Hunted (House of Night): Chapter 23
This entire chapter is Zoey’s dream, which I guess we’re supposed to assume the really, real Kalona is magically in for reals. It never explicitly confirms it’s not just a dream, of course. It’s just written like we’re supposed to assume it’s actually magic instead of… you know the drill…
“Here you are. This time you bring me to a place of your choosing, rather than me calling to you.” Kalona stepped into view beside the marble bench, as if he had materialized out of the air. […] “Your Goddess is quite unusual”
Oh geez, don’t get me started, Kalona.
Zoey insists that she didn’t call Kalona to her, and he insists she did. If you wanna stop reading now, go ahead. That’s like 90% of this chapter.
If you’ve been reading along so far, you’re aware that House of Night generally doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So you know that when I say that the dialogue in this chapter doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, even by House of Night standards. Now, you might still be holding out hope that the quotes in this post are going to make sense. “Hold on, Matthew,” you might be thinking. “It’s fairly established that Kalona’s pretty delusional. He thinks Zoey is the reincarnation of some reanimated clay or some shit. Isn’t nonsense just his thing?” And to that, I offer this counterpoint: why do you assume House of Night is going to get good?
“I can feel the danger in this place for you. It surprises me that she would allow you here, especially because she must know you would call me to you.” [sic, there’s actually an end quote in the middle of his dialogue] I imagine she believes she is warning you, readying you, but she is mistaking my intentions. I mean to resurrect the past, and to do so the present must die.” He paused, and with a contemptuous gesture waved away the riches on the shore across the water from us. “All of that means nothing to me.”
Thankfully, Zoey also narrates that she has no clue what he’s talking about. Which is good, because all of that meant nothing to the reader too but for different reasons.
Zoey observes how, once again, Kalona looks young and hot (and is wearing jeans that “were comfortably loose” and also have a “these-are-my-favorite-pair-because-they-fit-perfectly look”, so I have no fucking clue how these loose-fit but also perfect-fit jeans are supposed to look). She then realizes that every time she’s seen Nyx, Nyx also had an otherworldly beauty, and then Zoey gets sad realizing what Kalona once was and what he’s become.
“I’m sad because I don’t think you were always what you are now.”
Kalona went utterly still. […] “And what would you do if you knew that I have not always been as I am now, my A-ya? Would you save me or would you entomb me?”
I stared at his luminous amber eyes and tried to see through them into his soul. “I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I don’t think I could do either without some help from you.”
You know what’s a good thing? How the only thing that makes any sense to me in that last passage is the bit where Kalona laughs. Because none of this shit makes sense.
Seriously none of it. We can make a fucking mad-lib out of this nonsense:
“I’m sad because [brand new theme, apparently].”
Kalona went utterly still. “And what would you do if you knew that [thing that is unconfirmed but isn’t clear why it matters anyway]? Would you [undefined action and/or metaphor] or would you [other undefined action and/or metaphor]?”
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I don’t think I could do either without [thing that is ambiguously relevant to the either of the actions, which don’t make sense, or to the theme, which also doesn’t make sense].”
Why is Zoey (and the story) suddenly looking for something salvageable in Kalona? Again? Zoey has already cycled through “Kalona is evil”/”Wait, do we know Kalona is evil?”/”No, yeah, Kalona is definitely evil” earlier in this book. It didn’t make sense then either. So, sure, let’s go for round two.
But let’s pretend that this makes sense. Even if the foundation isn’t there, the protagonist wondering why the villain is evil is hardly a story’s biggest sin. So instead let’s look at: “Would you save me or would you entomb me?” Look, I kind of like that there’s a little moral ambiguity about the best way to fight the pure evil villain! You know what’d be better though? If the only person in the story asking this question WASN’T THE PURE EVIL VILLAIN.
Thankfully, Zoey tries to cut through the fog of nonsense that is post-Kalona House of Night.
“You have to know that I’m not really A-ya.”
His smile didn’t falter. “No, I do not know that.”
Well, she tried.
“You are simply she, reborn through a daughter of man. That is why you are different from the others.”
You know, since the official explanation so far for why Zoey is so special is just “because she is”, I kinda don’t hate this.
Once again, Zoey has to resist her attraction to Kalona. Even though we already did this less than a half-dozen chapters ago, sure, let’s do it again in a dream sequence.
The desire I felt for him was even more than the pull of Heath’s Imprinted blood. What would it be like to taste Kalona’s blood? […]
“You were made for me; you belong to me.”
His words slashed through the haze of my desire. I stood up and stepped around the end of the bench, putting the marble arm of it between us. “No. I do not belong to you. I don’t belong to anyone except myself and Nyx.”
“You always hearken back to that wretched Goddess!” The seductive intimacy evaporated from his voice, and he was once again the cold, amoral angel
Dear House of Night, I’m not sure why you’re so hung up on convincing us that Kalona is indeed really evil? I do not doubt this as much as you seem to think I do.
“When you most need [Nyx], she steps away from you and lets you make mistakes.”
“It’s called free will,” I said.
“And what is so wonderful about free will?”
OKAY, SURE, I GUESS THIS IS A THEME NOW. LET’S TALK ABOUT FREE WILL.
“why are you here to begin with? […] You fell, right? From, I don’t know, someplace that must be what many mortals would call heaven.” I paused again, waiting for some kind of response from him.
Kalona nodded slightly. “I did.”
He looked vaguely amused. “Yes, it was my choice that brought me here.”
“Well, why did you do it? What do you want?”
Another change came over his features. He blazed with a brilliance that could only be immortal. Kalona stood, threw his arms wide as his wings unfurled, spreading around him with a magnificence that made it hard for me to look at him and impossible for me to look away.
Oh, Christ, this is so boring.
Kalona kisses Zoey. Zoey gets lost in how wonderful it is (again), and then realizes she doesn’t want him (again).
An eternity of embracing him— possessing him— loving him— couldn’t possibly be enough.
An eternity of embracing him . . .
The thought speared through me. A-ya had been created to love him and embrace him for eternity.
Oh, Goddess! my mind cried, am I really A-ya?
Zoey puts her foot down (again).
“I am not her! I am Zoey Redbird, and if I love someone, it’s because he’s worth loving”
Zoey, I have bad news for you about Erik Night, Heath, Loren Blake, and Stark.
Zoey suddenly wakes up and it turns out Stark is in her room for some reason. This seems like a good time to point out that she’s imprinted with Heath again, yet not once has she felt how Heath is feeling about her fairly crazy day of kissing Kalona, Stark, and dream-Kalona.