Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conspiracy, Chapter 2

So far we’ve had fucky pacing, inept worldbuilding, and lack of research. So, you know, Gillian Key standard. But so far, Gillian hasn’t made me want to kill her yet, which I consider an accomplishment on the author’s part.

I already forgot what they were supposed to be doing, which isn’t surprising either.

Oh, yeah, they were following the brownies to somewhere for reasons. Or something?

Here’s a nice sentence:

Thinking about the fact that the pedophiles they were searching for might be, or might have ties to, Lycanthropes of some kind, Gillian reached back and removed the twelve-inch knife from its spine sheath.

Strangely, though there are a lot of commas in that sentence, they’re all acceptable stylistically if not 100% correct grammatically. That aside, it’s constructed a little like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s supposed to do a fine job connecting two ideas, but it wiggles way too much.

Now, this unnecessary knife pulling might remind you of the last time she brandished it. I’m pretty sure it was a couple inches shorter at that point too, though still completely implausible. Out of curiosity, I hunted down a ruler. It reaches from the small of my back almost to the top of my shoulder blades. I’m 5’10”, and as we know, Gillian is tiny/diminutive/petite/pocket-sized. Assuming twelve inches means hilt to tip and not the length of the blade, the thing has got to be stabbing her in the back of the head. How the fuck does she even move around with it strapped to her back? Not to mention it would be a really awkward draw.

huge knife
“I keep it in my bra.”

The first smart part of the world building in this series, maybe ever, is the fact that “Most Lycanthropes outside of large metropolitan areas tended to settle in geographically compatible locations specific to their type–that way the Shift didn’t stand out as much.” I can’t help but wonder if this is a dig at LKH’s ridiculous piles of wolves-tigers-leopards-lions-swans-snakes-chinchillas.

Something roars, and despite the narrative basically telling us it’s a shifter, Pavel shows up to say exactly the same thing. Gillian tells him not to stand in front of them because “he was just as squishy as they were.” That’s…new and unexpected. I kinda like it because usually shifters are nigh indestructible in UF.

There’s apparently more than one shifter, and they’re having a conversation. Presumably these are the “pedophiles.” And somehow, despite being shifters, they neither hear nor smell the big group of supernaturals and the countless brownies hanging out nearby. Gillian can somehow see him quite clearly, too, but he somehow can’t see her.

holding coffee with toe

The ringleader has a moose shifter on a chain. I can kind of appreciate that there are shifters other than apex predators in this book, especially since moose are badasses when they want to be.

Oh wait, what? So the new shifters do see them, and they think Gillian’s team is helping them. Christ, these guys are idiots. A group of strange supernaturals, plus three humans, rolls up pointing weapons, and they think said group is there to help them?

special kind of idiot

Gillian’s team is all of a sudden afraid Gillian will lose her temper. Their fear is warranted, since she displays no anger management skills or impulse control whatsoever. You know, that’s some abusive relationship shit there. If your entire team, most of whom are objectively more badass than you are, live in fear of your temper, that is fucked up.

So the two shifters holding the moose captive are named




…and Natasha.


Holding a moose captive.


what in the actual fuck

I…don’t know how to feel about this. I’m sure Gryphon thinks she’s being terribly clever here. Am I supposed to giggle? Appreciate her wit? Because I’m doing neither. It’s one thing to use Jack the Ripper and Oscar Wilde as celebrity supernaturals (which I hated anyway), but to use fucking cartoon characters? In a book that, ostensibly, we’re supposed to take seriously?


Well, book, you had potential for improvement over the first one, and you’ve squandered it 10% in. I hope you’re happy.

Gillian is pissed and wants to hurt them. She admonishes herself for thinking that way since she’s a psychologist, because apparently a psychologist should be completely zen all the time. “Still, she was a soldier right now, and a Special Ops Expert. Assassin. Executioner.


Dear Talia Gryphon, please extract your tongue from between LKH’s asscheeks. Thanks.

Boy, it’s early in the book for me to have rolled my eyes this much.

Boris and Natasha lead the team plus Bullwinkle toward the child trafficker camp, which is a compound that reminds Gillian of “a concentration camp.” Oh, don’t even fucking go there. You have to sell me real hard on your comparison to a fucking concentration camp, and two pages after introducing goddamn cartoon characters as bad guys is not the time. You cannot just throw shit out there for shock value. It’s like saying Jack the Ripper’s pile of bodies is comparable to the Rwandan genocide. Both are terrible, but you cannot compare one terrible thing to an objectively exponentially larger terrible thing just to tell me how bad it is.

fuck this fucking shit


So the leader guy, who’s only identified by red hair, is also not the least bit suspicious, even though Gillian’s team is supposed to be escorting the kids…wherever…but don’t have a vehicle with them. He brings the kids out.

Gillian notices there are fewer kids here than were kidnapped, so she asks where they are. This turns out to be a fuck-up, because the order (from whoever the idiots think the team is working for) was only for this group of kids. The leader guy says he’ll “show you everything we have.”

Which means all their guns, which are now pointed at the team.


End chapter.

Just when I thought this book was an improvement over the last one.


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