The Devil’s Pact
V. S. McGrath
(The Devil’s Revolver #3)
Publication date: December 18th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Hold on to your hats — the Devil’s Revolver series is back with an evil twin, deep magic, zombies, menacing grand balls, a train heist, hand-to-hand high-stakes battles, and two sisters who have grown in their power to face and fight the end of the Weird West.
If Hettie Alabama could do what she was told and stand down . . . she might not anyway. Especially when the letters her sister sends from her place of hiding don’t seem quite right, and Hettie’s posse is tying her hands tighter by the day. She’s itching to take the safety off her cursed mage gun, the Devil’s Revolver, and walk through the fire to end the reign of evil that’s choking the magic out of the West—not to mention save her sister once and for all.
The only problem? Hettie’s name is in the headlines and on every wanted poster in the nation—but she’s not the one robbing banks and killing innocents, even if the pictures look just like her. She’s up to her chin in high-necked gowns and beauty glamors, charged with fulfilling her word to the influential Favreau family of New Orleans, even as it becomes increasingly clear that they want only to consolidate the world’s waning magic in the hands of the rich and powerful. The politics get more personal as the most loyal of Hettie’s gang uncover the threat of an immoderate technology that steals magic from the unwitting innocent and transfers it to the nefarious elite.
Hettie has no choice but to go rogue, and when she drops a black hat over her brow, the Devil’s Revolver’s trigger glows hot. The Devil’s Pact stampedes from San Francisco’s Chinatown tongs through the glittering high society of Chicago to the hidden swamps of the Deep South in its search for truth, genuine justice, and an end to a world that refuses to recognize the power and change wrought by girls.
She clambered over the rooftops, jumping the gaps between buildings with relative ease, since they were so close together. She spotted a large canvas-covered cart in the street pulled by four ragged horses. It was one of those old covered wagons like they used back when settlers were still making their way across the country, and it looked out of place in the city. Hettie climbed down a fire escape, but as she wove through traffic, the time bubble popped—
Suddenly, she was smack-dab in the middle of oncoming traffic. A man shouted and hauled on his reins. His hansom cab buckled violently, and the horse reared. Hettie scampered out of the way of its hooves and directly into the path of another cart. The man’s horses faltered and tried to skirt around her, but then the cart they were pulling plowed into them, and they whinnied in panic, veering to the side and crashing into another rider.
Hettie ran toward the covered wagon, summoning Diablo and trying to re-establish the time bubble. No good. The same thing had happened during the train robbery.
A man peeked out of the covered wagon. He shouted and drew his sidearm. Hettie zigzagged to avoid the gunshots and pulled Diablo’s trigger, unleashing a blast of green power that incinerated the man’s arm up to his shoulder.
Two more men appeared with rifles. Hettie ducked left and rolled behind a cart as the bullets bit into the cab, showering her with splinters. The passengers within screamed.
Traffic ground to a halt and people dove out of their vehicles while the drivers tried to get their horses under control. The covered wagon surged forward and plowed through the street while the men in the back continued an assault on the cab Hettie hid behind.
She had to stop that wagon.
She whipped around the corner and fired. Diablo let out a wide beam of power that took out the right two wheels. The wagon collapsed with a loud crash, sending up a wake of splinters. The whole right side of the wagon tore off, and the canopy ripped away from the U-shaped frame as it snapped up like angry fish spines.
People screamed as carts, drivers and pedestrians tried to escape the gunfire and chaos. Horses thrashed and reared, whinnying as the vehicles piled up. Hettie ran toward the wagon.
It was empty. Unless Dr. Fielding had somehow escaped…
One of the men with the rifles who’d tumbled from the wagon pushed up off the ground. He spotted Hettie and, in a panic, reached for his pistol.
Hettie pointed Diablo at him. “Don’t.”
He blinked at her. “I-I-I’m sorry, Mizzay, I didn’t realize—” He stuttered to a stop. “Wait, you’re not—”
Hettie cocked Diablo for show. “Where’s Dr. Fielding?”
He gaped. “I—I don’t know—”
Hettie blew a molten hole in the ground next to his feet, and he stumbled back. “Where is he?”
“I was just supposed to stay in the cart! I don’t know anything!” His eyes canted left. Hettie reacted a second too late.
Someone cinched an arm around her neck and dragged her backward. Hettie struggled, dropping Diablo as she tried to pry her fingers under the man’s elbow to get a breath.
She sank her teeth into the man’s thick muscle, then slammed her heel into his shin, twisting to throw him off balance. He yelped and let go. She dove for Diablo and before she could stop herself, fired.
The man’s shriek was cut off almost instantly as he evaporated, flaring like a hellish green grease fire.
The agony of the revolver’s blood price was instant, shredding through skin, flesh and bone as it extracted one year of Hettie’s life for the life she’d taken. The pain went on and on, as if she were the one being consumed by flame. It’d been months since she’d killed a man; months since she’d slaked Diablo’s bloodthirst. And the mage gun’s appetite was insatiable. For a flash, she thought she was back in hell, being swallowed and forced down into Satan’s gullet—and then it was over.
Through the haze of relief, Hettie barely registered the person standing over her, pistol drawn, its blank, black eye winking at her.
Vicki So, writing as V. S. McGrath, is a published romance author (as Vicki Essex) and has six books with Harlequin Superromance: Her Son’s Hero (July 2011); Back to the Good Fortune Diner (January 2013), which was picked for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sizzling Book Club; In Her Corner (March 2014); A Recipe for Reunion (March 2015); Red Carpet Arrangement (January 2016); and Matinees with Miriam (November 2016). She lives in Toronto, Canada.