House of Night Chapter 4:
Everyone is shocked by the revelation that Aphrodite and Stevie Rae have imprinted, and the twins express their feelings about as eloquently as you can expect:
“Well, spank me and call me your baby!” Shaunee said.
“Make that a double spanking, Twin,” Erin chimed in. And then the two of them burst into semi-hysterical giggles.
The Casts must have a blast writing for two witty, engaging characters like the twins. I mean, these two ladies have come up with their own twist on Southern exclamations of surprise at such an appropriate time. It must be a sheer delight.
Jack and Damien are fascinated, and Venus is nasty about it. Given they were supposed to be close friends before Venus became a red fledgling, it’s unclear why she’s is acting this way towards Aphrodite. I’m not sure it’s ever going to become clear, because there’s no signal to the reader that Zoey or anyone else finds this attitude strange.
Stevie Rae sticks up for Aphrodite, which pisses Aphrodite off since she thinks its because of the Imprinting. This almost dissolves into another bickering session between everyone, but Aphrodite gets a handle on the situation and commences the introductions:
Turning her back on them, Aphrodite faced me. ‘So, like I was saying before I was rudely interrupted times ten: pain-in-the-ass Venus, this is Zoey, the super-fledgling I’m sure you’ve heard so much about, and Darius, the Son of Erebus warrior who you will not be sneaking around with, and Jack. He won’t be sneaking around with you, either, but mostly because he’s gay as a French pastry. His other half is Damien, the guy who is staring at me like a fucking science project.
You already know that the Twins are the laughing heads over there.’
Again, I really wish we had more context about this Venus/Aphrodite animosity or some sort of hint that an explanation is forthcoming because this could potentially be an interesting bit of character backstory. Like did Erik cheat on Aphrodite with Venus? Did Venus previously try to sneak around with him? Is there a more interesting explanation than a cliche about tension over a boy?
Also ‘gay as a French pastry’? Really? This was such a stupid thing to include given how nonsensical AND offensive it is. A failure on all fronts.
Zoey, thinking only of herself as usual, wonders if she is wary of Venus because she’s “skulking around the tunnels with Erik” or because of her other misgivings about the red fledglings. It would be more of an interesting question if skulking around in the tunnels for two minutes with someone was actually a cause for alarm and if Zoey wasn’t in love with every guy she meets.
Venus points out that she and Zoey already met when the red fledglings kidnapped Heath and Zoey killed good old Elizabeth No Last Name. Zoey points out that this was self-defense because they weren’t letting her leave with Heath. Speaking of Heath, how long till he shows up again? Place your bets now.
Things are tense as Zoey defends her actions to her group and the red fledglings, but Stevie Rae has some inspirational words for all:
‘Okay, y’all have got to learn to get along. Are you remembering that the entire outside world might be against us, or at least filled with scary booger monsters?’ Stevie Rae sounded tired but herself. She sat up, gingerly straightening her Dixie Chicks T-shirt and slowly leaning back against the pillows Darius had propped behind her. ‘So, like Tim Gunn on Project Runway would say, let’s make it work.’
‘Ooooh, I love that show,’ Jack gushed.
Look, I love that show as much as Jack, but what the fuck, Stevie Rae? These characters may be cool, hip teens and I get that Stevie Rae is trying to diffuse the tension, but as Matthew has pointed out before, this feels tonally off. Especially when in the next line, Zoey is like, “OMG Stevie Rae once told me reality television could bring people together AND SHE WAS RIGHT BECAUSE THE RED FLEDGLINGS ARE MUMBLING IN AGREEMENT. Their mumbles are signs of a better tomorrow!” God forbid these groups form an uneasy alliance without mentioning “booger monsters”, a Dixie Chick’s T-shirt and Project Runway.
‘Making it work sounds good to me.’ Even though my internal alarm was still warning me that all was not sweetness and light with the red fledglings, I smiled at Stevie Rae, who dimpled back at me. Okay, she obviously believed we could figure out a way to get along. So maybe my alarm system was misfiring simply because Venus was a hateful bitch, and not because she and the rest of them were evil incarnate.
We have spent this whole series being repeatedly told that her gut is always right, but this will surely be the one time this reliable plot device fails us. All jokes aside, it tracks that Zoey would really really want to trust Stevie Rae to the point that she ignores all the red flags and her infallible gut feelings, but still, come on!
Erik shows up to announce that the weather is terrible outside and he can’t get a signal with the radio. Thanks for the update, buddy! Everyone explains the Imprinting situation, and then he has the nerve to say hi to Venus and she says hi back! Can you believe it? Would these two get a room and stop rubbing their chemistry in Zoey’s face?
Stevie Rae then introduces the other million red fledglings:
- There’s Elliot, who you may remember as a kid Zoey thought was really gross. The cool thing is she still thinks he’s gross and does not hesitate to describe how awful his “frizzy ball of carrot-colored, uncombed hair” is.
- Then there’s Montoya, who Zoey doesn’t hesitate to racially stereotype. “A short, Hispanic guy who looked serious thuggish with his sagging pants and his multiple piercings.” My god, what a terror! Kalona’s first order of business better be to build a wall immediately. But then Zoey receives the shock of her lifetime when he speaks with “a touch of an accent and a surprisingly cute, warm smile.”
- Then there’s Shannon Compton, but Stevie Rae says her name fast, so that means her name is written as Shannoncompton in the story. Why the fuck? Also Damien bonds with her because she starred in The Vagina Monologues before she died.
- Sophie, a tall brunette. Yup, that’s all we get about Sophie, so I guess she’ll probably be dead soon.
- Dallas, who might be Stevie Rae’s love interest. The craziest thing is that he’s actually from Houston, but he was conceived in Dallas. Everyone laughs about how gross parent sex is, and Zoey can feel the groups really coming together.
- Anthony, who is small, so people call him Ant.
- Johnny B who is “tall and build”. I don’t know why he has to go by Johnny B since there is no other Johnny around that I am aware of. He and the twins share flirty looks, so maybe one of the twins will kill the other over him and we will have one less of them to deal with.
- Gerarty, an artist who decorates the tunnels. She is attractive, but not so attractive as to be a threat to Zoey.
- Kramisha, who gets a very long introduction, so I guess she is probably important:
A black girl twitched out of the group. [Note: Do the Casts know what twitching is? This is not the first time they have used the word this way, and I find it very distracting.] It was a testament to how distracted I’d been with Venus and Aphrodite and Stevie Rae that I hadn’t noticed her before then. She had on a form-fitting bright yellow shirt cut low to show the top of her black lace bra and a pair of high-waisted, skintight cropped jeans that were cinched up with a wide leather belt that matched her chunky gold shoes. Her hair was cut geometrically into a short poof on her head, and half of it was dyed bright orange.
‘Let’s get it straight right now that I’m not sharin’ my bed with no one.’
Stevie Rae points out that no one has brought this up, but the matter of sharing the bed is put to rest, so now we can all sleep easy now. Sorry, I’m done now.
I’m also really glad that we know all about Kramisha’s hair and clothes since this is obviously the most character-building we can expect from House of Night.
Darius double-checks that we don’t have to meet any other fucking red fledglings and Stevie Rae dodges the question. WHAT IS SHE HIDING? Zoey is determined to find out later. But first she introduces her crew. The only thing I find noteworthy enough to mention is that she describes Jack as their “audiovisual guy”, which is the nicest way to admit that Jack adds no real value to the story.