In case you had somehow forgotten, Zoey is going to meet her grandmother at Starbucks to celebrate her birthday. T’was also the night before Christmas, so Zoey is sick and tired of getting Christmas themed birthday gifts from the hoards of people that apparently have never given a gift before.
House of Night, Chosen Chapter 3:
The Starbucks at Utica Square, the cool outdoors shopping center that was right down the street from the House of Night, was a lot busier than I’d thought it would be. I mean, sure, it was an unusually warm winter night, but it was also December 24, and almost nine o’clock. You’d think people would be home getting ready for visions of sugarplums and whatnot, and not out looking for a caffeine buzz.
No, I told myself sternly, I am not going to be in a bad mood for Grandma. I hardly ever get to see her, and I’m not going to spoil the little time we have together. Plus, Grandma was totally hip to the fact that birthmas presents were lame. She always got me something as unique and wonderful as she is.
I’m glad that Grandma Redbird manages to stay up-to-date with all the latest teen trends like not buying people birthday gifts with a Christmas theme. It really helps keep her young, I think. [Matthew says: Also, good call on Starbucks for scooping up that vampyre boarding school market. They’re probably making baaaaank.]
We can’t go too long without being reassured that Zoey is the best at everything, even ageing:
She squeezed me one more time and then held me back at arm’s length. “Let me look at you. Yes, I can tell that you’re seventeen. You look so much more mature, and I think a little taller than you did when you were merely sixteen.”
I grinned. “Oh, Grandma, you know I don’t look any different.”
“Of course you do. Years always add beauty and strength to a certain type of woman—and you’re that type.”
[Matthew says: None of this makes sense. She’s seventeen, so she looks more mature than she did when she was sixteen, and also because she’s the time of woman that will age beautifully, which you can tell now that she’s seventeen? Is this the book where we find out Zoey’s grandma is going senile?]
In case that wasn’t enough, the narrative behaves like that douchebag who has to shove his way to the front of a packed club and doesn’t care if he has to elbow you in the head to get there in order to remind us that Zoey has sick tattoos and AN AFFINITY FOR ALL THE FUCKING ELEMENTS:
“I do wish you didn’t have to cover your lovely tattoos to meet me here.” Grandma’s fingers rested briefly on my cheek where I’d hastily patted the thick concealing makeup fledglings were required to wear when they left the House of Night campus. Yes, humans knew vampyres existed—adult vamps didn’t conceal themselves. But the rules for fledglings were different. I guess it made sense—teenagers didn’t always handle conflict well—and the human world did tend to conflict with vampyres. […]
“Oh, Zoeybird, it’s just so magical,” Grandma said softly. “I’m so proud that the goddess has Chosen you as special and Marked you so uniquely.”
She hugged me again, and I clung to her, incredibly glad that I had her in my life. She accepted me for me. It didn’t matter to her that I was turning into a vampyre. It didn’t matter to her that I was already experiencing bloodlust and that I had the power to manifest all five of the elements: air, fire, water, earth, and spirit.
I could see how Zoey would be relieved her grandmother wasn’t bothered by the bloodlust, but her relief over her grandmother having no issue with her affinity for the elements reeks of humblebragging. I’m so lucky my grandmother doesn’t think I’m a total freak for being the star of my school and having loads of boyfriends and being chosen by the goddess and being able to control all the elements :(((!
Zoey is just thinking how much better her grandmother is than her mother, when lo and behold her mom shows up! Man, Zoey’s birthday just keeps getting shittier. Her mom has brought her cake and Zoey hates cake! [Matthew says: Well if she doesn’t like cake, at least now we know that the one thing Zoey doesn’t have an affinity for is Dauntless.]
“Come on, let’s all sit down. Zoey, you can go into Starbucks and get us something to drink in a minute. It’s a good thing your grandma invited me. As usual, no one else thought to bring a cake.”
