Two vampires, a werewolf, and a human idiot travel to Finland…
For some reason, among Gillian’s packed items is “a small packet of compartmentalized napalm. It would burn tinder no matter if it were dry or not, even in rain or snow.”
This is one of those things where I really want to think that the author knows more than I do. Maybe napalm is actually used for starting small fires. But, in my mind, this is napalm:
I feel like there are a billion other, actually realistic ways to start fires in wet weather that weren’t specifically developed as incendiary weapons of mass destruction, and Gillian, if she’s as competent as God and everybody says she is, would know at least some of them.
Gillian is nervous because she knows Aleksei would know they’ve fucked off to Finland (though how, I’m not sure). But wait, “she’d get bitchy and he’d leave her alone. She had never met a male she couldn’t bullet or intimidate. Aleksei had just caught her off guard before, a weak moment or two. That must be it.”
I have to credit the author for some unreliable narrator self-deception (because she ain’t fooling anybody else), except that it’s so ridiculous for her to still be thinking this way after 23 chapters of her being scared while the narrative assures her she’s not intimidated and can totes handle herself. I guess this is some kind of protagonist breakthrough? It could be good if it weren’t randomly mashed in as an afterthought in a travel sequence.
She gets an email from the IPPA telling her to stay safe. “She snorted derisively; they’d get over it.” This after the narrative has told us repeatedly that her license could be yanked or she could face other serious consequences for this. If she’s willing to face those consequences to save Tanis, she might be somewhat admirable, but as the narrative is utterly slippery and inconsistent regarding what those consequences might actually be, I really don’t see the gravity of the situation.
Oh, but we’re assured that Gillian’s boss will cover her, so there won’t actually be consequences.
So they’re headed toward Gillian’s buddy the elf. Her relationship with him is a nonsensical contradiction. She “hadn’t seen, talked to him or heard of him in years,” but “he was one of a handful of people that she trusted implicitly.” Elves are all honorable and shit, but “Mirrin was probably not thrilled to hear from her; they’d left things strained between them, but she hoped for the sake of loyalty and old times, he’d help.” Soooo…you parted on bad terms and are estranged, haven’t spoken in years, but you still trust him.
She falls asleep on the plane and Dante
rapes fucks her in her sleep again. That must be awkward. She wakes up to Pavel growling. He says, “Remove yourself from her, spirit.” Heheh. Remove yourself. Sex dream. Heheh. Get it? I’m sorry, I have to be juvenile to avoid spewing rage at the fact that non-consensual dream sex is happening.
At least she reacts semi-appropriately and is livid when she realizes Dante’s been doing her. In a legitimately disgusting moment, “Dante shimmered into solidity, lacing his pants casually as if all was well. He could have solidified fully clothed if he’d wanted to; as it was he was taunting her, a smirk on that lovely mouth of his.” The word lovely in this sentence would be a creepy counterpoint to the disgustingness of that sentence, except I’m pretty sure the author still means to sexualize the guy after it’s revealed to Gillian that he’s a rapist.
She puts a binding spell on him to make him solid and punches him, which is one of the only violent gestures she’s made that I fully support. She then says “There was no way in hell she was going to revisit a therapeutic relationship with him now.” Oh, well, THANK GOD FOR THAT. Is that statement seriously necessary? Does the author honestly think I’m stupid enough to wonder if Gillian was still going to be Dante’s therapist now?
Dante laughs and tells her she enjoyed it, which is classic rapist behavior that makes my stomach churn. At least it’s not treated as normal, but then Gillian has this inappropriately flippant thought: “That was a cheap shot. Fucking Ghost. Literally.” I really really hate the relatively casual way this is being treated. Gillian is furious, but I don’t sense her disgust and horror other than being told she’s disgusted and horrified, and the weight of the situation feels more like he grabbed her ass than repeatedly dream-raped her.
Apparently Gillian and Pavel are in trouble because it isn’t sunset yet, so the vampires can’t help them, and “she and Pavel wouldn’t last long in the midst of Ghost-generated fear without succumbing to panic and fleeing the plane into the darkening Finland evening.” While that’s actually a somewhat interesting tidbit, the sentence is super awkward. Aren’t they like…flying? The word “fleeing” makes it seem like they’ll try to escape on foot.
Gillian decides that the best course of action is to taunt Dante, because her peabrain is a hammer and every situation is a nail. Dante gets pissed and “the fear intensified,” even though I don’t feel that at all. Though she is “chattering [words] out between her jiggling teeth.” Gross. Remember when you were a kid and about to lose a baby tooth? That’s a jiggling tooth. Gillian keeps taunting despite the (ostensible) danger of being driven mad by Dante’s efforts to scare them. The binding spell she put on him breaks, and he disappears.
