We Slowly Inch Forward Towards What is Bound to be a Major Plot Point: Untamed Chapter 21

House of Night, Untamed, Chapter 21:

Aphrodite is skeptical that she’s just written the poem from her vision in Zoey’s grandmother’s handwriting. Zoey rightfully points out that it’s dumb to be skeptical of this when loads of unbelievable things happen in their world. I mean, her example is Darius running really quickly and not the fact that Aphrodite regularly has visions, and Zoey can control all the elements, but whatever.

Zoey decides to go grab a letter from her grandmother to confirm she’s right. Then she decides to ask Aphrodite if the handwriting in question is her own. I’m not sure why this didn’t already happen.

I started to hurry from the room, but on second thought stopped long enough to hold the paper with the poem on it up to Aphrodite. “Is this your normal handwriting?”

She took the paper from me and blinked several times to clear her vision. I saw the shock pass over her face and knew what she’d say before she spoke. “Well, shit! This is soooo not my writing.”

Am I supposed to be getting chills? My house is cold, and I’m still not getting chills.

But wait until you guys hear about what’s on Grandma’s card! Seriously, you’re not going to believe this.

On the front of it was a picture of three grim-faced nuns (nuns!).

I told you! I told you you weren’t going to believe it. NUNS. Zoey was just with some nuns!

The caption under them said,THE GOOD NEWS IS THEY’RE PRAYING FOR YOU . Inside it continued,THE BAD NEWS IS THERE ARE ONLY THREE OF THEM . It still made me giggle a little as I hurried back to Aphrodite’s room, even as I wondered if Sister Mary Angela would think the card was funny or insulting. I’d bet on funny, and made a mental note to ask her about it sometime.

Zoey simply cannot wait to share this uproariously funny joke with her new nun pal. Grandma, you have perfect timing. I’m not really sure who she is making a mental note about asking, though. Is she going to ask Grandma about her brilliant card selection? Or ask Sister Mary Angela about whether the card is humorous or insulting in the opinion of nuns everywhere?

Zoey brings the card to Aphrodite, and they agree it’s Grandma’s handwriting and that they need to call her right away. Aphrodite again muses on how she thought she just wrote this poem five minutes ago, so none of it makes sense! YOU DID WRITE IT FIVE MINUTES AGO JUST IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HANDWRITING. Because Nyx!

Aphrodite describes a vision of a woman with a white quilt in a pasture. Aphrodite is worried the woman’s quilt will get stained but…

“It didn’t.” I spoke through lips that felt numb and cold again. “It was cotton, and it washed up easily.”

“So you know what I’m describing?”

“It’s Grandma’s quilt.”

I wish all shocking revelations centred around laundry. I’m thinking that someday I’ll include a scene like this in my best-selling novel:

“I was worried her white dress would get dirty and that it would be dry clean only.”

“But it wasn’t. It was machine washable.”

“So you know what I’m describing!”

“Based off your perfect description, it couldn’t be anything but my grandmother’s beloved dress.”

The woman in the field who Aphrodite and Zoey believe to be Grandma is holding the poem that Aphrodite copied down. Even though it’s 3 A.M., the girls call Grandma. Apparently she had a dream as well and has been awake praying ever since!

Grandma doesn’t say what the dream was about, but Zoey and Aphrodite start asking about the poem. Things are apparently pretty bad:

Grandma gasped and cried, “O Great Spirit protect us!”

“Grandma! What is it?”

“First the Tsi Sgili and then Kalona. This is bad, Zoey. This is very, very bad.”

I’m going to go ahead and trust Grandma on this one. Lady seems like she knows what she’s talking about.

But what the fuck, exactly, is going on?

“They are Cherokee demons. Dark spirits of the worst type.” Grandma hesitated, and I could hear her rustling around with something in the background. “Zoey, I’m going to light the smudge pot before we speak any more of these creatures. I’m using sage and lavender. I’ll be fanning the smoke with a dove’s feather while we talk. Zoeybird, I suggest you do the same.”

I felt an awful jolt of surprise. Smudging had been used for hundreds of years in Cherokee rituals—especially when cleansing, purifying, or protection was needed. Grandma smudged and cleansed herself regularly—I’d grown up believing it was just a way of honoring the Great Spirit and of keeping my own spirit clean. But never in my life had Grandma ever felt the need to smudge at the mention of anyone or anything.

“Zoey, you should do it now,” Grandma said sharply.

To smudge or not to smudge? Erik Night would be so impressed by my question. Find out what happens next tomorrow…



  1. Andreas Reply

    Well, while Zoey and grandma get their smudge pots and feathers and before this exciting yawn fe… ähem story continues, let me ask a question: how does religion work in this world? Vampyres are real and they have obvious supernatural powers reaching from banal applications like affinity to all elements and visions to such awesome things like running really quickly and being a cat-person. And it is also pretty obvious that these are gifts from a real life-action goddess because the lady pops up from time to time to cryptically dispense exposition. And contrary to many other urban fantasy stories the vampyres don’t have some masquerade or hiding agenda going on, because apparently in HoN-world the sentiment “there are million more humans than us, so we have to hide or they will kill us” doesn’t exist.

    If vampyres have existed in this world since thousands of years, why didn’t they become an factually divinely appointed upper class to humanity long ago (the story is halfway there anyway with the fact that almost all celebrities since some centuries have been vampyres) and why isn’t Nyxism the only religion left in the world? The vampyres don’t even have to actively kill followers of other religions, they just need to allow humans to join the worship of Nyx – if they are the only religion with an actual proof of something divine existing AND also the incredible chance that you, a randomly chosen normal human might become one of Nyx exalted super-awesome children … why haven’t all people started worshipping Nyx long ago? Why do christianity and the Cherokee religion and all the other even exist?
    I mean, they can still exist as some kind of philosophy or way of life (in this case Jesus would have been linked to the “be nice to each other”-lifestyle, similar to how Ghandi is linked to non-violent resistance) or as a version of supernatural-ish science like alchemy (i.e. of course smudging works, because magic is a part of this world), but not as actual religion. Why should they be central parts of ones belief system if the Great Spirit or God don’t exist?

    Of course, you could turn this around. The Cherokee religion exists and christianity exists – and now we just found out that Cherokee demons exist, so what else is also true? -, so one could conclude that at least their core tenets are true and the Great Spirit and God are real. But in this case the partly hateful (Zoeys stepfather, what an asshole) and partly condescending (nuns, lol!) look at christianity isn’t really doing the story a favour but just makes the book (even more) shallow and turns Nyxism and its followers into the same closeminded bigots they accuse Zoeys family of being.

    I’m not a deeply religious guy myself, but it really bugs me to no end when things as diverse and fascinating as religions are shoved in a story without regards if they fit, treated as a pure stage prop in worldbuilding and not as something that is intimately connected with culture and history, all of them influencing each other.

    • jmfausti Reply

      @Andreas, It seems to me that you have given much more thought to this than, it would appear the Casts have ever given to anything, ever.

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  3. gasolinespider Reply

    Oh boy, Cherokee demons too? My aren’t we getting spoiled on the racist front? Do these demons have names/basis in actual lore or are they just “ooh, spooky exotic demons”?
    As much as I bag on this, you know what would’ve made this just a teensy bit better. I dunno, having this happen LESS THAN HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK?
    I literally can’t remember anything plot-relevant that happened up to this point except: Zoey lost all her boyfriends (sorta), Aphrodite is human (kinda), Stevie Ray isn’t a zombie vampire ghost (maybe), and head honcho Priestess is in town to tell Zoey how special she is and to drag out this watery bubblegum of a plot out even further (definitely).


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