Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conspiracy, Chapter 8

Well, here we go. Jenna and Gillian are escaping from Dr. Jack’s hospital. Jenna gets Gillian outside, and they meet with McNeill and Claire. And apparently Helmut and Pavel, who has…

blue, blue eyes.

ugh please

There’s a nice little imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-asslicking moment for you. For those not familiar, Laurell K. Hamilton simply loves to repeat adjectives for no good reason. The only way this could be better/worse is if it was “drowning blue, blue eyes.”

Jenna tells the group Jack the Ripper is in the hospital. I don’t recall Gillian ever being forthright enough with McNeill and Claire or…any of them except Pavel to tell them about Jack, but nobody has any “whut??” reaction. I choose to believe they’re all rolling their eyes at how stupid that sounds, just like I did.

Anyway, McNeill chooses to handle the situation sensibly and loads everyone into the car. PS, McNeill moves “liquidly,” which makes me think he’s wandering around peeing his pants constantly. He asks Gillian where she wants to go, and she says…


Okay. Whatever. Gillian’s reasoning is that “He’s got informants and spies everywhere, even in immigration.” And she knows this somehow despite only having met Jack twice for a total of probably half an hour in two completely different places. Thanks for swooping in to plant important information through your mouthpiece protagonist, Talia Gryphon, despite the fact that she has no reason to know it.

oh thanks it's very helpful

When McNeill expresses incredulity, Gillian lays out all the information she kept from him for no good reason earlier. Better late than ever, I guess?

Jack comes running out of the hospital, and Jenna wants to shoot him. There’s some ridiculous scuffle in the car, but nothing comes of it.

McNeill sensibly asks why Gillian wants to go to France. She says there aren’t many vampires. Claire–you know, the one who grew up in France?–say she thought there were a lot, but Helmut says that’s “Hollywood myth in action.” How many French Hollywood vampires do you know of besides Lestat? Is she making another stupid Anita reference?

Again rather sensibly, McNeill is trying to make plans for what they need to do next and when they get to France, especially because, “I have no clue as to where we are going to locate a doctor if your alleged Vampire Army has spies stationed in major medical facilities.

This makes complete sense to me, which of course means Gillian thinks he’s an idiot for worrying about it. She says, “You haven’t done this before, have you?” Well no, you smug fuck, he’s a detective, not a S00p3r L33t Sp3c1al F0rc3s Marine Captain Therapist of the Stars. Apparently McNeill is going to be the scapegoat to make fun of for the rest of the book because he’s slightly uptight but mostly completely fucking reasonable.

Dear Gillian:

i said you were an asshat, not an asset

Pavel says he can smell vampires “waiting in ambush to attack the car.” Jenna, because she’s also a smug fuck, informs him that the word is “hijack… If you are going to hang with us, you should know the right terms.” I mention this solely because of the tragically stupid shit that follows. Pavel, who I actually like a fair bit as a character, is made out to be stupid enough to think Jenna is saying “hi” to Jack. Gillian reminds Jenna of the “language barrier.” Now, I work with a lot of international students. I would venture to say over half of the students I’ve taught at my current school grew up somewhere other than the US. But not once has any of them made a completely illogical mistake like this. Why make my poor buddy Pavel look like a complete idiot?

Well, that probably won’t get resolved, because now we’re jumping into McNeill’s head. He’s upset because Gillian told him she knows he’s part Fey and he’s really ashamed of the fact. He wants to be normal. Why?

Male Fey had a problem with Humans assuming they were all gay due to their incredible, almost feminine beauty. Brant was straight and a bit of a homophobe. It pissed him off to no end to have someone question his orientation.

This is apparently what passes for nuanced character development: equating femininity with homosexuality and insisting that while McNeill is holyshit amazeballs beautiful (like every single male in this book–are there no average-looking dudes?), he’s totally straight you guyz. Don’t worry about those attractive but yucky gays. You won’t find any here.

no homo

Something lands on the car hood, and they all freak out. McNeill stops the car. Don’t worry, it’s just Trocar.

diagram of an ancient Greek deus ex machina machine

He’s just popping in to heal Gillian, so she’s not injured and inconvenienced for the second half of the book. Because the other characters exist solely to smooth the way for the protagonist.

