American readers: happy Fourth of July! Non-American readers: regular fourth of July! [Ariel says: American readers living abroad – what are you doing to celebrate? I feel very sad that there are no 4th of July BBQs going on here that I know of.] Let’s celebrate by wrapping up Betrayed, the second House of Night book, and the first book in this series to have something that could be described as a plot!
Based on the response we’ve been getting, it sounds like we’ve all been having a great time with House of Night – meaning, of course, that we all fucking hate it. The problem remains, however, that this series is so long that every time I make a joke about it, I have to Google how long it is (it’s twelve books long). We still don’t know exactly how many House of Night books we’re going to read, but we know that we have to at least read the third book, because apparently the Bad Books, Good Times community just really wants to hear about Zoey banging Loren Blake (you fucking monsters).
But we’re not reading that book next. We’re going to take a break from House of Night, lest our utter contempt for Zoey actually drive Ariel and myself insane, and next week we’ll be starting a totally new book. You gotta wait until next week for the announcement (suspense!), [Ariel says: Matt made me pinky swear I wouldn’t say anything about it, because he knows I’ve already finished the book in question and have lots of things to say.] but I’ll give you a hint now that it is 1) also a book geared towards adults of the young variety, and 2) it is not the one about the kids who are dying of cancer.
We pick up from our cliffhanger of Neferet shouting “You will remember nothing!” while doing vampyre magic to find that Zoey remembers nothing. All good so far. But we only have two chapters left and the Casts are determined to give a House of Night book a cohesive narrative for once.
I needed to wake up. I needed to remember. She needed me to remember. But who was she?
You may be familiar with the term, “deus ex machina”. It is when a problem in a story is solved by the sudden introduction of something out of nowhere that just happens to be able to solve the problem. The Latin translates to “god from the machine”, which is very literal in this case when a fucking god shows up to solve Zoey’s problem two pages after it happens.
I looked around the clearing and found the Goddess sitting on the other side of the stream […]
“You have done very well. I am pleased with you. […] I wish to remind you that the elements can restore as well as destroy.”
Zoey comes to and finds Detective Marx, and a medical team putting Heath in an ambulance. Marx tells Zoey that it was a good thing she found Heath when he did, because the multiple lacerations almost made him bleed to death. But wait! That’s not what happened!
“What happened here tonight, Zoey?” […]
“Something’s wrong,” I admitted. “My memory is all messed up.”
Marx drives Zoey back to the House and tries to walk her through the night to try to help her remember what happened. He explains that understands that Zoey and Heath have imprinted because his vampyre twin sister tells him about vampyre stuff. He does not explain why he suspects Zoey knows more about what happened that night in the first place, since presumably Neferet, you know, removed everyone’s memories.
“My sister […] warned me once that if I ever pissed off a High Priestess I would be in serious trouble because they had ways of erasing […] people and memories.” (So then why would you know this is what happened?) “So I guess the question is: what have you done to piss off a High Priestess?”
OH. OH. I KNOW.
Zoey suddenly remembers what Nyx told her about the elements being able to restore, and asks Marx to stop the truck. She goes outside the truck and casts (once more, with feeling!) a circle, immediately restoring her memory of the night’s events. [Ariel says: I love how you can just fucking cast a circle no matter where you are standing. Zoey should start running pop-up circles.] Wasn’t that one chapter where this was a problem just full of suspense?
Speaking of Zoey never telling anyone anything useful, that’s what Zoey does again, because she has more contempt for the plot than we do.
“You’re sure this is how it has to be?” Detective Marx asked […] “That some homeless kook is responsible for Heath and the other two boys?” He shook his head. “Feels wrong to me.”
Speaking of Zoey being a fucking knob about being so fucking special:
“Yep.” I nodded wearily. “It has to be like this.” I was so damn tired I [could have fallen] asleep right there in the cop’s ginormic monster truck.
What fucking police departments have monster trucks?
Marx tells Zoey that she’s pretty sure she’s keeping information from him (look, at least she didn’t blow you off to go to a party) and wants her to know she can trust him.
I believed him, but I also knew that there were some secrets I couldn’t share. Not with this really nice detective. Not with anyone.
“You don’t have to deal with whatever it is on your own. I can help you. You’re just a kid – just a teenager.” He sounded totally exasperatedly.
I met his eyes steadily. “No, I’m a fledgling who is leader of the Dark Daughters and a High Priestess in training. Believe me, that’s a lot more than just a teenager.”
See, Marx, if you had just stopped at “You don’t have to… on your own”, Zoey might not have gone all “BUT I AM ZOEY” on you, because Zoey’s reasons only make sense to Zoey.
I couldn’t betray Stevie Rae’s presence, which meant no one could know about the creatures, or at least not until Stevie Rae was safe.
Case in point. Why is this Zoey’s only viable course of action? I’m not following this leap in logic from “I must help Stevie Rae” to “AND I MUST DO SO ALONE”. This doesn’t make Zoey come across as brave… this makes her seem like that kid in a group project who insists on doing everything themselves despite what a shitty job they’ve been doing. [Ariel says: Maybe she’s scared of what people would do to Stevie Rae if they found out? I mean Heath was ready to murder her immediately, so I could see Zoey being hesitant.]
Zoey returns to the school for her obligatory hero’s welcome, except now Neferet and Zoey secretly openly hate each other. Marx explains to Zoey’s friends and Neferet that they didn’t catch the person responsible, but there’s enough evidence to suggest that someone was trying to make the killings look like they were done by vampyres. Zoey fires the first shot.
“Zoey has given us a good description of the man to go by. It’s just a matter of time before we catch him.” […]
“Yeah.” I met the High Priestess’s eyes. “I’ve told Detective Marx a lot. My memory’s really good.”
“I’m proud of you, Zoeybird!” Neferet came to me and put her arms around me, hugging me close. So close that only I heard her whisper into my ear, “If you speak against me I will make sure no human or fledgling or vampyre will believe you.”
Zoey counters Neferet’s threat by- oh Christ, it’s that fucking tattoo thing again.
“Neferet would you please look at my back?” […] I turned so that my back was facing them, and lifted the bottom of my sweatshirt
Thus turning this into a scene where Zoey shows how much more powerful she has become already a lot by showing off her new tramp stamp.
“Z! Your Mark has spread.” Erik laughed and tentatively touched the newly tattooed skin of my back.
The ending of every House of Night book: Zoey has to save Heath, then gets more tattoos. Detective Marx manages to make this scene even drier than it already is.
“Congratulations, Zoey. I imagine this means that you continue to be special to your Goddess”
This time Zoey gives Neferet a hug with a whispered message. See how things got mixed up there? Crazy!
“Humans and fledglings and vampyres don’t need to believe me about you because Nyx does. This is not over between us.”
Zoey leaves Neferet to go to Nyx’s temple to light a candle for Stevie Rae, because it’s important to Zoey that she and her friends remember their dead friend, but significantly less important that she let them know she’s not really dead and there’s a chance she can be saved.
Before we walked away I closed my eyes and whispered a prayer that was a promise I felt deep in my soul.
I’ll go back for you, Stevie Rae.
Sorry about your dead friend, guys! Zoey is special!