Maggie Quinn, Girl reporter. Honors student, newspaper staffer, yearbook photographer. Six weeks from graduation and all she wants to do is get out of Avalon High in one piece. Fate seems to have different plans for her.
High school may be a natural breeding ground for evil, but the scent of fire and brimstone is still a little out of the ordinary. It's the distinct smell of sulfur that makes Maggie suspect that something's a bit off. And when realTwilight Zone stuff starts happening to the school's ruling clique--the athletic elite and the head cheerleader and her minions, all of whom happen to be named Jessica--Maggie realizes it's up to her to get in touch with her inner Nancy Drew and ferret out who unleashed the ancient evil before all hell breaks loose.
Maggie has always suspected that prom is the work of the devil, but it looks like her attendance will be mandatory. Sometimes a girl's got to do some pretty undesirable things if she wants to save her town from soul-crushing demons from hell and the cheerleading squad.
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Delacorte Books for Young Readers
April 21, 2008
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Excerpt from Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
As an interactive horror experience, with beasts from Hell, mayhem, gore, and dismemberment, it was an impressive event. As a high school prom, however, the evening was marginally less successful.
I should start at the beginning, but I'm not entirely certain when that is, so I'll start with the day I realized that despite my most determined efforts, I was not going to be able to ignore the prom entirely.
The end of April, and a rabid satin and tulle frenzy had attached to every double X chromosome in the senior class. All available wall space-hallway, cafeteria, even the bathrooms-sprouted signage in the most obnoxious colors possible. I was assaulted by flyers in the courtyard, and harassed by thrice-daily announcements. Had I gotten my tickets yet? Had I voted for the class song? Had I voted for the King and Queen? No, no, and Hell no, because voting for royalty was not just moronic, it was oxymoronic.
No one was safe from the Prom Plague. When dog-eared copies of Seventeen magazine started circulating through AP English, I knew I'd soon have to fall back to the band hall and call the CDC from there.
Then one day my neutrality was over. My indifference punctured. Stanley Dozer asked me to be his date.
Stanley Dozer was even lower on the high school food chain than I was, and I was in the journalism club. Sometimes I think God must have a kind of divine craps table; every once in a while He shoots snake eyes and the next baby born is screwed from the jump. I mean, "Stanley Dozer," for starters. Maybe he could have aesthetically overcome this name, but the guy was about six foot five, pale and bony as a corpse, with hair the color of spider webs. His ankles and wrists shot out of his too short jeans and the sleeves of his plaid button-down shirt. I sympathized with the sizing problems, but I had to wonder at the complete inattention to fashion. And by fashion I mean "camouflage."
Back on the middle school Serengeti I learned that, lacking a certain killer instinct, my best bet was to avoid standing out from the herd and making myself a target for the apex social predators, at least until I'd built up a tough skin. Now I'm sort of like the spiny anteater. Small and prickly, trundling along, a threat to no one. Except ants, I guess, which is where the metaphor runs out.
Back to Stanley's ambush. On the second-story breezeway that overlooked the courtyard below, the Spanish Club was selling candy to raise money for their Guatemalan sponsor child and I was taking their picture. Privately I thought little Juanita would benefit a lot faster if they sold tequila shots instead. Not that I advocate underage alcohol, but I bet there were a few teachers who could use a drink this time of year.
"Hi, Maggie!" Stanley's voice startled me.
I spun around, narrowly missing hitting him in his bony chest with my camera. I'm used to looking up, but with Stanley I had to crane my neck and squint. "Oh. Hi, Stanley."
Behind me, the Spanish Club giggled. What was Espa-ol for "Bite me"?
"How are you?" he asked, hefting his book bag onto his shoulder. The canvas bag bore the logo of the natural history museum. High on the geek quotient, but worlds better than the briefcase he'd carried freshman year.
"I'm taking some pictures for the yearbook." I hinted broadly that I was busy. After all, the next box of Chiclets might be the one that sent little Juanita to college.
"I saw you up here, and I thought . . . Well, you know how the prom is coming up?"
"Is it really?" I mumbled, messing with the settings on my camera. "I had no idea."
Sarcasm sailed over his head, which was a trick considering his height. He shuffled from foot to foot, giving the unfortunate appearance of a dancing skeleton. "Well, I was thinking you could go with me. We could, you know, go together."
The words entered my ears, but my brain rejected them. Stanley Dozer was not asking me to the prom. Words failed me, and that's just not something that happens. Ever. I'd known Stanley since his paste-eating days, and had always tried to be nice to him. I was the spoilsport who pulled the kick me sign off his back, or helped him pick up his books after he'd been tripped-either by his own overlong legs or someone else's. I guess if I were a better person I'd have befriended him more thoroughly. I felt bad about that, but not that bad.
"Wow. The prom." I stalled as the rest of the school continued normal operations, electric bells calling students to class, kids buffeting us as they passed on the breezeway, calling to the people below. "I really wasn't planning to go," I said honestly. "I might have to take pictures, but I'd kind of be working."