La la la, more of Perrin’s backstory. If you’ve read, seen, or heard of The Phantom of the Opera, this is not unfamiliar. It’s one of those things I don’t give a crap about, but I pretty much know it already. This goes on for literally pages. At what point does this become straight-up plagiarism? I’m not sure. I don’t know how many physical pages this story takes, but I counted eight flips of my Kindle app’s pages before there was even a whisper of something original.
Perrin finds the book Laroux wrote about him and goes crazy for a while until he sees a TV show about therapists who help paranormal people. In a weird little coincidence, he sees Gillian’s picture on a magazine Jenna dropped while they were passing through France. tl;dr here they are.
Gillian cries over his story, and he’s impressed with her super-empathy.
End of chapter. Not even kidding.
That chapter took 4% of the book. Four percent! Of crap that is completely ripped off from someone else’s story.
This is the first sentence of this chapter:
Dalton, Lord of the Light Court, found Gillian sprawled in a chair in the library, swearing at her laptop as she meticulously entered data on a private session, an hour before.
…an hour before what? Does this chapter take place before the last one? Did she start her data entry an hour earlier? Did she start swearing an hour earlier? Have we reached another wrinkle in space-time?
Keeping in mind that Perrin is part fey, Gillian asks Dalton and Finian (formerly known as Purple Prince) what the “rules and standards” are for mixed-species children. Short answer is that the Light Court doesn’t like them, but the Dark Court hates them less. Gillian wants to know if they’re racists, which…seems pretty obvious to me.
Bullwinkle shows up with Pavel, and Dalton and Finian beat feet because they don’t like shapeshifters or something. Trocar assures Bullwinkle that he doesn’t mind that she’s a whatever-she-is because Grael don’t “stigmatize anyone’s heritage unless that being carries a portion of Grael blood.” So whatever you are, that’s fine, unless you’re not purebred one of us, in which case fuck you.
Trocar takes Pavel hunting for some reason, and Gillian sits down to have a therapy session with Bullwinkle, who was cursed to become a moose because of her vanity. Given that the moose can’t speak or write (because hooves), I’m not sure how this was communicated. Gillian keeps referring to Bullwinkle as “it” and “the creature” and “Moose,” rather than “she” and her name, which is Tuuli. Only I get to make fun of your stupid cultural associations, Gillian. Worst therapist ever.
Gillian figures out that Bullwinkle can hold something in her mouth and type on the computer, but she only knows a fey or an elf language, so Gillian scurries off to find someone who can translate. She wants to avoid Aleksei but spends an entire page thinking about him, and then he and Tanis catch up to her. There’s some stilted “hey how you doing” conversation and then all forward motion grinds to a halt as it’s explained, yet again, that Rachlav Central is housing Gillian’s patients, who are all making progress. As a side note, there’s apparently group therapy sessions too.
As we finally meander back to the actual conversation, Aleksei says he can help Bullwinkle because he’s telepathic. Bullwinkle agrees and please god let this go somewhere please please.
Aleksei also keeps referring to Bullwinkle as “the wretched creature” and “the pitiful creature,” because everyone thinking of Gillian’s client as something less than a person creates an excellent therapeutic environment. Oh, also she’s super ugly. Like, super super ugly. Gillian and Aleksei both remark on this. wtf?
True to form, Aleksei turns his pity for Bullwinkle’s loneliness into masturbatory self-pity because maybe now that he fucked up with Gillian he’s destined to be lonely for the rest of his days.
Aleksei says she was cursed by a Light fey, and “It will be lifted when she is loved by one lesser than herself and returns that love to its originator.” Like…she has to be loved by someone who’s even uglier? We don’t know, but boy, I can’t wait to find out. 😐 Bullwinkle apparently gets what they’re saying and wanders off “honking to herself.” I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but apparently she honks. Now, a moose sounds like a big cow to me, but this is what I picture:
Unintentionally hilarious but also uncomfortable. The narrative seems to be doing its best to make this character out to be completely ridiculous but also wants me, the reader, to take her seriously. I mean, you could argue that’s true of the entire book series, but that’s another thing.
After an awkward exchange with Aleksei, Gillian wanders off to see Perrin, who’s playing the piano in the most tragic manner possible. Given the sheer amount of attention lavished on this character, I’m guessing we’re headed straight for love triangle town. Admittedly, love triangles are sort of lost on me, 1) because I don’t like my romances to end in heartbreak for one party and 2) I’m poly, so my solution is, why not just do both?
We slither right into Perrin’s head. Of course he finds her ravishingly gorgeous and arousing. I’m getting some serious parallel vibes to the first scene from the first book with Aleksei, only with more tragic piano playing. He asks her if she wants him to play anything, and she starts asking him if he can play stupid pop culture shit like Three Dog Night and Shania Twain. It’s now been repeatedly established that he’s extremely reclusive. Why the hell would he have heard of Shania Twain?
Also, he keeps responding with oui and non rather than yes and no. This is such a lazy shorthand to show a character’s nationality. Like, he’s the Phantom of the fucking Opera, we know he’s French. Literally two of the first words you learn in a foreign language are yes and no. You don’t keep using those words in your first language. That’s just one of those little things I find really fucking annoying.
Oh, and now he wants her to sing, which she’s predictably terrible at. Another lazy shorthand. Is your character an insufferable Mary Sue? Give them a flaw that has zero bearing on the plot and zero consequences, that will make them three-dimensional! Like in Mass Effect, Shepard is somehow less of a Mary Sue because they can’t dance. At least Shepard is objectively badass and is (can be) likeable.
Perrin laughs at her terrible singing, and that’s “the first time in his entire life, Perrin, the former Ghost of the Opera House, laugh[s] out loud with another living being.” Aww, ain’t that cute.
And the chapter limps to a close.
What happens when you’ve run out of external plot, which was pretty fucking thin to begin with, and you’re contracted for two more books? You guessed it!
It’s probably worth noting that one of my pet peeves in books is manufactured conflict, which romance novels excel at. Maybe romance readers would have an easier time accepting this, but my eyes seem to be stuck in a perpetual motion machine and they haven’t stopped rolling since the book started.