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For Kelly Link, sinnamon roll and

definite forbidden word, who always knows


how to find strange beauty. Hail Satan.

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property.
It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor
the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

© 2019 Archie Comic Publications, Inc.

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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product
of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

ISBN 978-1-338-32604-8

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 19 20 21 22 23

Printed in the U.S.A. 23

First printing 2019

Book design by Katie Fitch


N E L Y
THE LOPLACE

I
love going to school. It’s not that I love Baxter High, the red­
brick prison where our football team and their cheerleaders,
the Baxter High Ravens, maintain the established pecking
order (raven pun intended). It’s that I love my friends, and I
always have fun with them.
Well, usually.
We have a special table in the cafeteria. The first one of
us in the cafeteria always snags it, and people expect to find
us there, the inseparable quartet: Susie in her shapeless
hoodies, either avoiding the eyes of the football jerks who
hassle her or glaring defiance at them. Roz, with her vague
stare and strong opinions. And me and Harvey, who always
sit beside each other. Normally the four of us chat all the
way through lunch.

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None of us talk about our families that much. I think Susie’s
uncle might have problems. Harvey’s dad is a problem. And
Roz’s dad is Reverend Walker. It’s tricky, having a best friend
whose dad is a minister when you have two aunts who might
drop a casual “Hail Satan” at any moment.
Usually we talk about books and movies, TV shows and
art. Harvey has as many opinions about golden age super­
heroes as I do about classic horror.
Today, Harvey ate nothing and said less.
“What’s with him?” hissed Susie as Harvey carried back his
untouched tray. “He doesn’t seem interested in anything. Not
even Sabrina!”
I tried to smile, and failed. Roz elbowed Susie viciously in
the side.
“It’s nothing,” I said. “We all have off days. I’m sure he’ll be
a changed man tomorrow.”
When Harvey came glumly back to the table, I put an arm
around his neck and gave his hair a fond tug.
“Ow!” Harvey exclaimed. “Sabrina, you pulled some of my
hair out!”
“Wow,” I said. “I did not. I was just playing with your hair,
in an affectionate and normal manner.”
“Sabrina, do you have some of his hair in your hand?” Roz
demanded.
I hid the hair. “Sometimes my affections are too strong.”

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Harvey, Roz, and Susie were all staring at me now.
Sometimes I wonder how they would look at me, how strange
they would find me, if they knew the truth.
***
No matter what was going on with him, Harvey walked me
home as usual. Unfortunately, that meant his eye was caught
by the sight of girls in the woods. Again.
“Hey, ’Brina,” said Harvey, nodding to the group beyond
the trees. “Do you know them?”
There were three girls today. They all wore dresses
with lace­frilled collars and cuffs and in dark materials, but
with short skirts, like sexy Quakers. There was a boy with
them, in dark clothes with dark hair, but I couldn’t see his
face.
“I don’t think so,” I said, but I was lying. I recognized the
girls, even from a distance. They were a group of three witches
who already attended the Academy of Unseen Arts. We’ve had
a few run­ins. Prudence, Dorcas, and Agatha are beautiful,
power ful, and not very impressed with the idea of a half
mortal attending their precious school. They take every
opportunity to make clear that I’m inferior.
Now they were making me feel inferior without even see­
ing me. Without even trying.
I didn’t think I knew the boy. He was probably a mortal
they were messing with. Prudence, Dorcas, and Agatha’s

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business was loyally serving Father Blackwood and Satan, and
their pleasure was tormenting mortal men.
“Yeah,” said Harvey. “I haven’t seen them around either.
They must be from out of town.”
“Are you going to be checking out other girls every day
now?” I teased. “Couldn’t you have picked a more attractive
hobby, like chess or collecting moths? I think collecting moths
is very sexy.”
“I wasn’t checking them out,” Harvey claimed. “I’d never
do that. It’s just that sometimes I do look at people from out of
town, and I wonder what their lives are like. I think about how
it would be, to leave Greendale myself, and have a totally dif­
ferent life. Do you ever think about that, Sabrina? Having
your life utterly transformed?”
“Maybe sometimes,” I said softly.
Harvey’s gaze was fixed on a far­off vista that nobody but
he could see. In some ways, he was a magic maker as much as
I was. My artist, my seer of visions who wants to commit his
dreams to paper and show the world. He wasn’t looking at the
witches in the woods, and he wasn’t looking at me.
When Harvey dreamed of far­off places, I wondered if he
thought of me. Was I in his rearview mirror as he made his grand
escape, part of the town and the life he was leaving behind?
As I watched the witches in the woods, the dark­haired boy
turned, and a green leaf beside his head caught fire under his

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gaze. The leaf became a glowing ember and then curled up
into darkness. The ash drifted away on the breeze.
Well, well, well. Maybe the boy wasn’t a mortal they were
messing with, after all. Warlocks were rarer than witches, but
there was Ambrose and Father Blackwood and my father, of
course. Now I’d seen a fourth. No doubt I’d meet plenty of
them when I began attending the Academy of Unseen Arts.
I couldn’t let Harvey see witches doing magic in the woods.
I caught hold of his hand and pulled him along.
“Come on,” I told him. “I’ve gotta get home. It’s urgent.”
When I reached home, I ran straight up the stairs and into
my cousin’s bedroom without knocking.
Ambrose lifted his eyes from a worn copy of Oscar Wilde’s
Salome and lifted his eyebrows along with them. “Sabrina, I
might not have been decent. Not saying I’m decent now, in a
moral sense, but at least I’m wearing pants.”
He was wearing silk pajama pants and a red velvet robe, so
it wasn’t as if he was ready for an outing. If Ambrose ever had
outings.
“Your pants don’t concern me, Ambrose! This is important.”
“Many people find the topic of my pants to be important
and absorbing,” Ambrose claimed. He rolled off his bed, tying
the gold­tasseled sash on his robe tighter and slipping a dried
piece of deadly nightshade between the pages of his book.
I was still panting from my race home and up the stairs.

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I  couldn’t seem to catch my breath, but I said the words
anyway.
“Let’s do the spell.”
Ambrose lit up. “Fantastic! Are you up for a trip to the
woods? We’re going to need a few special ingredients, since
this is a very special spell. Cousin, did you get a sample of
Harvey’s hair?”
I nodded.
Ambrose smiled. “Good. So we have Harvey’s hair, the
candle, the rope, the lavender, the rosemary, and the coltsfoot,
but we need myosotis. I hear it grows in the woods.”
The woods are deadly, dark, and deep. There were once
witch trials in Greendale, as there were in Salem, though the
Greendale horror was buried and lost to history. Witches died
in the Greendale woods, and the hanging trees wait there.
I had never strayed off the woodland paths at night to col­
lect spell ingredients before, but maybe it was time I did.
I should become one acquainted with the night.
“The woods . . .” I said. “Sure.”
I didn’t have much time before my life changed, and when
it did, I had to be ready.
Prudence, Dorcas, and Agatha were always wandering
through those woods. I belonged in those woods. In a few short
weeks, I would be every bit as much a witch as they were.
***

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