At the beginning of this chapter, we have some explanation for the inappropriate flirting between Gillian and Aleksei:
She was grateful for Aleksei’s little bit of loving levity back there. It had helped get her head in order, calmed her anger, and made her realize how thankful she was that Aleksei was really, really trying to understand her and her many-faceted life.
He wasn’t happy with her at the moment, but he was letting it go until a more convenient time. That was growth for a chauvinistic, old-school Vampire. She was inexplicably proud of him. How proud, she’d think about later.
Oh, yes. Growth. Is that what that is? He’s only threatening to spank her rather than actually spanking her. Progress!
This is personal preference, but I dislike the use of the word “chauvinist” in these books rather than “sexist.” I don’t have any political reason for this; I just think “chauvinist” is a semantic sigh and eyeroll rather than a pointed accusation of someone’s dickish, oppressive, abusive behavior. I’d be interested to hear someone else’s opinion on this.
Here comes Kimber to call Gillian “Kemo Sabe” again because we haven’t had any racist shit in a while. In light of the current situation with the Standing Rock Water Protectors, I have to say this particularly burns.
Gillian remarks that they ought to quit smoking because they’re both huffing and puffing. The only time I can remember Gillian smoking was in the first couple of chapters of the first book, which enraged Tanis so much he spanked her. I’m honestly surprised (and ever so slightly impressed) the author even remembered this. Gillian is worn out by the “marathon orgy,” which is at least a little bit of realism.
Gillian turns on her inner Serial Killer Encyclopedia to explain that normally Jack is an opportunistic killer, but he went after Jenna to get at Gillian because she mouthed off to him blah blah. Tanis, quite rightly, wonders why Jack didn’t just swoop in while they were all fucking, and
the author Gillian just goes,
Oh, I guess she has an idea but needs to talk to Tanis, Perrin, and Finian first to make sure. Kimber asks her to explain her theory and it’s something about Perrin’s music creating a magical field of some sort, so Jack couldn’t get past it. That’s…kind of clever? I guess? It’s jammed in like a folded-up piece of paper you’d use to prop up a wobbly table leg, but I guess it works for the moment. Trocar translate for an elf named Aisling. I don’t have a clue where this elf came from.
Gillian asks the elves to put up a nullifying field blah blah HEY GUYS JENNA IS STILL WITH JACK AND MIGHT DIE AT ANY SECOND
Gillian’s plan to deal with Jack is to “walk [her] happy ass straight down his throat.”
Blah blah, self-sacrificing hero blah. Aisling asks them to describe Jack, and we’re reminded that no one can remember what he looks like because he’s aggressively nondescript. This is one of the cleverer ideas in these books, so a couple kudos here.
When Trocar finds out Gillian antagonized Jack the first time they met, he goes off on her. When Trocar serves as the incredulous reader’s mouthpiece, I have a deep appreciation for him. Gillian says,
“For crissakes, Trocar, you don’t really think that I would deliberately provoke a nut like that while I’m lying there trussed up like a chicken and stoned on Pixie venom, do you? I didn’t know who the hell he was until it was too late!”
….but that’s exactly what everyone is saying she did…like two paragraphs ago…I…what.
Upon further reflection, I think I get what she means; if she’d known he was Jack the Ripper, she wouldn’t have done it. Except antagonizing a maniac with a scalpel who has you tied up is still a stupid fucking thing to do. Like, where is the line her peabrain draws between “totally okay to act like an idiot” and “oh, better not risk it?”
Gillian shuffles the interminable conversation forward, presumably to deflect the fact that she was a fucking idiot to Jack. Trocar is still “supremely vexed” by this whole idea, which I absolutely cannot blame him for. At this point, he ought to relieve her of duty, to be honest. I mean, she ought to have been relieved of duty waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before this, but now would be another excellent opportunity.
Gillian says, “Kimmy, you’re going to have to lose the flamethrower and crossbow. We need weapons that aren’t readily visible. He’s not stupid— he knows we’ll be armed— but there’s no sense in advertising it.” Yeah, I’ll just point to this chapter where Gillian and “Kimmy” have eight weapons plus grenades with them while going to rescue Tanis like it’s NBD. Aisling decides to go along, presumably to be cannon fodder. She has a knife “secreted” in her boot. It took me a minute to realize the base word is “secret” rather than “secrete.” There have been more than enough secretions lately, thank you.
Trocar gives Gillian a garrote and explains how to use it, like a Marine Special Forces officer wouldn’t know how to use a fucking garrote. Trocar is “deadlier than the Ripper’s wildest imaginings” and can make himself invisible, which of course makes me wonder why he isn’t going along with Gillian. The problem with making peripheral characters total badasses is that when you don’t appropriately incapacitate them to force the protagonist to handle shit, not using them comes off as a cheap pulled punch. And these books are just a long, long series of pulled punches already.
We have an honest moment from Gillian:
Gillian actually prayed that Trocar or Tanis would find Jack first. She was no coward but she remembered distinctly how badly the sadistic Vampire had unnerved her. There was also no way in hell she could take him or any other Vampire in a hand-to-hand fight if it came to that. They were just too damn strong and fast for a Human to prevail in that situation.
I appreciate that the protagonist is having a fearful (and realistic) moment like this, and I also appreciate the statement that the mostly-normal protagonist would face serious challenges facing an OP villain. It’s one of those rare genuine moments in these books.
Kimber walks off singing Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch,” because why not. Aisling (still wondering who the hell she is) also wanders off singing something in Elvish, and Gillian starts yelling for Jack. She spends literally pages trying to taunt him. I was skimming, and then.
Why not double-down and be homo- and transphobic AT THE SAME TIME?
“Well, fuck you! Oh wait, you can’t! That’s it, isn’t it? That’s why you killed all those women in Whitechapel and those transvestite hookers in Soho!
“You couldn’t deliver to a woman, so you killed them. Then, when you finally understood that you’re a raving homosexual, you tried the boys but you couldn’t get it up for them either, could you, Jacky? They had to die so they wouldn’t spread it around that Jack the Ripper, Master Vampire, legendary serial killer, has got a broken dick!”
Jesus Christ, why is this villain the repository for homo- and transphobic shit? I actually wish I was angrier about this, but I am actually just sad and resigned because I fucking expected it would come up eventually.
So Jack shows up, and the chapter ends with a weird misplaced sentence:
“Jack, how good it is to see you again,” she said in her sultriest voice. “Now get the fuck down from there, you sick son of a bitch.” Into the night itself she yelled for Tanis and Trocar.
Is she calling Tanis and Trocar a sick son of a bitch, or what did she yell at them? Who knows.
Blah blah racism serial killer encyclopedia some decent ideas Gillian is an idiot bad word choice everyone is talking and nobody is saving Jenna blah.
Raging homosexual. I’ll show you some fucking homosexual rage.