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  • Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375840784
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  • Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
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  • Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375853876
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Written by Dale E. BasyeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Dale E. Basye
Illustrated by Bob DobAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Bob Dob

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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: July 28, 2009
Pages: 384 | ISBN: 978-0-375-85387-6
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck Cover

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In the second installment of the popular series, Heck, Dale E. Basye takes Milton and Marlo Fauster on a journey that is as clever, as laugh-out-loud funny, and as satisfying as the first.

Welcome to Rapacia, where the greedy kids go . . .

When Milton escapes from Heck in a soul balloon made of old clothes, Marlo is the only Fauster child left to take the blame. Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the Principal of Darkness, sends her straight to Rapacia, the circle where greedy kids are tormented by glimpses of a just-out-of-reach, glittering shopper’s paradise called Mallvana. Marlo soon falls under the sway of Rapacia’s assistant principal, a grinning metal rabbit known as the Grabbit that seems to have plans of its own.

Meanwhile, back on the Surface, Milton has his own problems. He is determined to get in touch with Marlo and help her find a way out of Heck. But it’s hard to concentrate when his body and soul don’t seem to hold together the way they used to. Will Milton ever reach Marlo? And if he does, will they both end up as pawns in the Grabbit’s mysterious game?

Excerpt

“Oww . . . you flippin’ maniac!” Marlo Fauster shrieked. The demon driver, after untying Marlo’s hands, had jabbed his pitchspork in a place just south of cordial. Marlo fell to her knees outside the stagecoach and fumbled to remove her blindfold.

The driver, his shape smudged and cloaked in the murky darkness, stood atop the stagecoach and struck a match across his fangs. The bright flare of light felt like an explosion in Marlo’s eye sockets.

The driver’s nightmarish features burned themselves into the back of Marlo’s retinas. Like most of the demons she had met in Heck, he was a creature turned inside out. But this one was even more inside out somehow: a lanky, walking pizza with everything on it held together by a network of pulsating veins and arteries.

“On second thought”—Marlo gulped—“maybe the blindfold wasn’t so bad.”

A pale horse with shiny pink eyes clomped nervously in place in front of the stagecoach. The demon driver pompously puffed out his disgusting chest.

“Snatched away in beauty’s bloom, on thee shall press no ponderous tomb,” he recited in a wet, snooty tone, like a butler with a bronchial infection.

As if things weren’t bad enough, Marlo reflected, now I have to hear his poetry.

Her eyes adjusted to the light, and she saw she was in some kind of subterranean tunnel. She stood up, brushing gravel off her baggy, sequined #1 grandma sweatshirt and sagging turquoise stirrup pants.

After her brother Milton’s unprecedented escape at the Gates of Heck, Marlo had been forced at spork-point into this ugly Rapacia uniform, blindfolded, and shoved into the stagecoach of some poetic cadaver.

The next thing Marlo knew, she was here—wherever “here” was. “You are so not getting a tip,” she said.

The demon folded his arms together smugly. The mesh of winding red and blue capillaries made him appear as if he were a living, throbbing road map. Watching the creature’s pulse made Marlo’s own pulse quicken.

“My, aren’t we a brave little girl?” the demon mocked before suddenly leaping to the ground.

Startled, Marlo jumped back, hitting something with a clang. “Dang!” she cursed, rubbing the back of her skull. The demon laughed.

She turned to glare at what had connected with her head so painfully.

unwelcome to rapacia, read a sign atop an ornate metal gate. Twin wrought-iron fleurs-de-lis were welded against a gleaming brass serpent, double curved into a shiny letter “s.” At the side of the gate, attached to a crisscross of iron bars, was a large metal box, with a message etched across it: please leave all valuables and expensive personal effects here so that they can be, um, stored and given back to you at the end of eternity.

Marlo peered down the tunnel past the open gate. The passage grew darker in progressively blacker rings that formed a big, black, fathomless eye. She shivered.

“You’d better pick up the pace,” the demon jeered. “The Grabbit doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

Marlo turned back toward the exploded, over-microwaved Hot-Pocket-of-a-man.

“The Grabbit?” she asked. “What’s a Grabbit?”

The demon laughed. “The Grabbit is your new vice principal. It’s what makes Rapacia such an . . . interesting place of torment for greedy, grasping little moppets such as yourself.”

