Every time I start a chapter, I have some faint hope I won’t end up tasting bile for hours after I finish. We’ll see.
Alexei storms off after throwing a fit in Gillian’s general direction. He’s mad because Gillian will “terminate their professional relationship in an instant if he showed interest in her outside of counseling.” Glad to know she has some kind of ethical boundary? For now? Naturally, though, I’m sure he’s going to push and coerce and manipulate and peck at her till she gives in, because that’s how men work in this fucking book.
We’re treated to just a little worldbuilding about how “complex and multilayered” vampire society is, how humans are “respected and guarded with a ferocity unmatched in Human society.” Remember that comic at the end of the last chapter’s post? Yeah. In other words, this is a built-in excuse for vampires to be sexist and oppressive under the guise of “protecting” Gillian. Yay.
Alexei is very disturbed by the idea of Gillian being nabbed by Dracula. It “nearly [stops] his heart; not that it needed to beat constantly, but the pain was still very real,” because that’s exactly the moment we needed to know that.
Blah blah, Alexei wants Gillian real bad. Suddenly he hears Dracula’s voice in his thoughts. Dracula wants Gillian to “assist [Alexei] in adjusting to [Dracula’s] authority,” whatever that means. Alexei calls on his own “impressive power” to use the telepathic satellite phone to call…wait for it…Osiris. I’m mildly interested in the idea of Osiris being a vampire, so I’ll roll with it. The book tells us this about Osiris:
One-on-one, face-to-face, he could obliterate Dracula with a single thought, command him to destroy himself, make him his slave. Osiris, however, was honorable and benevolent. A civilized ruler, he had kept his own sect peaceable and as secret as possible.
So he could get rid of this villain who’s supposed to be terrorizing the world, thereby preventing (presumably) uncountable deaths, etc. etc., but he doesn’t…because he’s a nice guy, and nice guys…don’t kill big bad villains.
Look, I could actually maybe buy it if one incredibly powerful being were so old and reclusive that he gives no shits about the world anymore and thinks everyone else should deal with Dracula. That would make him a dick, but that thought would be somewhat more in line with incredibly powerful, ancient beings. More convincingly, Osiris could be evenly matched with Dracula but not want to risk his comfortable life. The whole “I’m such a good guy that I won’t kill the bad guy” thing, however, is complete bullshit, especially if all Osiris has to do is step on a plane, confront Dracula, and whap Dracula with his gigantic mind-dick until he’s dead. Inaction does not a good guy make.
More world building that’s basically a repetition of what’s already been said: Dionysus is chaotic, Osiris is orderly, Dracula is a tyrant. He’s REALLY BAD, you guys. Really really bad. So bad there’s pages and pages about how bad he is. Part of his method of building allies is “the revolution of the Goth culture worldwide,” because every Goth person wants to be a vampire, I guess? He also has allies among other paramortal people, including “Werebeasts, Ghouls, Ghosts, even some of the darker and light Fey.” Why has it taken until Chapter 9 for these other paramortal types to even be mentioned? World building: this is not how you do it.
Finally, Alexei goes to sleep. Vampires apparently have to sleep in a coffin or in the earth to rest. Mildly interesting, but only mildly. Now we’re hopping to Tanis’s mind so he can tell us more about Osiris.
Gillian wakes up the next day and calls her superiors at the IPPA (this universe’s version of the APA only presumably more apt to interfere with things). They give her “carte blanche to do what she needed to stay alive and pull her client through, since he was apparently a main stumbling block in Dracula’s plan.” I guess somehow her madd therapy skillz are supposed to keep him alive? Also, in what way is Alexei a stumbling block? Oh, apparently the IPPA only now sees fit to tell her that Alexei “was sort of the unofficial major domo over the Vampires in Romania” and they want to be nice to Alexei because they want client referrals.
That’s why she should be nice to him? Client referrals? Also, why are we just now being told this? I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: I feel like I’m reading the author’s first draft, where we’re told world building shit as it occurred to the author rather than where it actually needs to be.
