Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conspiracy, Chapter 6

After spending the day reading dense theoretical discussions of the subaltern and student assignments, I’m back to hang out with Gillian. Because apparently I hate myself.

Though actually, I read this chapter a while back and don’t remember hating it. I wasn’t sure what the fuck was going on, but you know, I’m almost used to that.

So Gillian and Team Shit-for-Brains, along with Helmut, the Wiccans Spiritualist and Helmut’s nameless, faceless grad students from Who Knows 101, go into this massively haunted house. The Spiritualists are extravagantly incompetent in order to make Gillian seem like she knows what she’s doing. One of them has the “coven name” Nutmeg, which Gillian thinks is pants-shittingly hysterical. Isn’t there a word for an idiot who’s planted to make someone look better? My post-surgery cognitive impairment continues and I can’t remember what it is.

i'm with stupid

Gillian senses something Big and Nasty, but she doesn’t tell them at first and is all like, “No big,” until the Spiritualists are dumb and then she says there’s something icky out there. Jenna and Helmut are like “wtf?” AND SO AM I. Why the fuck does this fool insist on hiding shit for no goddamn reason from the people who need to know?

Gillian chews on Helmut for bringing people into a dangerous situation–which, you will note, she told them wasn’t that bad–and he basically says, “Well, they signed waivers and shit, not our responsibility.” He’s kinda right, but so is she; she says he asked her to help out, so she actually is responsible for the gaggle of fools. I would give her kudos for taking responsibility for the situation, except that she’s doing it for reasons completely apart from the fact that she fucked up by giving them the impression everything wasn’t as bad as it was.

So a ghost of a crying little girl appears and everyone is fascinated. Gillian basically thinks it’s a decoy: “This was less like a Ghost and more like a shade–the impression or imprint of a spirit rather than the emotional energy a Ghost gave off.”

mildly interesting

There’s a paragraph or so of tension building that’s halfway decent. Gillian leads everyone up the stairs, and at some point they realize two Spiritualists are missing. Gillian suddenly realizes

admiral ackbar

Yep, you got it.

Gillian spends at least a full page shrieking at everyone to get out, and there’s some painfully slow-motion description of everyone taking up positions. I’m not sure where everyone is or where they’re going. Did I say I didn’t hate this chapter? I think I was lying.

Gillian does some ritually stuff with willow oil, kleenex, and tobacco smoke. I wish there was more of, you know, actively supernatural stuff in these books instead of people just sort of standing around being werewolves or vampires or what-the-fuck-evers. Oh, but here’s Aleksei on the brain phone again asking if Gillian is okay, but she hangs up on him. I think he just keeps popping in to remind us he still exists, or something?

So there’s more chaos as they try to find the two Spiritualists and I’m not sure where everyone is or what they’re doing. I THINK Gillian and Team Shit-for-Brains are still on the stairs, and the idiot posse are all downstairs at the front door.

They all felt it then. The very air became heavy, dark and putrid, almost like liquid that has filled a grave for too long…. A swelling, swirling morass combining with the very air around them. Ectoplasmic tendrils snaked out, ruffling hair, touching faces, while the main segment of it boiled darkness and nothingness together in an otherworldly broth. The pitch matte black of the Abyss warred with vacuous dead-fish-belly gray as it roiled and buckled.

That’s not an awful description? Maybe the best I’ve read so far. At least I get the sense of Lovecraftian horror that I assume she’s going for. I think this is what I was remembering when I said I didn’t hate this chapter.

Gillian is trying to deal with this thing in conflict with the emotions of all the people who are with her, but of course she can totally do it and doesn’t struggle very much at all, because we can’t have our protagonist actually work for something.

dog eating

And then there’s this.

It was as if thousands of souls were trapped in anguish rather than agony…

obi wan kenobi

Did anybody else go there? Just me?

Anyway, here’s the whole quote:

It was as if thousands of souls were trapped in anguish rather than agony, but it was disturbing and painful.

pete and repeat were sitting in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

It was painful rather than painful, but it was disturbing and painful.

Got it?


It’s bad, y’all. Real bad bad. Awful rather than terrible, but horrifying and atrocious.

McNeill and Claire show up and Claire tells Gillian, “We thought you might need us.” For what, I’m still not sure. McNeill says “Jesus,” and Gillian says, “distractedly,”

“Jesus saves; the rest of the party takes half damage.”

jim carrey not really laughing

So McNeill figures out what they’re looking at, which is a Gate.

We’re not told what that is, because that’s the end of the chapter.

Apparently my memory was clouded by that one short stretch of decent description, because this chapter sucks balls. We have a bunch of running around without any actual blocking, plus, as usual, way too much talking and quipping to keep the tension high. Had this chapter been half the length it is right now, with Gillian actually attempting (and struggling) to do something, it would be one of the more successful chapters I’ve read from this author thus far, but it fails to meet even those low expectations.

Goddamn, I almost prefer the rage boners I got from the last book to this painful limping plot cock blocking.

Dear Talia Gryphon:

By Cowsrule via DeviantArt
By Cowsrule via DeviantArt

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