The demon turned toward his stagecoach. The creepy white horse “nayed” with a deranged titter.

A wave of panic washed over Marlo.

“What am I supposed to do, you . . . you . . . freaky carcass thing?” Marlo shouted into the dark, her chest tight with fear.

The demon sneered over his sinewy shoulder.

“The name is Byron . . . Lord Byron,” he replied haughtily, his inside-outside body flushed with indignation. “I once wore my heart on my sleeve and now must wear it draped outside my chest, a palpitating medallion for all to see.”

The demon chuckled.

“But at least I’m not a naughty little girl—alone—in the dark.”

Marlo could practically hear Lord Byron’s uncaring shrug as the demon stalked back to the stagecoach, muttering another depressing poem.

After a few long seconds of complete silence, Marlo’s ears were suddenly assaulted with the sounds of hooves clacking, wheels squeaking, and monstrous snorts. Slowly, the noises flattened into fading echoes, leaving behind nothing but Marlo’s frantic panting. The darkness and silence seemed to grip her around the midsection, squeezing out every ounce of her usual bravado.

“This sucks!” Marlo shouted to herself, kicking the wall.

“This sucks!” Her words echoed back at her, whiny and afraid. Marlo tried in vain to hold back the twin gushes of hot, salty tears streaking down her cheeks.

At least there was no one around to see what a total chicken nugget she was, Marlo thought—down here, submerged in darkness, alone, en route from one terrible place to another.

She sighed and tugged straight her sweatshirt—an acrylic travesty the color of old dentures—and hiked up her stirrup pants.

Might as well get this over with, Marlo reasoned as she felt along the tunnel with her hands, reading the walls like braille.

After Marlo’s brother, Milton, had escaped from Limbo—using the buoyant power of freed souls to lift him up, up, and away back to the Surface, the Stage, the land of the living, whatever you wanted to call it—things had gotten a little tense down in the Netherworld.

Bea “Elsa” Bubb, Heck’s hideous Principal of Darkness, had gone ballistic. She had been so angry that she couldn’t so much as look at Marlo due to her sheer Fausterness—those hereditary bits of Milton the principal saw mocking her in Marlo’s face.

Now, here she was, told to scurry in the darkness to meet her new vice principal.

After groping her way along for several minutes, Marlo felt a prickly wave of electricity creep under her skin. She stopped. There was a shimmer of . . . something . . . in the distance. A glint of garish green. A flash of cruel metal. A beguiling glimmer that drew Marlo closer like a moth to a lightbulb. She drifted toward the beckoning twinkle.

Marlo moved forward, the burrow narrowing steadily until, after a few hundred yards, it constricted into a dark, open portal. She sniffed the air. It smelled like ozone, like dust and electricity, like the smell just before lightning strikes.

Closing her eyes, Marlo breathed deeply to calm her frazzled nerves and then crossed the threshold into a humming chamber. Deep rumbling waves rattled her bones. Although she still couldn’t see, Marlo sensed the presence of something even darker than the darkness, a shadow in a nest of shadows waiting patiently for her to come one fatal step too close. Her heart galloped like a rabid, three-legged racehorse.

Dim neon bathed a shape that towered before her at the core of the chamber. A gorgeous spectrum of faraway light leaked faintly from a grate in the ceiling beyond the shadow, daring Marlo to come closer. Its color danced along the edges of the dark shape, making the shadow seem even more sinister in contrast.

“What the bloody heck is this place?” a voice boomed in the blackness.


From the Hardcover edition.
Dale E. Basye

About Dale E. Basye

Dale E. Basye - Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck
The idea for Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go came to me where most of my ideas come from: that area just behind the eyes and somewhere, approximately, between the ears. A friend of mine, whom I’ll refer to as “Paul Harrod,” wanted to make a short “mockumentary” film on the devil, sort of a VH1 “Behind the Brimstone”-type of thing (sorry for all the quotes and the parenthetical asides). While helping him to mine the topic for potential nuggets of humor, I unearthed the idea of an H-E-double-hockey-sticks Lite, just for children, which–of course–simply had to be called Heck. I researched such classic works as Dante’s Inferno and the phonebook (I wanted a pizza) and came up with a kid-ified underworld specifically designed to ignore the needs and enflame the misery of once-living children everywhere–in particular, the bad ones.

