Damien and Stevie Rae might have new love interests. [Matthew says: In compliance with Rule 17B-ii of young adult fiction that every single character must eventually get a love interest.] The gang prepares for the upcoming ritual. Zoey finds another creepy haiku from Loren, which she thinks is super romantic and not at all disturbing. [Matthew says: Incidentally, you guys wrote some hilarious haiku last week. Keep being awesome readers!]
Zoey needlessly worries about the upcoming ritual. This seems to be a ritual in and of itself that every time she’s about to lead a ritual (and let’s face is, those happen about twenty times per day at the House of Night) she worries about how it’s all going to play out. If we had ever seen a ritual go wrong for Zoey, or literally anything go wrong for Zoey, then maybe I could get behind her concern. But there is absolutely no tension here whatsoever to the point where I can’t figure out if there is less plot or tension right now.
Because Zoey knows how to really shift seamlessly from one interesting topic to the next, she talks more about the snow. Which means it’s time for More Fun Facts About Vampyres Which Make Science LOL!
Now I knew more about what I was becoming, so I understood that my protection against the cold was more about a heightened metabolism than about being undead. Vampyres aren’t dead. They’re just Changed. It was humans who liked to fuel the scary myth of the walking dead, which I was be ginning to find more than slightly annoying.
[Matthew says: Hey, wouldn’t you know it, I made a note to talk about this too, because I need to use my biology major for something every now and again. So here’s why this fake vampyre-science doesn’t make any sense. True, heightened metabolism would mean you have a higher temperature which would make you less vulnerable to the cold. As we learned last time I tore apart some fake science in one of these books, this doesn’t just happen, however; you need to have more energy to do this. If metabolism increases, that requires more energy, which means that you need to eat more food, which is not something we’ve seen any of the vampyres do in this book ever. If anything, we’ve seen Zoey going on rants against overeating during one of her rants on marijuana where she was all, “Why would you want to do something that just makes you want to eat more?”. Much like, say, being a vampyre…]
I know you were all expecting me to use the Breaking Bad gif of our beloved Jesse Pinkman, but not this time! Look how unpredictable BBGT has become!!!
At least less predictable than Betrayed, but those standards are admittedly very very low. The book is so predictable that Zoey goes back to discussing the upcoming ritual, and I swear I’ve typed that very same sentence at least forty million times while blogging about this series. FORTY MILLION, DON’T ARGUE WITH ME.
I needed to go by the school spells and rituals store and get some eucalyptus. From what I’d read in the old ritual book, eucalyptus was associated with healing, protection, and purification—three things I thought important to evoke during my first ritual as leader of the Dark Daughters. I supposed I could get the eucalyptus tomorrow, but I was going to need it knotted into a rope as part of the spell I planned to cast…
Yeah, okay, but why the fuck do they need to be tied into knots? And “they just need to be, okay???” is not a legit answer. Neither is, “becuz it symbolizes unity or something.”
The truth is, there probably is no explanation for the burning question of why the eucalyptus must be tied into fucking knots, because this is just a contrived reason to get Zoey to turn around and see a hooded figure “heading in the general direction of the rec hall, but was cutting across the far lawn” and who is “moving with inhuman speed, cloak billowing behind them wildly in the snow-filled wind so that the figure appeared to have wings. Red? Did I see scarlet flashes against glimpses of white skin?”
Zoey follows the mysterious figure for the same, and only, reason she ever does anything. She has a feeling that she should do it. [Matthew says: If only she also had a feeling that she should actually do something about these things too.] I seriously can’t decide which is worse: the eucalyptus excuse or the Zoey’s-gut-made-her-do it one.
It turns out the mysterious figure is going to meet Neferet, and Zoey spies on them. She can’t really make out what Neferet is saying, and all of the snippets Zoey does manage to hear are pretty meaningless. Basically something is too dangerous and someone needs to obey her (presumably the hooded figure.)
The guttural sound of the mystery man’s voice had my skin crawling. I peeked out from behind the tree in time to see Neferet raise her hand as if she was going to strike him. He cowered back against the wall, causing the hood to fall from his face, and my stomach clenched so hard I thought I might throw up.
It was Elliott. The dead kid whose “ghost” [Matthew says: But not a “spirit”, because those are different for some unexplained reason.] had attacked Nala and me last month.
Finally something in this book happens that 1) surprises me and 2) kind of interests me. I’m sure it won’t go anywhere, but a girl can hope. Also, does this mean the Neferet-is-evil story is going to happen sooner than we expected? I thought it wouldn’t be for another book or two. [Matthew says: Thank god the Casts are actually focusing on the Neferet-is-evil story in this book and postponing the Zoey-bangs-a-dude story to the next one. Yay priorities!]
“You may not have any more! The time is not right. You cannot understand such things, and you may not question me. Now leave here. If you disobey me again you will feel my wrath, and the wrath of a goddess is terrible to behold.”
I’m going to go ahead and guess he may not have any more football players to eat. There’s a chance I’m wrong, but I don’t care, I’m a rebel without a cause, just throwing predictions out when I damn well please. [Matthew says: Hey, I called the “Neferet is evil” twist not from any kind of foreshadowing or anything, but from a plot hole. We’re one for one so far!]
It was him; I knew it was. Even though his voice was rough I recognized it. Somehow Elliott had not died, and he had not Changed into an adult vampyre. He was something else. Something terrible.
There you have just witnessed the most well-written, not shitty sequence of sentences in this whole series. It actually captures that something creepy and ominous is going on without an aside from Zoey being like, “Something terrible – like when they get your order wrong at Starbucks or Nicole Kidman’s face.” (I don’t have anything against Nicole Kidman, I just vaguely remember Zoey making a weird, mean reference about her in the past.) Anyway, I know my standards are super super low for this book, but well done, Casts. I didn’t hate this part of the book.
Even as I thought how disgusting he was, Neferet’s expression softened. “I do not wish to be angry with my children. You know that you are my greatest joys.”
Oh dang, Neferet may be creepier when we thought.
I want her to turn out to be as creepy as possible. Then I will put an applauding gif non-sarcastically in a post. Then and only then.
On a separate note, I love how immediately Zoey goes back to judging Elliot as though it’s his fault he is a creepy unnatural being. So judgmental. [Matthew says: PRIORITIES, WOMAN.]
Next, Zoey watches as Neferet allows Elliot to drink from her, and she’s understandably grossed out by the situation.
When she held out her arm, offering it to Elliott, I pressed against the rough bark of the tree, forcing myself to stay still and hidden as he fell to his knees before her and, while he made feral grunts and moans, began to suck Neferet’s blood. I tore my eyes from him to look at Neferet. She’d thrown her head back and her lips were parted as if having the grotesque Elliott creature suck the blood from her arm was a sexual experience.
DANG, YO. It’s so gross and I love it. Keep going there, book, keep going there. So narsty and not boring as fuck. [Matthew says: Why did we have to read half a book of “This boy likes me, but this boy also likes me, and furthermore THIS boy likes me too!” before we got to this point where something concerning vampyres happens in this vampyre book?]
Zoey starts to realize that this is giving her a hankering for some blood too, so she flees the scene. Not to go get blood or anything, but because this whole thing is gross. How could she be hungry after witnessing that? If I saw someone eating a burrito bowl in a really similar context (don’t worry about the specifics) I would be like, “I never want a burrito bowl again. At least not for an hour.” So I don’t understand how this could make Zoey crave blood, but whatever floats your boat, gurl.