Gillian stomps away from Aleksei to the library, where she runs into Luis the Puerto Rican vampire. Remember Luis? I didn’t either. He was a blip on the radar as a member of Gillian’s team, and he was a “plant” who was controlled by Dracula. The narrative does a half-decent job of reminding the reader who he is. Why he’s there, who knows, except to add another nickname to Gillian’s repertoire: “muñeca de bebé.” I wish I hadn’t Googled that phrase before I just pasted it into Google Translate, because I got this:
Luis brought along none other than Oscar Gray, who you might also barely remember from the first book as one of Dracula’s cronies. Uh, what? Ooookay. I’m going to go ahead and give the narrative the benefit of the doubt–I’m either an eternal optimist or an eternal idiot–and call this dramatic irony.
His voice is apparently “pure upper-class Brit.”
Gillian wants Luis and Oscar to sign a confidentiality agreement because the house has become, in Luis’s words, “a nut house for crazy Paramortals.” I almost forgot about this, and I still find it weird. Oscar exclaims, “I think this is a smashing idea, truly!” Apparently we’re going to be aggressively reminded of his Britishness with every other statement despite the fact that he is not supposed to be fucking British. He and Gillian have some stupid banter about what to call the place–sanctuary, haven, retreat, what the fuck ever–and Gillian quotes Galaxy Quest. It has never been more apparent that this is some word vomit in an attempt to stretch the “story” to fit Gryphon’s book deal.
Gillian toddles off to bed. Meanwhile, Aleksei and Tanis are exchanging blood to break Tanis’s connection to Dracula. Aleksei asks Trocar to watch over them. Why? The narrative goes out of its way to explain that Aleksei and Trocar doesn’t really like each other.
They’re going to do this ritual or whatever in the family crypt, which in my memory hasn’t been mentioned before. We’re in Trocar’s POV, and he mentions that the blood exchange is weird and incestuous. Well, it wasn’t weird and incestuous until you made it that way, dude.
Apparently vampire feeding is always accompanied by a glamour of some kind? It’s explained this way:
Without it, feeding could be torturous, even cruel. It was not a good feeling when someone with inch-long fangs nailed you in your carotid artery without glamour to shield you from what he was actually doing.
When it was employed, the prey or victim, depending on your perspective, experienced the equivalent of speedy foreplay with a shattering climax at the end.
Wow, okay, so the narrative is really going out of its way to portray this as sexual and incestuous.Now, I don’t really have a problem with consensual incest in books. I know that’s probably an Unpopular Opinion Puffin, but there you go. But, again, why? We’ve seen absolutely no mention of this glamour before now, so I have to conclude that this bit of worldbuilding was created specifically for this scene.
Predictably, the book insists that IN NO WAY is this sexual.
This is one of those moments when narrative clumsiness produces unintentionally LOL-worthy material. Had the bit of worldbuilding about feeding being sexual appeared WAY earlier, Trocar’s observations might make more sense, but this is like someone standing up on a bar, gesturing to their crotch, and screaming, “I’M WEARING NO PANTS, DON’T LOOK AT MY DICK!”
So, Aleksei is draining Tanis of blood. I did a quick Google to find out how much blood is in the average human body. Apparently it’s about 1.5 gallons (5.5 liters) for a 180-lb (81.6 kg) person. Assuming this is a bit more because the Rachlavs are behemoths, that’s a fuck-ton of blood to ingest. Apparently nobody can agree on how much the human stomach can hold, but that list estimates 4 liters on the high end. Having recently been gorging myself at buffets in Las Vegas, I can attest to the discomfort this causes. I know I’m asking way too much from these books to be realistic in any way, but I have to find my amusement somehow in all of this mind-numbing shit.
Tanis panics, like you do when you’re losing all the blood in your body, and Trocar steps in to calm him down with a spell. Aleksei says some ritual words and now he’s apparently about to pass out, so Trocar has to step in again. He struggles with Tanis, who wants to finish eating Aleksei real bad, and ultimately points a crossbow at him, “the one Vampire he could claim as a friend.” Wait, they’re friends? When did this happen?
This could be an interesting scene if, like every other goddamn scene in these books, it hadn’t had its eyeteeth cut out. If we’d established Trocar’s friendship with Tanis, there would be quite a bit of tension. The idea of a vampire blood exchange being dangerous enough to need a mediator is an intriguing one. It does beg the question of why the fuck Aleksei hasn’t brought this up to Gillian, however, given that he wants to form a blood bond with her. I can only hope this results in Gillian chewing Aleksei’s face off when they do it.
The chapter ends in a weird exchange I don’t really understand even after reading it several times. The gist seems to be that they’re not sure what effects the “conversion” will have on Tanis before it’s complete. None. I’m going to guess it’s none.
One of the many, many reasons these books are terrible is the complete lack of follow-through. There are so many dangling threads the story looks like that shirt you got at Hot Topic 20 years ago and have worn every day since until it’s literally falling off and you can see through it. Like a shirt from Hot Topic, it’s tried too hard to be cool and edgy and now it’s just a ratty piece of shit.
There are a few intriguing ideas sprinkled here and there. I wish I could give Gryphon more credit for cleverness, but those ideas are so rare it seems like they happen on accident. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.