Creepy. Grudge Girl. Bigfoot. Also known as Ivy-Jean, a tall, gloomy teenager whose only friends are wild spiders. One day she commits a federal crime by opening her neighbor’s mail and summons War, one of the Four Horsepeople. Suddenly it’s her job to bring about the apocalypse.
In fact, she has no choice. End humanity, or the one person who cares about her will be sent to hell. To protect her mother, Ivy-Jean agrees to give the apocalypse her best shot. But plans unravel at horrifying speed when Pestilence usurps the high school debate team, War infiltrates the D&D club, Famine aspires to become a world-famous chef, and Death finds love for life in an unlikely place. If Ivy-Jean doesn’t correct their course, she’ll lose the horsepeople to the forces of good forever.
14+ due to adult situations
Ivy-Jean looked up and found the tip of the sword at her nose.
“Stop dawdling. Call the others.” War spoke calmly and plainly, though his expression warned it would be unwise to argue.
“Now.” Amber eyes flashed. The air crackled like the sky before lightning struck. “Before I poke a hole in your gloomy face.”
Accurate, she thought with little emotion. “Go ahead.”
Ivy-Jean’s voice flattened. “If I’m dead then I won’t have to go back to school tomorrow. Or worry about homework. Or how Mom’s going to kill me when she sees that door.”
He didn’t look the least bit sorry.
“Thanks for the hole in the floor. She’s going to string me up by my toes for that, too,” she said.
Intrigue lit his gaze. “Is that still an acceptable torture method?”
Quashing the strange stirring his fascination with such a morbid image evoked, Ivy-Jean said, “You want to kill me? Fine. High school’s already the most effective torture known to man, and everyone’s a bully. Even I’m susceptible to internalized misogyny, so we’re just doomed to hell.”
“Now you’re speaking my language.”
“The misogyny or the doom?”
He rapped the sword against the tiles, spiderwebbing more cracks. “Do I look like a woman-hater to you?”
“Either way, I won’t do it.”
The sword lowered. Then, with a splitting boom, War stabbed another hole into the floor.
Ivy-Jean groaned. “Please, just kill me.”
“Listen, Gabriel.” An odd smile played on his lips. “I think we’ve had a bit of a misunderstanding.”
His misunderstanding was getting old. “I’m not Gabriel.”
“Sorry. Gabrielle. You’re clearly presenting as a woman this time around.”
“I don’t judge. Since when did you care so much about gender or what’s between your legs?”
“I’m not the one worried about it!”
He acted like she hadn’t spoken. “Look, the world sucks, right?”
An odd yet true observation. Ivy-Jean nodded.
“People are the worst.” His voice sweetened, cajoling the bumblebees of her soul with words of nectar. “Everything’s gone to hell. Politics, murder, suicides, bullies, homework, zoos, plastic bottles”—he gestured grandly with each point—“it’s all cruel and senseless. And nobody wants to fix anything. It’s the same mistakes over and over again.”
This was also true.
“So, wouldn’t you agree the only way to make the world right is to blow it up and start over from scratch?”
Ivy-Jean hesitated. It sounded good in theory, but there were a few obvious issues with that. “Mom doesn’t suck.”
“And that’s the beauty of the apocalypse,” he said. “The good are saved and the rest are obliterated.”
Apocalypse … he had said something about the four horsemen, hadn’t he? It sounded like a subject she’d fallen down the rabbit hole in the internet before. Something about four violent cismen—because of course they were—riding horses and bringing about the end of the world. War, Death, Famine, and one other whose name didn’t quite jive with the rest.
Either way, it was difficult to keep doubting the ethereal nature of his existence every time she looked at the door half-buried into the wall.
“Only the evil will suffer.” War’s amber eyes took on a solemn quality that juxtaposed his arrogant flamboyance. “And as you’re the angel who summoned us—or will be, once the rest are here…” He trailed off, eyeing her meaningfully.
Ivy-Jean didn’t quite get it. “Angel?”
“Those are the rules. ‘Ye, for the watchful angel shall pass judgment upon those it has lived amongst.’”
“Don’t you mean yea?”
War scowled. “No.”
She considered his words for a moment. “Sounds like a load of crap.”
“You will be a literal load of crap if you don’t summon the others. Pistachios?”
“Do you mean capiche?”
War slammed the sword into the floor a third time, startling her and poor Spinderella. “Just summon the others already!”
Okay, he wasn’t the most convincing entity, but his weapon sure was.