We sat down and Mom wrestled with the tape on the bakery box. While she was busy, Grandma and I shared a look of complete understanding. I knew she hadn’t invited Mom, and she knew I absolutely hated birthday cake. Especially the cheap, overly sweet cake my mom always ordered from the bakery.With the kind of horrible fascination usually reserved for gawking at car wrecks I watched Mom open the bakery box and reveal a small square one-layer white cake. The generic Happy Birthday was written in red, which matched the red poinsettias blobbed at each corner. Green icing trimmed the whole thing.
That cake does sound terrible, but at least it’s not a Jesus-suffering-on-the-Cross themed cake like her birthday card. Reserve your horrible fascination!
Zoey’s mom starts talking shit about how Zoey doesn’t even celebrate Christmas anymore, so Grandma and Zoey put her in her place by telling her how Yuletide/Winter Solstice is where it’s at, and Mom can suck a dick.
Grandma gives Zoey her gifts (a lavender plant that reminds Zoey of happy childhood days gone by, and a first edition, signed copy of Dracula [Matthew says: Which she found in a used book store that was going out of business, and, uh, I can think of one way that used bookstore could have maybe not gone out of business quite so quickly].) In case you were like WAIT. Is there some sort of connection between the fact that Zoey is a vampyre and Dracula has a vampyre/vampire in it, Zoey’s grandmother will clearly explain:
“Well, I know how much you love that spooky old story, and in light of recent events I thought it would be ironically funny for you to have a signed edition,” Grandma said.
This winds up turning into a conversation about imprinting, which Zoey’s mother expresses disgust over – humans and vampires in love? The horror!
“Did you know Bram Stoker was Imprinted by a vampyre, and that’s why he wrote the book?” I gushed as I oh-so-carefully turned the thick pages, checking out the old illustrations, which were, indeed, spooky.
“I had no idea Stoker had a relationship with a vampyre,” Grandma said.
“I wouldn’t call being bitten by a vampyre and then put under his spell a relationship,” my mother said.
Grandma and I looked at her. I sighed. “Mom, it’s way possible for a human and a vampyre to have a relationship. That’s what Imprinting is about.” Well, it was also about bloodlust and some serious desire, along with a psychic link that could be pretty disconcerting, all of which I knew from my experience with Heath. But I wasn’t going to mention that to Mom.
My mother shivered like something nasty had just run its finger up her spine. “It sounds disgusting to me.”
At first, I was thinking, ‘Ug, Zoey’s mom sure is not hip to the fact that vamps and humans can totes be a way beautiful thing.’ But then my brain unfortunately found footage of Heath’s boners being telepathically communicated. so I’m with Zoey’s mom on this one.
Zoey demands her mother tell her if she’d rather see her become an adult vampyre or die in the next four years. I get that mom hates vampyres, but I really think in this one instance she was just saying imprinting is gross (I have no evidence so far that what Zoey/Heath have ISN’T gross.)
There are a few reasonable moments where Zoey and Grandma explain that Zoey’s mom hurts her feelings a lot, and her mother apologizes and says they should start over, and Zoey should open her present.
My smile held until I recognized the white leather cover and gold-tipped pages. With my heart sinking down into my stomach, I turned the book over to read: The Holy Word, People of Faith Edition printed in expensive gold leaf cursive across the cover. Another glittering of excess gold caught my eye. Across the bottom of the cover it read, The Heffer Family. There was a red velvet bookmark with a gold tassel stuck inside the front pages of the book and, trying to buy time so I could think of something to say other than “this is a truly awful present,” I let the pages fall open there. Then I blinked, hoping what I was reading was just a trick of my eyes. No. It was really there. The book had opened to the family-tree page. In the weird back-slanted left-handed writing that I easily recognized as belonging to the step-loser, my mom’s name LINDA HEFFER had been penned in. A line had been drawn attaching it to JOHN HEFFER, with the date of their marriage off to the side. Underneath their names, written in as if we had been born to them, were the names of my brother, my sister, and me.