Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conspiracy, Chapter 9

And we’re heading off into the wilds of Europe, and Gillian is on elven drugs because she didn’t want the morphine Jenna offered her. I can understand why she’d refuse if morphine makes her violently ill like it does me, but the book of course just says she refuses it. Apparently magic drugs are better. For whatever reason.

Claire gets a call from Scotland Yard, but she speaks French to them because apparently London’s police force is francophone. They want Claire, McNeill, and Team Shit-for-Brains to investigate some murders, since they just happen to be in town.



If you’ll recall, this gaggle of idiots left in an awful rush after going AMA from the hospital with Dr. Jack and Co. chasing after them. How does Scotland Yard know where they are, and maybe more importantly, why does Scotland Yard think, after being in the hospital, that this particular gaggle is in any shape to do investigating?

They’re injured and on the run, but work calls and they gotta get to it?

well why the fuck not

Trocar rightly points out that Gillian is fucked up. “The problem was, in his irritation, his voice came out silkier and sultrier than ever. Claire was suddenly staring into his eyes, completely mesmerized.” Apparently he’s “bespelled” her on accident with his elfly magnificence, which means she’s now in love with him.

i may vomit

Is it worth pointing out that a man “accidentally” causing a woman to fall in love with him by being irritated is kinda fucked up?

Yes. Yes it is.

Claire is, strange racial background aside, presumably supposed to be hip and interesting and competently badass. Of course, like every other female character who isn’t Gillian, she’s only allowed to be competent in short and occasional bursts, but that seems to be the intent, anyway. However, her competence is trumped by Trocar’s elfliness and sex appeal and she’s instantly in love? Why hasn’t this happened to Gillian or Jenna or Kimber? OR, YOU KNOW, THE GUYS? Does getting “Elfstruck” only apply when it’s heterosexual sexiness? Of course it does, because any non-hetero sex in PNR would be super icky.

I might find this less irritating if not for the generally fucked-up tone of these books regarding sex and gender, but let’s just say this is pretty par for the course.

PS, as soon as this happens, Claire is shoved to the background of the scene, and it becomes about McNeill’s discomfort with his elf heritage.

i just realized I don't care

I give zero fucks about this guy. In spite of being tossed into his head now and again, I really have no idea who he is, what motivates him, or why I should even want to get to know him better. I sure don’t know why the book is trying so hard to make a case for him.

McNeill gets them to shut up about his heritage after a couple of pages. As soon as everyone stops talking, Claire says, “I must have you, Trocar. I will die without your touch.”

a mustard container looks like it's vomiting

This shit is what passes for comedic relief in this book. The woman is “in love” against her will and nobody thinks this is the least bit creepy? I don’t know about you, but it reminds me uncomfortably of the rape scene in Mercy Thompson (big trigger warning; no actual quotes but some in-depth analysis of what happens) in which the rapist gives her a potion that makes her fall in love with him.

Maybe I need to stop here and hunt down a paper copy to throw against the wall so I don’t ruin my Kindle. I can smell a Claire-Trocar hookup coming a mile away.

Oh well, we know sex and sexual assault totally go hand-in-hand on this failboat world cruise anyway, don’t we?

Moving on.

We’re still in McNeill’s head for whatever reason. He’s driving and driving and driving.


He decides to pull over to use his “Global Positioning System” (who the fuck doesn’t know what GPS means these days?) and hears a “howl-bellow-roar” nearby. They have some inane conversation about what made the noise. It turns out to be a “Loup-Garou,” which is apparently not the same thing as a werewolf. It comes running after them, and Gillian is all excited because she figures out that the thing is actually a prehistoric relative of modern carnivores. Manbearpigasaur?



Claire is still out of her gourd, and she goes all squealing-scared about dying before she’s fucked Trocar. Fucking gross. The Manbearpigasaur is trying to attack the car (and failing, don’t ask me how), and Trocar puts Claire to sleep, because why not have something completely pointless going on to detract from the intended tension of the scene.