There’s some weak “oh but we need information from Alexei” thing. The IPPA wants Gillian to stay and keep learning what she can. ABOUT WHAT, AND WHY?! Who knows.
We’re informed for the hojillionth time that “Gill had never been prone to anxiety of any kind. She was calm, cold and calculating on the battlefield.” Because saying things makes them real and believable! Because she’s such a badass, she’s going to fly in the face of (presumed) danger (I guess) to visit Dante, her ghost client. Oh boy, this ought to be wonderfully boring.
La la la, we basically have a reprise of their first session. Now Dante is calling her “sweetness” in Italian. Why the fuck will nobody just call her an English pet name, or better yet, not objectify her with a pet name to begin with? We’re informed that “Dante had never really taken a female seriously. Until now.” Because…fuck, I don’t know. Because.
Dante is all over her trying to thank her, and it’s established once again that he has body heat. “Ghosts were about scaring the shit out of you. Okay, he was doing that too. Point for Dante. Gads.” But, as you may remember, Gillian is such a badass, she’s not prone to anxiety. Except she’s afraid of literally every other character in this book. I’m not saying she hasn’t earned the right to be afraid of the abusive, manipulative Rachlavs, but if you keep fucking telling me she’s not supposed to be afraid, what am I supposed to think? WHAT, I ask you?
Dante feels “heaviness growing between his legs.“
Two in a row. Too much? Sorry.
Dante’s narrative says, “There were many things the lady did not know about the dead, it seemed.” I’m kind of astonished by the level of general cluelessness Gillian displays. I mean, really. She’s been doing this paramortal psychologist thing for a while, presumably. In this world, magic has been around for a long time, if it hasn’t been around forever (this isn’t really clear). Why does she need so much shit explained to her, and why does she not know so much? Because the reader doesn’t know anything? Having a character who isn’t knowledgeable can be a good avenue for explaining things to the reader, but it’s not always necessary, and in a situation like this, it’s awkward and makes Gillian look stupid. She doesn’t need any help in that regard.
Blah blah, Dante has a boner. For some reason, that’s weird. “Ghosts didn’t have blood, blood pressure or arteries with which to fill a penis.” But he’s not a zombie, right? He’s a spirit who can change shape and form at will? Presumably? Why does he need blood vessels to get hard? THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?!
Gillian wants to know, “What the hell just happened?” Please god someone tell me.
Dante wants Gillian bad. “Living or dead didn’t matter to him but he made up his mind in that moment that she would be his.”
OH BOY ANOTHER MAN WHO WANTS TO POSSESS HER THAT’S MY FAVORITE TROPE EVER
Gillian ruminates on Dante on her way back to the cabin. We’re basically told the same shit about Dante that the book has told us before. She doesn’t know why he can transubstantiate to the point where he can touch her. Presumably this is important to the plot, but she doesn’t actually make any effort to figure out how, and certainly no connection is made to the larger situation with Dracula. I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly the first place my mind would go if I ran across something that was terribly out of the ordinary.
And can I just stop to wonder again why there’s an Italian ghost in fucking Romania?
This is the most awkward chapter break so far, which ends after a semi-complete treatise on ghosts that I don’t care about and can’t be bothered to explain. At least Gillian admits that she should do some research before she goes back to see Dante. Every now and again she actually displays some competence, though only to the level that I would hope the average fucking person would rise.
I, like, can barely be mad at this chapter because it’s so pointless and confusing. There’s a bunch of muddled shit that does not in any way make a whole or even add in a clear, concrete way to what we know about Gillian’s situation, which is precious fucking little at this point. We are now 30% of the way through this book and I have no idea what’s going on. I do know I give zero fucks. This chapter is little other than an endless info-dump about things I should have known about chapters and chapters ago. The only bright spot is that I didn’t get heart palpitations of rage.