Of course, every story needs what is commonly referred to as a protagonist. That is, a hero, or–at the very least–someone whom the reader can relate to in some way while serving as a guide through a host of unpleasant, fantastical circumstances. Often, the protagonist mirrors the author, not for any significant reason other than it’s much easier for the author (fewer things to make up) while giving him/her the perfect excuse to write about himself/herself. Ever the overachiever, I decided to have two protagonists–hardly a “novel” idea–but it allowed me to write through my dual selves–the ever cautious, perpetually in-his-head Milton, and the tart, impulse-control-challenged Marlo.

Now it was just a matter of writing it all down. Oh, yes…writing

Writing is really, really, really hard. It’s easier if you have fingers and not, say, great unwieldy crab claws, but still. There are only two enjoyable aspects of the writing experience, as I see it. The first is when you are on the bus, clipping your toenails, or grooming the pet monkey you “found” at the circus: those little in-between moments where inspiration often bubbles to the top of your consciousness like a cork bobbing up to the surface of the sea. It’s when you come up with that big idea…the one that seems so inevitable, as if it had always been there, only you were the one to stumble on to it. You’re elated. You’re filled with excitement. You miss your stop, cut your pinky toenail too deep, or accidentally tug too hard on your monkey’s fur with its brush (which Dr. Zaius hates…I have the bite marks to prove it). It’s a great moment (not the monkey bites, but the “zapped with creative fire” part). Unfortunately, when a writer is blessed with a good idea, he/she is then immediately cursed with having to actually do something about it. This is called work. Some writers also consider this play, but–to the best of my knowledge–Roget’s Thesaurus doesn’t happen to include “play” as a synonym for “work.”

The second great part of writing is right after you are through and are fairly convinced that what you wrote isn't completely awful. Not that you ever really think that (or that you are ever really “through”) but there’s a point where most of the heavy lifting is done and the voices in your head at least dull to a manageable murmur. This is also the point where it is safe for your family to come out from underneath the kitchen table, bearing soap, a towel, and a change of clothes.

So why write? There are some who write solely to pay the utility bill, to which I say: good luck. Then, there are others, who simply have to write. This is the column I find myself squarely in. I’ve tried to express myself eloquently with guitar solos, touchdowns, and even ballroom dancing once, and the only thing I managed to achieve was a state of humiliation (and occasionally sore feet). Writing is the closest I’ve come to putting something out in the world that bears a faint resemblance to the notion that was originally in my head (this essay notwithstanding).

And, somehow, it’s all worth it. The staring at the screen until it stares back. The slow dwindling of friends, hairs, and social niceties. The less-than-healthful food choices. The getting up in the middle of the night and splashing in your neighbor's koi pond (this may not have anything to do with writing but may instead be a symptom of a deeper problem). But when you go to a bookstore and see your book, or even simply the space where your book will soon be, you feel as if you have joined an illustrious fraternity of literature, a centuries-old club boasting everyone from Aesop to Zola (a French writer whom one should only read if one finds oneself unbearably happy and wishes to remedy this condition immediately).

Speaking of tedium, I couldn’t stand school. And the feeling was mutual.

But, thanks to some phenomenal teachers, I realized the freeing power of the imagination. It was as if every story I wrote or doodle I scrawled was a spadeful of dirt, unearthing a secret tunnel, getting me closer and closer to escape. Laughter was also a lifesaver for me, often literally. Not only is it rightfully considered the best medicine (if used liberally, only as directed), it can also save you from getting your butt kicked in PE.

The point is (yes, there's a point here somewhere), that preadolescence can feel like an eternity when you’re in it, but you actually get through it fairly unscathed, though your body and voice may soon be rendered unrecognizable. This complete freakishness is normal. So let laughter and perseverance be your best and most trusted bodyguards, providing loyal service without even demanding your lunch money in return.

I hope that you enjoy, appreciate, and–above all–buy my book Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go–at least three copies (one for locking away in your safe for future generations, one for reading, and one for travel). I think you’ll find that it’s a story full of laughter and hope (OK, and a fair amount of demons, poop, and dead historical figures). And if you don’t buy it for the story, then buy it for the amazing illustrations by Bob Dob. So, thank you for reading this long-winded essay (assuming you still are) and I caution you to be wary of words such as flummox, maelstrom, and irony. If you find yourself using them, you may already be a–egads–writer.

Cordially,
Dale E. Basye

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