I just want to point out one thing here. It’s a small thing, but to me it’s pretty indicative of how utterly lame this book is. The narrative remarks about how fast the car is going (in kilometers specifically) and the Manbearpigasaur is keeping up. Gillian is looking at the speedometer, and she notes that it’s in kilometers, not miles (being a European car and all), but 60 kph is still pretty fast. Like, you JUST said how fast they were going in kilometers, and THEN had Gillian realize that the speedometer is in kilometers? This shows a complete inability to manage a fucking paragraph, which is really just a microcosm of the author’s complete inability to manage a book. It’s just one nonsensical, boring, ill-placed, ill-planned, unengaging piece of shit after another, like Hansel and Gretel, only instead of a house of candy, they come across a house made of half-rotted brussels sprouts, warm macaroni salad, tapioca pudding, and cold grits on a foundation of black licorice.

shit rainbow

PS, 60 kph is, according to Professor Google, just over 37 mph. Usain Bolt can run 27 mph. Greyhounds can run 43 and horses 55. 37 does not strike me as all that fast, for the Manbearpigasaur or the car.

The car, laden with all seven members of Team Shit-for-Brains, manages to outrun the moderately fast monster, and they run across “an old fortress of some kind” with 15-foot walls. And of course, they want to take shelter in it.

you are an unstoppable good idea machine

Yes, I’m sure this will turn out dandy, because an old, isolated fortress in BFE, France surely doesn’t reek of Stereotypical Vampire Dwelling.

Nobody answers when McNeill lays on the horn, so Trocar suggests they climb the 15-foot walls.

Now, I’ll let that sink in.

They intend to shelter in this fortress with high walls that are apparently not too high for humans and shifters to climb, but high enough that they expect them to deter the Manbearpigasaur.


don't make sense make dollars

Everyone gets over the wall, and Pavel shifts to his wolf form to confront the creature. I swear to Christ, if one of the only halfway decent characters in this series dies.

Okay, here’s another fun one. The creature rams Pavel’s chest at a dead run. The creature has been described as six feet at the shoulder and built like a brick shit house. Jenna noted earlier in the book that shifters aren’t much hardier than regular humans. I thought that was actually kind of a good idea. Except that Pavel should be incapacitated and very shortly dead from massive internal injuries of that were the case. Let me put this in perspective: I was at an aquarium the other day where they had a sea lion skeleton. Sea lions are big. This one had several broken ribs, and one of the volunteers explained to me that it had been rammed by an orca’s nose. (Yeah, there’s some badass critters in Puget Sound.) The term the necropsy used to describe the sea lion’s internal organs was “hamburgerized.”

But I’m sure Pavel’s fine.

Trocar jumps in to help Pavel Legolas-style, but they can’t subdue the Manbearpigasaur. McNeill thinks it’s a good idea to fire shots into the air to catch the attention of the inhabitants of the fortress, which has the unintended effect of drawing the Manbearpigasaur’s attention. It charges McNeill and seems about to flatten him when someone someone calls out “Charles!” It stops, of course, and Manbearpigasaur becomes Naked Man when some random woman comes running up to him. Apparently she’s Fey.

There’s a little discussion about how Manbearpigasaur is different from a shifter because his shifting ability is the result of a curse and not a virus. Meh, standard “different flavors of shifter” fare, though it reminds me of Jim Butcher an awful lot.

So Fey lady is Dahlia Chastel, and Charles is her husband. Dahlia brings Team Shit-for-brains inside. End chapter.

phoning it in

That’s how I feel about this book right now. Taken at face value, any one of this Heinz 57 series of plots could make an okay novella or something, if not a full-length novel. But Gryphon is now bouncing from one to the other with absolutely no connection between them other than the fact that they involve the same characters. When you were a kid, did you ever mix all the soda flavors in the fountain together? My older brother called it a Suicide, presumably because it tasted like death. That’s how this tastes. High fructose, heartburn-causing, tongue-coating death.


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