Uh, what? If he’s so angry, why doesn’t he attack once he’s not bound?
Oh, apparently they’re not flying, just sitting on the plane. …okay, whatever.
Pavel wisely points out Dante assaulted her.
WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE
“No, he actually didn’t, Pavel. In my dream state, I was not unwilling. It wasn’t rape, but he did take advantage of the situation.”
ARE YOU ACTUALLY KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD
This is the protagonist saying this, you guys.
And you know what? I can’t even blame her! She is a product of the revolting sexual politics the author has poured into this book like so much toxic waste–NAPALM, IF YOU WILL–where men have every right to push and pull women around and do whatever the fuck they want up to and including physical abuse and coercion and the only thing women can do is laugh it off or repeatedly call them sexist while justifying sexism by saying they’re just “old fashioned” because they’re indoctrinated into this abhorrent book universe I have such bad rage heartburn right now
I almost wish the book could go back to silly and boring, because the offensive shit just keeps getting more offensive.
Gillian finds stones in her bags. Now, 69% of the way through the book, it’s revealed that Gillian has “a touch of telepathy,” so she suddenly knows how Dante followed her. It turns out the stones are from the castle, and he used them to go beyond his usual haunting place. Another thing that’s kind of clever that I’m sure is going to end up being a throwaway piece, like the little paper umbrella in your Long Island iced tea. I feel like I need one of those. Make it a double.
Pavel offers to take the stones away, which seems like a wise move, but she tells him not to because “If we take away his ‘anchor,’ so to speak, it would be tantamount to murder in the Ghost domain” because he’d be stranded. “He’s an ass, but I can’t just destroy him.”
WHY THE FUCK NOT?!
He assaulted you repeatedly! Arguably, that’s not enough to commit murder (though I still don’t understand why stranding a ghost is murder…what about ghosts that wander in forests and whatnot?), but clearly he’s a bad guy. If she had an iota of sense (SHE DOESN’T), she’d realize he’s a threat.
She compromises by saying she’ll put a binding spell on the stones and “hope it holds.”
Which means it won’t, of course.
The vampires wake up and Pavel, again wisely, tells them that Dante has been “molesting” Gillian. On the one hand, thank fucking god someone has the sense to point this out, but on the other hand, it’s in complete opposition to Gillian’s insistence that it wasn’t rape. Unless it’s established early on that your protagonist is unreliable, your reader is going to accept your protagonist’s beliefs as the word of law for the story, because you’re supposed to believe in and root for the protagonist. So the fact that there are moments of sense that occasionally surface like grease from a stagnant puddle of shit water means very little.
The vampires say they’re upset, but their reaction is basically, “What? Gross.” Again, it’s like Gillian said the guy grabbed her ass instead of raped her. PS, we are seeing absolutely no emotional fallout from this terrible realization. I really, sincerely wish that I could believe Gillian was just on autopilot or in denial and she’ll feel it later. She had a vulnerable moment breakdown over the vampire threatening her in her car in an earlier chapter, which was at least half believable, but now…nothing.
A helicopter arrives for them. The pilot is a Marine Gillian knows, and he yells a “Hey sexy!” at her. Jesus fucking Christ, I’m convinced there is not a male-identified person in this universe who is not a sexist dickbag. Gillian has no problem with this catcall, of course, and she’s all cheerful as she introduces Luis, the pilot, to the vampires. Apparently he’s also a vampire, which I had to extrapolate from the fact that he says he’s “of [Dionysus’s] Line.” I do have to wonder how a vampire, who can only function when it’s dark out, would manage to be a Marine, but I’ve given up all hope of any kind of explanation for the interesting tidbits that occasionally get dropped. I feel like a dog waiting under the kitchen table for crumbs to fall on the floor and slurping them up without any idea of when more crumbs are coming or where they’re coming from.
Luis is, predictably, perfect and beautiful. “His hair was a little long for the military but the Joint Chiefs of Staff were a little more lenient with their paranormal enlistees and officers than with their Human counterparts.” Um…why?
They take off for Bumfuck, Finland, and the chapter mercifully ends.
Sweet Jesus. I just can’t even with this. I am so mad at this author. She sprinkles in some pseudo-feminist bullshit about consent with Tanis at the beginning, but then shows me she knows absolutely nothing about what the actual idea of real consent is. LKH’s sexual politics and views on rape must have rubbed off on Gryphon, because I’m seeing some really nauseating parallels between them as I read Tiger‘s breakdown of Narcissus in Chains.
I really hope this book ends with Gillian trying to start a fire with napalm and obliterating herself and everyone else but maybe Pavel in a jet of flame.