Hopefully you’re Team Erik!
House of Night (Hunted): Chapter 7
Stevie Rae, who has been falling asleep for the previous six chapters, finally announces that she’s going to sleep for real now and kicks out Zoey and Erik Night. Zoey’s cat Nala shows up “with a grumpy ‘mee-uf-ow'”, in case you were wondering if House of Night still has weird ideas about what cats sound like.
Zoey also interrupts the narration with a “SPECIAL NOTE” to explain why Jack is taking care of Stark’s dog, Duchess… when neither Jack or Duchess are even in the scene. If you think I’m exaggerating, I’m not; this is literally what happens:
Nala sneezed in Stevie Rae’s face and then made three rotations on the pillow beside her head, lay down, and started up her purr engine. Stevie Rae and I grinned at each other.
Okay— SPECIAL NOTE: Duchess, Jack’s yellow Lab, is an anomaly. Stark brought her with him when he transferred to our school from the Chicago House of Night. Then he died. Jack adopted her. Then he un-died, but was obviously not himself, ’cause the first thing he did was shoot an arrow through Stevie Rae. Hence the fact Duchess is still with Jack. Plus I think the kid’s really getting attached to her.
Anyway, when the group of us escaped from the House of Night, our cats, plus Duchess, followed us. So seeing Nala making herself comfortable added a comfy, homelike touch to Stevie Rae’s room for Stevie Rae and me.
“You and Erik go on. Get a shower or whatever,” Stevie Rae repeated sleepily as she cuddled with Nala.
SEE? It’s just THERE. Like instead of seamlessly working this information into the story when it might have been, you know, relevant, it’s just like “BREAKING NEWS. THERE IS A DOG. OK. BACK TO THE STORY.”
Zoey and Erik start walking through the tunnels, which Zoey notes are certainly less creepy than her last visit, but are still claustrophobic and unnerving. It actually does a decent job playing up all the shit that’s weighing on Zoey’s mind. I know! A genuine compliment about a thing House of Night is doing well! Not many of those.
My stomach tightened with fear. “I don’t know, I—” My words broke off as something exploded out of the darkness at me. I’d opened my mouth to shriek, imagining feral red fledglings or, worse, the horror of the Raven Mockers. But Erik’s arm went around me and he pulled me out of the way of half a dozen bats, who fluttered past.
“They’re as scared of you as you are of them,” he said
…ok, time to nitpick again. How are there still bats living down here if people have also been living here for months on end? I mean, I’m not a bat expert, but this seems at least a little bit weird? I kind of want to guess that maybe THE BATS ARE ACTUALLY RED FLEDGLINGS (since… you know… vampires… bats… it makes sense! This would actually be a cool, fun twist with a subtle little clue!), but I may have used up all my this-plot-hole-gave-away-a-plot-twist magic when I figured out Neferet was secretly evil back in book one.
Zoey and Erik discover a cool part of the tunnels that’s “as amazing as it was surprised”. Eventually the book even tells us what they are.
In a few more feet we came to a section of the tunnel that was as amazing as it was surprising. Erik and I stopped and stared.
“Wow, that is majorly cool,” I said.
“Yeah, wow,” Erik agreed with me. “This must be the work of that Gerarty girl. Didn’t Stevie Rae introduce her as being an artist who’s been decorating the tunnels?”
Chapter 7 was just a real rough one for the Casts in terms of talking about things when it’s relevant, I guess.
Erik uses this as the worst segue into talking about his feelings.
“It would be nice if the red fledglings could become known to the rest of the world. […] Anyway, I think vampyres and humans should have better relationships,” I added.
“Like you and your human boyfriend?” He asked the question quietly, with no hint of sarcasm.
I met his gaze steadily. “I’m not with Heath anymore.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” I said.
“Okay. Good.” That was all he said
They take a brief intermission from this conversation to peek into a random red fledgling’s bedroom while he’s sleeping (…why?) and for Erik to comment on how hot Jessica Alba is in the kid’s Sin City poster (…WHY?). Then they go back to talking about their feelings.
“I owe you a big thanks.”
“Me? For what?” I looked over at him.
He met my eyes. “For saving me from being left up there in the middle of that mess.”
“I didn’t save you from that. You came along with us of your own free will.” He shook his head.
“No, I’m pretty sure you saved me because without you I don’t think I would have had any free will.”
This prompts Zoey to reflect on how much she misses Erik and how much she hates that they broke up. She blurts out, “I really miss you!”
His smile widened. “Don’t you want to know how you saved me?”
“You saved me because, instead of being hypnotized by the power of Kalona, I was thinking about you.”
Erik talks about how amazing Zoey was when she – of all fucking things – cast a circle. You know, that thing she does three or four times every book. This is what has reawakened Erik’s burning desire for Zoey. The thing she has done this whole time.
“Even after all that’s happened between us, you can say that?” My eyes were filling with tears, and I had to blink fast to keep them from spilling over.
