended the series by giving characters random superpowers, (I mean in addition to the already established abilities from book one) and leaving the existence of several characters in doubt.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014

    As a conclusion to a series, it was horrible. She leaves the fat

    As a conclusion to a series, it was horrible. She leaves the fate of several characters in doubt, several questions unanswered and 
    solves all potential problems by giving a random character superpowers in the second to last chapter of the book. Besides these, the 
    ending itself was unsatisfactory. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    Hey im kate

    Anyone wanna chat tell me your name and age im kate

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Excellent publisher reviews

    A five , revealed a mish mash mess which was able to avoid and the author in future books.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Rogue by Gina Damico was an action packed finale to this amazing

    Rogue by Gina Damico was an action packed finale to this amazing series.  Lots of edge of your seat action that was impossible to tear my eyes away from.

    Book three in the Croak series picks up pretty much where book two left off.  Lex and the gang are fighting for their lives.  With Driggs as a ghost, and those that they thought were allies now turned enemies, Lex, Uncle Mort, and the rest of the crew now have a mission that seems impossible.

    They must not travel to Necropolis and seal off the portal to the Afterlife.  But getting there is half the battle.  With Norwood and his henchmen only mere steps behind them, these rogue grims must make their way to the Grim capital, undetected if possible, and carry out their mission.

    With help from those that many least expected, the twists and turns come full force and an ending that is both emotional and unbelievable, Rogue by Gina Damico is a series finale that will have readers wishing that the ride wasn’t over all too soon.

    I found Rogue by Gina Damico chalk full of laugh out loud moments.  It was, by far, the most entertaining book of this series, and author, Gina Damico, held no stops when it came to the hilarity.  I feel like I was laughing/giggling throughout the entire read.

    But the humor isn’t the only thing that had me loving this book.  The twists that are thrown at you were ones that left my mouth open, and my eyes watery.  I was shaking my head willing for this awful outcome to not come true.  I literally had to put the book down and take a breather and collect my thoughts.  WHY GINA DAMICO!  WHYYYY!!! (You evil genius, you…)

    The characters are the ones that we have all grown to love while reading the first two books, and in this installment, we witness their selfless sacrifices time and time again.  I just don’t know how much more feels my heart could take!  It was one after another after another.  STOP! (No, keep going…it was awesome!)

    My love for dear Uncle Mort totally intensified 1000 fold in this book.  You’ll have to read the book to find out why, but when you get to that point, you too will feel the overwhelming love for this rebel without a cause.

    I found Lex to be more of a smartass in Rogue, than in the other books, and I loved it.  I’ve always enjoyed this character and her verbal diarrhea.  And the various scenes and conversations in the book played out so easily in my mind like a movie.  Everything flowed perfectly, and the “one ups” and “jabs” were perfectly timed.

    The ending ending was a little disappointing for me, simply because it didn’t turn out how I hoped it would.  It was still great, but did leave a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

    All in all, a fantabulous read and a series that will be among my top favs.  I would recommend this book and series to fans of grim reaper stories, those looking for an action packed read, and for anyone who is up for meeting some truly unforgettable characters that will remain in your heart and solidify your love of reading.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2015

    .

    .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    Is...

    Is this a "girls" book?

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Wow!

    This book is better than the first two. Action, drama, ect.
    The ending was sad though. :(

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    I want more!

    What more can I say? I enjoyed the trilogy...but therein lies my problem...I W-A-N-T M-O-R-E!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2014

    Good teen read

    Though not a teenager, I enjoyed the story. Written in an easy to read style. Portraying a new approach to death and where and how we get to heaven. Would recommend for teen to adult fantasy readers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    V # L

    Mdjx

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Come join are club

    Come join are club at gossamer it has a train as the cover. This club is good because you can chat with friends and get answers to your questions. Also we will give you book updates if you join. Make sure you have a screen name so we knows who it is. Also add your favorite book if yu join so we can do some researchm see you their

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    So excited

    I havent read this book yet but i have read the rest of the series. I found all of them amazing! I would highly recomend the seres to anyone and everyone who is looking for an opertunity to laugh, cry and die with these astonishin charictors. Lex is witty and driggs is loud and obnoxious but together they are thr ultamante powerhouse team. And tje restvof the juniors and Uncle Mort provide the same punch

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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