When last we left our dear Gillian, she was about to get killed by Jack the Ripper.
At least she has the sense to be scared, but it takes her like six pages to realize he’s Jack the Ripper. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, this one. He helpfully informs her, and the reader, of his “conventional” name after she’s already figured it out, just in case the reader is as dumb as Gillian is.
And there’s a little head-hop paragraph wherein Jack is an even bigger straw misogynist than the others:
They were all the same no matter what century they were in. All of them were in need of guidance and purification from a strong men, especially these modern ones who dressed and acted like men. Sluts.
Three things here. First, I fail to see how dressing and acting masculine = slut. I suppose it’s just a straw misogynist insult that makes him Baddy McBadderson. Second, I’m pretty sure they’re actually not dressed “like men,” unless they’ve changed from their Lycra leopard print marabou feather Lisa Frank outfits from before. Third, why the actual fuck is every male vampire in this book hopelessly entrenched in the era in which they were born? Is part of being a vampire the complete inability to adapt to new situations? I hate this trope. If anything, a vampire ought to be highly adaptable, or they wouldn’t survive for centuries.
Gillian opens her mouth again because she possesses not an ounce of fucking sense but a very heavy suit of Plot Armor. Jack points out that he’s a sexual sadist and not just a serial killer, and he knows this phrase because he “keep[s] up with [the] world’s current events and terms.” But not its views on gender, I suppose.
Jack has been twirling a scalpel this entire time to threaten them, but then he goes to leave the room without touching them because that scalpel isn’t enough to cut through all that Plot Armor. Gillian decides to kick Jack and there’s an awkward fighting scene that ends in “her alarmed eyes meeting a pair of rust-brown orbs.” Jesus Christ, did the author not get the memo that using the word “orbs” for eyes went out with junior high fanfic? And it gets even better because his “fangs [slam] down.”
Gillian keeps calling him a “sick twist,” a phrase I’ve never heard used in reference to a person before. This book is certainly a sick twist on someone’s idea of a vampire book.
Jack doesn’t even hurt her, though, because Dracula doesn’t want her to. Fucking punch her in the face for me, Jack. JUST DO IT.
He’s dropped his scalpel and Gillian nabs it as he skips out of the room.
Kimber asks whether that’s really Jack the Ripper and Gillian says,
“I think so […] His clothing was not quite period, but close enough to the nineteenth century.”
Because apparently Gillian is a historical fashion expert and Jack has owned the same clothes for two hundred years.
“Did you notice how unobtrusive he was? Even now I can’t remember what the hell he looked like.”
Well, I can’t say someone who threatened you with a scalpel and “slammed” his fangs and his “orbs” on you is unobtrusive, but okay.
Gillian and Kimber have a calm little chat on how his general unobtrusiveness made him a good serial killer, and they get out of the ropes. The vampires are apparently hilariously incompetent and neglected to strip them of their guns, so they’re armed now and they’re going to try to escape.
And here’s Kimber, who’s now my hero, coming in to say,
“Some fucking therapist you are, pissing off a sick bastard like that. As an operative, you know better than that! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Gillian admits that was stupid, but we’ve seen this before and we know she never goddamn learns, probably because there’s never any goddamn consequences for her stupidity. I’m all for characters making mistakes, even stupid ones. I have a character who is belligerent and has a hard time shutting his mouth when he needs to, but it’s not a good thing, the reader is not meant to appreciate his pluckiness, and he isn’t universally adored and admired for it.
Gillian is forgiven, of course, and she and “Kimmy” have a semi-genuine friendship moment that I’d appreciate if I didn’t think Kimmy was just as much an idiot for following Gillian around.
Gillian spots a false wall…
…and somehow Kimber produces a mini crossbow from her cleavage.
Now, I have a lot of cleavage. I mean like, a lot. But I know for a fact I could not conceal six inches of crossbow in it without it a) being monumentally uncomfortable and b) painfully obvious, especially if I was hauled around and tied up for who knows how long.
