Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conflict, Chapter 16

The “Ripper Busters” head back to the castle. Apparently it’s “dangerously close to dawn.” This would be an interesting moment of urgency if it were actually followed through. Aleksei, Perrin, Daedalus, and Helmut (remember those two?)  come out to meet them and they seem upset, though Gillian doesn’t know why. Uh, presumably because everyone is dragging up to the castle covered in blood and injured? Just a thought.

Aleksei moves “with blurring speed” to scoop Gillian up and tut over her. Thankfully we don’t get an enumeration of his chastising. We get the roll call of all the characters staying in the castle who you’ve completely forgotten, including someone named Gunnolf Crosswind. I tend to write books with big casts, but I do my best to make each character distinct and, you know, use them. I have no fucking clue who these people are other than wink-wink-nudge-nudge references to pop culture. Yet another example of one of those “wouldn’t it be cool?” thoughts you get as an author in your first draft, which you usually end up trimming in subsequent drafts. I’m absolutely certain at this point that I’m reading Draft Zero of these books; they were published exactly how they fell out of the author’s head. See previous reference to a flock of pigeons shitting at the same time.
cartoon animation of a bird pooping cartoon animation of a bird pooping cartoon animation of a bird pooping cartoon animation of a bird pooping

In a passing reference to Luis and Oscar, the narrative makes it clear they’re actually lovers. I guess a background gay couple shoehorned in makes up for the homo- and transphobic bullshit.

Aleksei and Perrin are both mad at Gillian and Tanis for not letting them know they survived the fight with Jack, presumably via the brain phone. Anger out of fear might be a reasonable enough reaction if they weren’t mad at Gillian for literally everything she does, and if their anger wasn’t ripe with paternalism. Case in point:

Seeing her alive, seeing his brother walking strongly along, holding her petite bruised and battered body, had evoked a tapestry of emotions within his very soul. Deep dark impulses roared through him. She was his. He had the right and the glorious responsibility to protect her, shield her, cherish her . . . lock her up for her own good, if necessary. Civilized urges warred with those instincts. He respected her and her abilities. He wanted her to know that. That precluded any need he had about enforcing dominance. Gillian wanted a partner, a lover, not a keeper. He was going to have to deal with it, bottom line.

I don't believe you

Even if this were a book that didn’t have Gaslighting Gremlin and Rape Culture Vulture written all over it, the first 2/3 of this paragraph negates the last couple of sentences. IMO, you can’t have a character talk about locking his lover up for her own good and then just say, “nah, better not do that.” He evinces no self-awareness about why the fuck he feels like he even has the right to lock her up. This just tells me he has the right to, but he chooses not to. Fucking gross.

This doesn’t convince me, either.

His culture demanded that he take care of her— see her as a possession. His evolving relationship skills were allowing him to see her not only as a woman but as a partner. She was proud of the old fossil. He was trying.

show don't tell

Yeah. We’ll see.

Perrin will take care of Gillian during the day. He and Aleksei have come to a mutual understanding off-camera because god forbid we actually see some real connection between two characters. There’s about a page of description of what everyone is doing that’s about as interesting as watching paint dry.

look at all the fucks i give

Daedalus and Helmut dress Gillian down for…stuff. Stupid stuff. Helmut yells about how he and the IPPa can’t afford to lose Gillian blah blah. Gillian says, “We were rescuing Jenna, Helmut. There wasn’t time for a caucus on the situation.”

Ah yes, but there was time for 13 pages of chatting about Perrin’s abilities, etc. before rescuing her.

Gillian has to apologize again for not getting into contact after the Jack situation was resolved, because it’s not enough for her to apologize once for an understandable mistake. She has to be chewed out by every dick-swinger in the castle for it. So she apologizes and tries to explain herself. For an entire page. And, as if to make up for the relative lack of heart palpitation-inducing sexist bullshit in the last chapter, here comes plenty. Strap in.

Helmut and Daedalus swing back and forth between saying what an amazeballs soldier and psychologist she is and how everyone (and by everyone I mean men) wants to protect her because she’s a “lovely looking little thing.” The women in the room (Jenna, Tuuli, and Kimber) add some snark in return and Daedalus makes another reference to spanking. Helmut says he would pay to see that.

gross clint eastwood

I can’t figure out whether spanking for punishment is Gryphon’s fetish or whether it’s like…an anti-fetish. I have to think it’s one or the other, given the frequency and of spanking references. I have no problem with writing your fetishes (I do so with regularity and they are way more out there than spanking), but if it’s a fetish, it’s written in the dumbest way. Am I supposed to find it sexy or threatening?

Perrin bear-hugs her. She tells him to let her go. Fucking goddamn fuck.

“Never,” he said softly. “Now behave yourself and let me take care of you.” Without giving her a chance to protest, he pulled her farther onto his lap, then rose with her cradled in his arms.

“Put me down, goddammit, I can walk!” Gillian fairly snarled at him, embarrassed at being carried in front of everyone but a little grateful since her back was killing her.

“Now, baby, don’t you give that young man any trouble or I’ll have to fetch a switch, ya hear?” Daed’s smoky voice called to her. He’d just made the top of her “he needs killing” list.

“She will not,” Perrin assured him, not pausing in his stride, carrying her toward the staircase. “She is overtired and needs a hot bath and sleep. I will see to it that she gets some rest.”

woman flipping the camera off enthusiastically

She is now a fucking five-year-old, I guess! They are talking about her like she’s not even there, and like she definitely doesn’t have the ability to gauge her own needs. And of course she fucking takes it and makes excuses for Perrin’s reprehensible behavior in particular, telling herself that he’s doing well in his therapy.

Jim Carey gagging

National Domestic Abuse Hotline: Excuses Victims Make

Fuck. This. Shit.

So Perrin bathes her like she’s a fucking dog at the groomer and calls her lots of French endearments, then he puts her to bed. If he starts fucking her in her sleep like Tanis did, so help me I will throw this $2000 laptop against the wall simply as an outlet to my rage.

Thank god, he doesn’t. He just quotes Alfred Lord Tennyson at her and…lmao. A single tear.

single tear from Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball song

This video pretty well illustrates this book.

End chapter.

Takeaways

God. I haven’t had heartburn like this in a while. Okay, the protagonist is injured and her friends are concerned about her. I get that this chapter was supposed to illustrate her friendships, but all it did was reinforce the fact that she has really awful, abusive friends. I find this personally upsetting. When I was growing up, the family method of friendly teasing was actually mercilessly making fun of each other, brushing off hurt feelings or upset with a derisive scoff. I feel for Gillian here and wonder if she’s not trapped within these abusive relationships because this is all she knows. This disturbs me almost more than anything else in this book because it’s the origin of a lot of the other abuse inflicted upon her, like other people (by that I mean men) insisting they know what’s best for her, criticizing her every move, and controlling her physically.

I’m hoping at this point that the books will end with her having a revelation that she doesn’t have to put up with all this bullshit and skipping town to do her own thing. Ugh.

Just as an FYI, I’m going back to work on the 19th after my summer break. I’m going to be working ahead before that and will schedule posts to publish every other day.

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