Hunted (House of Night) Chapter 20:
Stark is confirmed to be physically/sexually assaulting another fledgling by sucking her blood and beginning to “situate himself between her legs” until Darius intervenes. Zoey goes to help the girl in question and gives us a crucial piece of information:
I crouched down, realizing with a start of surprise that the girl was Becca Adams, a pretty blonde fourth former who had had a crush on Erik.
Fuck. This girl had a crush on Erik? Our Erik? Now I’m invested.
Zoey notices that there is a darkness around Stark. The explanation is so weird, I can’t even summarise it for you:
It wasn’t completely visible, but more of a shadow within a shadow that shifted in and out of my vision, something that was actually easier seen when I wasn’t looking for it.
And then it hit me. I knew where I’d noticed such strange liquid darkness before. It had been in the shadows of the tunnels, and then again in the glimpse of the spectral form of Neferet that had turned into the Raven Mocker who had almost killed me! With more sudden insight I recognized this darkness further. I was sure it had been present, pulsing like a living shadow around Stevie Rae before she’d Changed, only then my eyes and mind had just registered my best friend’s need and anguish and struggle, and I’d processed the darkness she’d been moving in only as internal. Goddess, I’d been a fool! Overwhelmed, I tried to make sense of this new knowledge as Darius confronted Stark.
So now that she’s come to this bizarre conclusion, she can suddenly see the darkness straight on rather than only being able to see it when she’s not actually looking. It’s great that she basically has this new power where she can literally see the Kalona/Neferet evil emanating off anyone connected to it. That certainly takes any of the guesswork out of figuring out who you can and can’t trust, which is too exhausting for us readers anyway.
Maybe next Zoey will see a pink light emanating off of any boy that shows up and is going to be a potential love interest for her.
Darius takes this opportunity to give Stark a speech about how male vampyres don’t abuse females. This is a great point, but it also feels the tiniest bit patronising. Stark easily could have been found in this situation with a male fledgling and it would have been equally wrong.
Zoey tries to connect with Stark by reminding him of Duchess (his dog), and for a brief second she sees sadness in his eyes.
Stark isn’t having any of it, though, and keeps saying how things are changing and they’re losers for not getting on board. He also reminds them that he can just shoot his stupid arrows wherever he wants and he can never miss, so they should be afraid. I still think this is just the silliest power. I mean, if Darius is in Australia and Stark is in America, we’re meant to believe this arrow is just gonna fly around until it finds its target.
‘You know, all I have to do is think about killing you and shoot this arrow. Wherever you are, you’re dead.’
‘If that is so, then I will be dead,’ Darius said matter-of-factly. ‘And you will be a monster.’
‘I don’t mind being a monster!’
It’s less that Stark has turned evil and more that he’s turned into a petulant child. I’m surprised his response wasn’t, “I know you are, but what am I?”
Zoey sends Darius on ahead of her to take Becca inside so she can have a private word with Stark. She knows this is the right thing to do because of her intuition and Kramisha’s poem. By my count, Zoey mentions her intuition four times during this scene. She is able to connect with Stark by insisting he’s still worth loving, talking about Duchess, and then, I shit you not, making out with him. BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE MAKES OUT WITH HIM.
I know what I did next was stupid. I’m not even sure why I did it. I mean, I already had unresolved issues with Erik and Heath. The last thing I needed was another boy complicating my life, but at that moment there was only Stark and me, and he was himself again
She sees a glimpse of the guy who she had felt such a connection with, a guy who made her believe in soul mates and that he might be hers. Stark has been in about 10 minutes worth of footage so far in the series, so even if I was fully invested in House of Night emotionally, I would find this scene to be quite a stretch.
Stark breaks off the kiss and “bolts” away, shouting that Zoey should have forgotten him. What an idiot. Zoey rightly questions herself for making out with a guy who had just been assaulting someone and who is definitely not his former self.