They open the hidden door, walk out, and there’s a bunch of
oh my god
Transvestite streetwalkers. Some looked as though they had been very feminine looking in life. There must have been fifty or more slaughtered bodies in that room. There were indeed a number of female bodies as well, but the ones with the most damage to them, however, were the males. Wondering who had a beef with the local tranny hookers, Gill jumped when Kimber poked her and looked up.
OH BOY NOW LET’S HAVE SOME INTENSELY TRANSPHOBIC SHIT THIS IS MY FAVORITE BOOK IN THE WHOLE WORLD
You know what will make this really grotesque? If there’s a bunch of dead hookers, only they’re really men ISN’T THAT GROSS ICKY BAD?!
I’ll assume you’ll all be familiar with the many reasons why that paragraph is unbelievably fucked up.
Gillian and Kimber climb out through a basement window and are found by Trocar and Pavel, who remarks that they smell icky. Gillian points out that there are a bunch of “male transvestites” down there and it
“probably pissed [Jack] off to no end to find some of them were not of the correct gender; that’s why their bodies are so much more mutilated than the females.”
I know I said I wouldn’t resort to ad hominem attacks on the author, but Dear Ms. Gryphon, THIS IS SOME ILL-INFORMED TRANSPHOBIC SHIT. If this is your fumbling way of representing trans violence (the notion that trans women are trying to “trick” cis dudes into fucking them), I have this to say to you:
The fucking idea that “male transvestites” (how do you know they aren’t trans women?) are “not of the correct gender” is some basic How Not to Talk About Trans People 101. Though I suppose I should know better than to expect sensitive treatment of gender variance from a book that oozes misogyny like the world’s worst jelly donut.
(PS, don’t ever google “oozing.” Just don’t.)
I’m absolutely sure all these bodies are meaningless to the plot and are used purely for sensationalist gross-out value, too, which, you know, for trans people, feels JUST AWESOME.
Anyway. I’m going to try not to become entrenched in rage and just go back to rolling my eyes and scoffing.
A Revenant (still don’t know what that is) comes shuffling toward them and Gillian shoots its head off, because blasting a gun while trying to escape quietly is a fantastic idea. Pavel smells something not human back inside, and they all head back down.
To no one’s surprise, they find Tanis. He’s been “nearly drained dry” but is apparently still alive. The narrative tells us that Gillian is horrified, but only in like three sentences, and everything else remains in the same goddamn monotone it’s been for the past like fifteen chapters.
Then a ghost shows up (??) and starts screaming at them to get away from Tanis and stop hurting them. What the fuck? Gillian manages to calm the ghost (Grace) down, and yet another side character shows up: a tiny little fairy telling them to step away from Tanis. Gillian is getting on my last fucking nerve at her complete inability to be anything but utterly rude and disrespectful, and she says, “We’re a little busy here and I’m not going to debate what we should do with a being the size of Peter Pan’s wiener.”
The Fey turns full size and attacks Gillian, which she completely fucking deserves. She chops Gillian in the throat and moves toward her again, but the rest of her Plot Armor Posse take the Fey down.
Blah blah, let’s finally get the fuck out of here.
But oh, Dracula has Luis too.
This chapter could actually be decent in concept, but as usual, the execution turns it into a giant pile of shit crowned in a frosting of offensive throwaway sensationalism. Not to mention the constant punch-pulling. Yeah, let’s throw Celebrity Vampire at them only so he can scuttle off without touching them. Let’s throw some random bad guys at them next, but they don’t actually pose any threat other than causing Gillian some momentary discomfort. (This is the first actual combat injury she’s received, by the way, 90% of the way through the book.)
Gillian has faced absolutely no consequences for her bullshit. This is nonsense. Your protagonist ought to have a giant target painted on their back just because they’re the protagonist. They’ve got to suffer. They’ve at least got to earn what they achieve. She’s had to make no sacrifices whatsoever. I’m just waiting for the Anita Blake style climax scene where she gets knocked out and other people handle her shit for her.
I HATE YOU GILLIAN.