HEY GUYS, remember the first time something was about to happen to Gillian, and the vampire grabbed her in the car, delivered a lame warning and ran away?
Yeah. This is a little like that.
So she’s in a tomb dating back to ancient Egypt. I bet you can guess what’s attacking her. NO REALLY, guess.
I wish I was fucking kidding you. You have the opportunity to write something about Egypt and vampires, which has a ton of potential, and the minor bad guy you go for is a shambling, rag-covered mummy? This is one of those moments when I wonder if this is supposed to be some ridiculous funhouse world that I’m not meant to take seriously, and I’m trying too hard to make sense of it. I really wish that was the case, because I could rest easy and be mildly amused by moments like this.
The mummy shuffles toward Gillian, and for some reason she can’t get away. I have no idea why. She says, “A Revenant was the only thing she could think to compare it too.” 1) you make the grammar Jesus cry and 2) I had to back up and try to figure out if I was supposed to know what a Revenant was. Nope. So this comparison means nothing to me. Oh, but it’s explained a little bit…several paragraphs later.
The narrative tells us several times that Gillian is scared. This is fine, except that at other points (i.e. when nothing is actually happened to her), the narrative insists that Gillian is a fearless badass. For someone who is not afraid to skip merrily out into an unfamiliar city while on the run from Baddy McBadderson because she’s A Marine Who is Always Prepared, she sure freaks out the second she (predictably) meets danger.
She has a near-miss situation where the mummy grabs her shirt, which probably just gives her an excuse to take it off. She manages to find the door to the tomb, but it’s chained shut. So what does she do?
She fires her gun at the freaking lock.
Now, I know just a little about guns from doing research about characters who like guns, but I do happen to know that they fire physical, metal projectiles at several hundred miles per hour. If you point a gun at another metal object from, say, a couple of feet away, in a tight space, what the fuck do you think is going to happen?
“The noise ricocheted in the tight hallway, nearly deafening her in the enclosed area.”
The noise does not ricochet. The bullet does. This is a video of what happens when you shoot a gun from too close to the target. (A little bit of blood, but not too bad. Motherfucker was lucky.) If you look at the comments, this is a metal target. And this guy was what, 30 feet away? The bullet didn’t just stop when it hit the target. There’s too much velocity. It’s going to bounce, and it’s gotta go somewhere. This guy was outdoors. Now imagine you’re a tiny blonde idiot, and you’re shooting a handgun at a metal target in a hallway.
Yeah, yeah, I’m that pedantic asshole who hates these moments in movies, too. But it’s just another thing that makes me so confused about this book. The author does some (admittedly half-hearted) research about Romania, does some world building, etc. but cannot be bothered to use common fucking sense about physics and guns?
She cruises back out into the city, where “there were no people anywhere in sight.” Let me remind you that she’s in Cairo, which is one of the biggest cities in the world. Whatever, let’s just get on with this shit. She manages to make it back to the vampire compound, where she runs into Anubis. He informs her that the Rachlavs were very concerned that she was out after dark. Of course they were, because they haven’t been sufficiently patronizing lately. Anubis says Osiris and the Rachlavs want to have a meeting. Gillian asks him what to wear, “her voice full of urgency.” I am not sure why she cares about this. She finds clothes laid out for her that don’t make her look delicate, because it is Very Important that the heroine look as masculine as possible in order to be appropriately badass.
Osiris is, predictably, mind-blowingly good-looking. “Pantie-liquifying,” even. My god, this woman is obsessed with what happens to her panties when she sees a man.
His eyes are “literally gold. Metallic, shimmering and triangular-shaped.” Triangular-shaped eyes? That sounds…weird. Then there’s this paragraph:
This was where innate telepathy was a phenomenal time-saver. Up until five seconds ago, Tanis, Aleksei and Anubis had been the most spectacular men she’d ever seen. Osiris made them all look merely average. Palms sweating, pulse accelerating, she moved toward the table.
What the hell does telepathy have to do with the rest of the paragraph? As these chapters wear on, there are so many aborted sentences like this.
Because no scene is complete without a head-hop, we get Osiris’s assessment of Gillian: “The little thing looked positively delicate, and he bet she hated that.” I’m almost ready to think Gillian’s aversion to looking delicate is understandable, given how fucking insulting every man in her vicinity is.
Osiris dresses her down for running off by herself, and we have a “he’s correct but also a dick” moment. She’s an idiot for running off alone, yes, but apparently “you frightened them and you should apologize.”