I watched as Erik took a deep breath. He looked like he was a diver getting ready to jump off a high, dangerous cliff. Then, in one rush, he said, “I love you, Z. All that’s happened between us hasn’t changed that, even when I wanted it to.” He cupped my face in his hands. “I couldn’t be fooled by Neferet or hypnotized by Kalona because I’m already a fool for you, hypnotized by what I feel for you. I still want to be with you, Zoey, if you’ll just say yes.”
“Yes,” I whispered without one instant of hesitation.
They start making out.
But then Erik reaches a hand up Zoey’s dress and she pauses.
And the worst thought of all hit me: Did Erik think because I’d had sex (once!) that now it was open season on nailing Zoey?
Ah, crap! I wasn’t going to do this. Not here. Not like this. Hell, I didn’t even know if I was ready to do it again at all. The one and only time I’d had sex had ended disastrously and had been the biggest mistake of my life. It had definitely not turned me into some kind of nympho ho!
So. House of Night has historically had hella issues with slut shaming. And with quirky teen speak. But this moment feels… pretty ok? Erik Night is a possessive piece of shit, and Erik and Zoey have never been great at communicating their feelings and desires. This totally makes sense to me as a disconnect in their relationship, and as something a young adult still navigating their sexuality would seize with terror over (and not really think about in the most refined terms).
So. Uh. Good job, House of Night????!!
Zoey asks Erik to stop multiple times, which he doesn’t. Good job still being fucking awful, Erik Night. It stops when they get interrupted by a bunch of characters who show up out of nowhere, as per House of Night tradition.
Kramisha stepped calmly out of the shadows. She gave Erik a long, considering look and said, “Boyyyy, you is workin’ it here in the tunnel? Damn! You got some game.” […]
“Aww! Are Erik and Z making out? That’s so sweet!” Seemingly from nowhere, Jack suddenly materialized behind Kramisha, Duchess woofing and wagging by his side.
You know what? The Casts aren’t great at writing characters of color (to put it… mildly), but Kramisha’s starting to grow on me. Although it could just be because she just showed up a couple chapters ago and she’s already as tired of Zoey and Erik’s shit as I am.
“Erik and I were just heading to the bathrooms.”
Kramisha gave us a long, slow look […] “Uh-huh. You looked like you was headin’ to the bathrooms.”
You know what? Fuck it. Let’s learn more about Kramisha. Whatcha got for us, potential new actually tolerable character?
I stared at the piles of stuff. “Huh. Who knew all this was here?” “Aphrodite,” Kramisha said as she filled our arms with terry cloth. “She paid for it. Or her mama’s gold card money did. You wouldn’t believe all the stuff you can order from Pottery Barn if you got unlimited credit. It’s made me decide once and for all on my future career.”
“Really? What do you want to do?” Jack asked. […]
“I’m gonna be an author.”
…let’s hear her out?
“I’m gonna be an author. One of those rich ones. With an unlimited gold card.”
Ok, well, that didn’t make more sense. She basically just said, “I learned that being rich is great. So I decided I’m going to be rich by becoming rich!” Hey, Ariel, I have an idea. Whenever people ask us how we make money off the blog, let’s just say we’re going to be rich bloggers. Apparently we can do that!
Kramisha takes the gang to her room, where Zoey is surprised to see that Kramisha is quite a voracious reader!
“I didn’t know the library let you check out this many books at the same time,” Jack said.
Kramisha fidgeted. “They don’t. Not technically. Not ’less you do a little this and a little that with they minds. I’ll give ’em back soon as I can get to Borders and buy my own,” she added.
I sighed and added “committing library theft” to the list in my head of things the red fledglings needed to be encouraged to stop doing, and as I made the mental addition I also chastised myself. Kramisha definitely looked guilty about ripping off library books. Would a kid who still had monstrous tendencies be worried about petty theft?
I do like these moments where Zoey catches herself unnecessarily judging others and starting to wonder if her priorities are off. Even though it makes my job a little harder.
They also learn that Kramisha is a poet!
“You like it?” Kramisha said.
“Yeah, it’s great. I really like poetry,” Jack said.
“They mine. I wrote ’em,” Kramisha said.
“Are you kidding? Man, I thought they were from a book or something. You’re really good,” Jack said.
“Thanks, I told you I’m gonna be an author. A famous, rich one with major gold card power.”
Did gold cards sponsor this book or something?
Kramisha explains that she always liked writing, but after she was Marked as a vampyre, she wrote more and more because poems “just come to me”. Which Zoey suddenly finds especially intriguing…
All of my attention had become focused on one short poem that was written in black on a bloodred poster. “You wrote that one, too?” I asked […] “In the past couple of days?” […]
Shadows in shadows
He watches through dreams
Wings black as Africa
Body strong as stone
The ravens call.
The chapter ends with this revelation that 1) the Casts don’t realize “wings black as Africa” is maybe not a line two white authors should rush to publication, and 2) KRAMISHA HAS A GIFT OF PROPHECY.
“That’s easy. It’s the last one I wrote— just yesterday. I was . . .” Her words ran out as she understood our reactions. “Shit! It’s ’bout him!”
How exciting! Kramisha’s going to play the same role in the story that Aphrodite already does! That’s some gold card-level excess right there!