Trocar comes along with a couple of pages’ worth of awkward exposition about how loyal he is to Team Shit-for-Brains and how he caught up with Gillian in London when, last we knew, he was going to Finland. La la la la words words. Time, you are killing it.

ticking clock

I almost wish I had a print copy of this book so I could tell you how many pages are being wasted here. Jack is still after them, and we’ve halted everything to tell the reader about Trocar and have Trocar explain his extradimensional travel ability. This is stupifyingly boring and you should thank me for reading it so you don’t have to.

They finally (finally) leave for France, traveling by Channel Tunnel because it’s “probably the least obvious way for them to get into France.”

what, what?

They left in a car. Jack knew enough to have vampires in place to ambush them. But going through the only land route between the UK and France doesn’t seem obvious?

Oh Gillian.


Ah, okay, they’re going to drive all the way to Romania. From France. From the standpoint of someone whose country is about as big as Europe, I guess that’s not such a long way–it’s about the same distance from Minneapolis to Seattle, which I drove a few years ago. But it was hell on earth. By the way, there are seven adults in this European car: Gillian, Jenna, Pavel, Trocar, Helmut, Claire, and McNeill. Well, Gillian is tiny-dainty-petite-diminutive-little-delicate, so maybe it’s more like six and a half people. Regardless, that sounds like the worst road trip ever.

And so it is; Gryphon ostensibly tries to inject some humor into the situation by telling us how annoying everyone is. Jenna mentions she needs a “bio break.” Normally I would just say this is a characterizing detail telling us she’s a gamer, but given my general lack of confidence in and annoyance at Gryphon’s style, I’m just going to say this is Gryphon thinking she’s clever at using gamer-speak.

Trocar calls Aleksei, who wants to bring “the petite blonde” (notice how she’s never objectified like that unless it’s around the vampires?) back to Romania immediately, since she’s still injured. Amazing–can it be that Trocar the miracle maker actually didn’t just fix everything? Trocar, for some reason, says Gillian is fine where she is. …Okay. She’s injured and you’ve told us how useless she is at the moment, but…okay.

Jenna wanders off by herself to buy a magazine because she’s a complete fool, and predictably, she gets ambushed when a vampire sneaks up behind her.

Well, apparently Gillian’s penchant for going off by herself and getting into trouble rubbed off on her.

special kind of idiot

My god, the level of stupidity just keeps rising. For all your talk about being ambushed, you just chill at the gas station and grab a magazine? Yeah, remember how she and Gillian made fun of McNeill for not knowing how Speshul Forcez does things?

The vampire drinks her blood and vanishes. She has absolutely no reaction. Like, none. She just sets the magazine down and goes back to the car.

And then we’re told the “tall, darkly cloaked figure” wander over and sit down at one of the tables of a nearby cafe. Apparently nobody thinks it’s weird to see some dude dressed in a cloak and leather gloves chilling at a street cafe. They must be in France’s version of Seattle. He says, “Soon, cherie…we will discover whether or not you can truly help a monster like me.”


The waiter calls him “Monsieur Garnier.” Since Garnier is not the French analog for any of the vampires we’ve met so far, I’m led to believe Helmut’s statement that French vampires are Hollywood hype is bullshit.


End chapter.

This book had promise for at least five pages. I was okay with it. Alas, it went off the rails so quickly. I’m convinced Gryphon does not give two shits anymore. Is it that she can’t figure out what to do without Aleksei there to put his massive Sex Behemoth wang in her? Presumably, this book is supposed to show us Gillian at her finest, when she can operate without the vampires, but she’s just surrounded again by asslickers and people who smooth the way for her.

Not to mention, the writing got even stupider. Everyone writes a lot of shit that doesn’t end up in books. It could be that your scene has stalled and you’re writing through it. It could be that you were trying to do something with the scene and it just didn’t happen. But that shit is not supposed to end up in the bookI do not need a glimpse into the cesspit of your first draft brain, just like nobody needs a glimpse into mine.

This is part of what’s wrong with traditional publishing. You sign an author for a series and you abandon them to the mercy of maybe one editor who clearly does not give a shit. They don’t try to push the author to do better, they just shit out books that are hard little painful turds that make you regret eating popcorn. And then because they have a vague, neutral blurb from LKH and a mildly attractive cover, people buy them.

Bitter? Yep. But not just because this shit gets bought by thousands of people and mine does not. But because this shit gets bought by thousands of people. It’s hard as fuck to compete with when this is the standard of urban fantasy, and it’s what people consume.


louis ck shakes his head


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