The men in this world exist to manipulate, police, and shame Gillian. It’s all the more uncomfortable because thus far she’s the only female character we’ve seen aside from a brief mention of Sekhmet. Really, the only one! Goddammit.
For some reason, Gillian doesn’t tell them about the mummy. Being telepathic, all the vampires know she’s lying immediately. Why the fuck would she do this, other than the fact that she wants to hide her own idiocy? She knows the vampires can read her mind. She knows she can’t lie to them, so why even try? Oh, probably so all the vampires can jump down her throat about lying and loyalty and etc.
Gillian says…wait for it… “I am just not accustomed to obeying without question.“
I could make an indignant remark about this, but Osiris does it for me: “You are a soldier, madam. You most certainly are accustomed to instant obedience.”
Again, I guess this is the author’s idea of being empowered: being free to make dumbass decisions without regard to anyone else’s feelings, concerns, or safety.
To her credit, Gillian takes the dressing down and apologizes. Osiris basically tells her, yeah yeah, just stop fucking up. My heavens, could this be a turning point for Gillian? Could all of this stupid shit have been purposeful on the author’s part and now we’re going to see real character growth?
Not holding my breath.
We’ve gone, like, a chapter and a half without my blood pressure spiking because of the Rachlavs, so I guess, so it’s that time again:
Tanis felt the tremor of fear in her. Good, he thought. It would do her good to face a little reality tonight.
Aleksei’s thoughts were on par with this. [presumably this is telepathic speech] “When we are through with this meeting, I intend to interject more harsh reality upon the piccola guerriera’s backside. For lying, of nothing else.”
And the brothers go back and forth about who gets to hit her.
This is sincerely gross, for reasons I’ve said before. And now they’re both in on it. What the fuck is wrong with authors and editors that they think this is okay? And not just okay, but sexy? Jesus.
PS, why did she lie in the first place?!
So after ragging on Gillian a while, they get back to their meeting. We finally get an explanation about why Osiris won’t just destroy Dracula: because his allies will still be in place and he can’t control them.
“We must fight and win this war openly. Only then will those who serve him and follow the path he has willingly set them on, be willing to come fully under the banner of either myself or Dionysus.”
Yep, because that’s how warfare works, especially civil warfare, which is exactly what this is. In the American Civil War, once the Union had its (arguably rather definitive) victory, the rebels totally came to heel immediately and completely, and slavery was abolished and everything was rosy forevermore.
Osiris goes on to insist that he’s not a tyrant and he won’t demand that Dracula’s forces surrender, blah blah, they’ll come willingly. He lectures on vampire warfare and how it’s not like human warfare. “There will be no bombs, no clash of troops. Subterfuge and subversion is how we destroy each other or win allegiances.” See, now this is actually super interesting. I could really get on board with this. But then I’m left wondering why Tanis and Aleksei wanted Gillian’s “expertise” so bad a few chapters ago. If they meant they wanted her for her special ops experience (not that she’s evinced any ability whatsoever to be subtle), maybe I would understand, but they don’t say that. What they said earlier was that they wanted her tactical abilities. And then later they insist she doesn’t understand vampire society, so she can’t help.
Consistency? What’s that?
Osiris is the most level-headed, reasonable character in the book so far, and I’d like him just for that even if he does venture into patronizing douchebag territory a bit. Then we have another “wtf is this saying” paragraph:
Gill, Aleksei, and Tanis also rose as Osiris padded silently from the room. At the door he paused and turned back, pinning Gillian with his eyes. Being food to the good guys was almost as bad as being food to the bad guys in her opinion, but she’d thrown her hat in the ring and she’d stand by it.
So Osiris looks at her and she starts talking about being food?
Osiris assures her, like all the vampires seem eager to do, that she’s not good and they care about her and etc. etc. Chapter ends.
So much needless shit in this chapter. There’s zero reason for Gillian to run off by herself except to assert her independence, I suppose. She promptly gets in trouble and runs back to the protection of the vampires, who promptly chastise her for her stupidity. The thing is, the author sets up the situation as a break for independence, presumably, and then she faces immediate (if stupid) consequences for that attempt at independence. So the author is setting her own character up here. I took a children’s literature class at one point and wrote a paper about something that made me mad (that’s what I do, write about what makes me mad): how so many children’s adventure stories: Narnia, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and so on, involve the kids striking out on their own, having adventures, and then are promptly booted back into the real world where no time has passed, and they’re back in their child bodies, usually getting scolded for being naughty. That’s exactly what this chapter reminds me of. Barf.