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Authors: Christopher Lincoln

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The Road to Nevermore

BOOK: The Road to Nevermore
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Copyright

Copyright © 2009 by Christopher Lincoln

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written
permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com
.

www.twitter.com/littlebrown

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: August 2009

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental
and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-05248-1

Contents

Copyright

Prologue

Part 1: Gloom Gathers

Chapter 1: The Royal Dockyards at Barmouth

Chapter 2: Sleep’s Shadows

Chapter 3: Temporary Commissioner Chippendale

Chapter 4: Uncle Mordecai

Chapter 5: Shadewick Gloom

Chapter 6: A Departing Soul

Chapter 7: The Boneyard

Chapter 8: When Time Stands Still

Chapter 9: Timelessness Marches On

Chapter 10: Billy’s New Bones

Chapter 11: By the Grace of Minnie’s Knuckles

Chapter 12: Oversecretary Underhill

Part 2: In the Shadow of Gloom

Chapter 13: Nevermore

Chapter 14: At Edgeton’s Edge

Chapter 15: Dreads

Chapter 16: By the Bell of St. Dunstable

Chapter 17: Gateway to Darkness

Chapter 18: The High Council

Chapter 19: Millicent’s Crypt

Chapter 20: Diabolis

Chapter 21: At Gloom’s Door

Chapter 22: The Skeleton Siege

Chapter 23: Gloom and Doom

Chapter 24: Nevermore No More

Chapter 25: The Boneyard Ablaze

For Mary

Prologue

Celesdon Awaits You

By Gauzly Shimmer

The author’s recent works include: WHEN TO BOW,
WHEN TO BOO,
A Guide to Ghostly Manners
, and
HIGH SOCIETY ON HIGH

If you can manage it, the best time to arrive in the Afterlife is late fall. That’s when the city of Celesdon is most magnificent.
The sun’s low angle, sparkling through the jeweled domes and the water-rises of our capital city, is especially uplifting
because, here in the next world, water flows up rather than falling down. It’s a sight that can take your breath away, even
if you have no breath in you.

As you disembark at the Hall of Reception, you will be granted a supply of golden wishes, the currency of the Afterlife. (If
you’re a skeleton, then unlucky you. Golden wishes are provided only to ghosts.)

You get only one “first time” in Celesdon, so make the most of it. My absolute favorite resting place is the Sapphire Plaza
Hotel, located in the city’s central ring. Service is heavenly.

Before checking in, I recommend shopping in the Glamoursmith district. That’s where celebrated designers will fit you with
shimmery fashions sure to suit the palest complexion. But be careful not to spend
too
many wishes. I speak from experience. I went through my allotment like a tyke in a toy shop! So take care, unless you want
to spend an eternity earning a living by writing travelogues.

After you’re properly outfitted, nothing is more memorable than flying up to the Sapphire in a royal carriage pulled by wind
stallions.

As you alight, note the deep blue curved staircase—the one that seems to go on forever. You’ll find golden wishes valuable
here, too, because you can simply wish your way to the top. They’re quite useful for getting around in general because the
Afterlife is so impossibly big.

Once you’re settled in, it’s time to explore. I recommend the museums and even a visit to Government Hall. You need only crane
your neck skyward to see this long structure. It spans the entire length of the Afterlife. One end houses Light Side officials,
and the other end, the Dark. With that much building you might expect loads of government, and you wouldn’t be wrong!

A word to the wise: all that governing produces a sea of regulation. And those who run afoul of the law are sent to a place
much worse than the Dark Side.

Typically we only whisper its name (
it’s called Nevermore
), and its location is shrouded in mystery. But no matter how murky the address, let me be clear: avoid it at all cost!

I won’t gas on about
that
ghastly place, not with Light Side splendors to think of, like our floating boulevards, crystal courtyards, and cloud-packed
parks. And I really shouldn’t go on about those either, because they’re for your later enjoyment. Much later.

So I shall leave you here with my greatest wish: Savor each day of a long, full life before you even think of a visit. These
wonders will still be here long after you’ve done everything there is to do on Earth.

Part 1

Gloom Gathers

Upon a path, both straight and true

A bright heart, he has kept

It seems no matter where he treads

Gloom’s shadow marks his step

Chapter 1
The Royal Dockyards at Barmouth

The ship creaked softly in a berth at Barmouth Harbor. Its bowsprit pointed out to sea like a finger, gauging wind and possibilities.
Save for the shipwrights, the town was quiet. The proprietor of the cheese shop wiped his hands on his apron as he stood next
to the fishmonger. For months they’d watched the birth of the ship. In two weeks, she would be fitted with canvas and brass.
The shop owners smiled, proud that ship-making skills hadn’t died in these parts. Steel and steam ruled shipyards now, but
nothing pleased the eye like a wind-powered vessel.

A chunky ten-year-old clomped up the gangway. The sound of his boots blended with the snarl of saw blades and the cluck of
mallets. A girl skipped behind him, shouting something lost to the wind.

Perhaps the shop owners would have looked less at the ship and more at the boy if they’d known of his other worldly past.

Billy leaned against the ship’s bulwarks with a
thump.
“What’s the use, Millicent? Everything a pirate could want is right here, but we’re going to miss out.”

Billy Bones Biglum and Millicent Hues were resting on the railings of the
Spurious II
. Billy’s mother, Dame Biglum, was having it built to help promote her famous chocolates. The ship was soon heading out on
a worldwide tour, and Dame Biglum had already engaged a real-life crew.

The children had begged to go along. They dearly wanted to see the world—every port, pack mule, and pyramid. But the old woman
was adamant. “Lessons come first,” she’d said. “Your education has been neglected far too long.”

BOOK: The Road to Nevermore
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