Before we begin, I’d like to point out a funny coincidence that I noticed the other day. There is a game for the Atari called “Yar’s Revenge”. The bad guys are aliens called “Yars” and they come from planet “Razak”, not too far from Ra’zac. Oh yes, and the aliens in “Yar’s Revenge” are giant insects. Not that you can tell on the screen but the comic that came with it shows them as such. I’m not saying Paolini stole them from an Atari game but it’s amusingly coincidental but not, as PCK would say, “ironic”.
We kick off the chapter with PCK trying to be clever. She’s either rewriting the rules on us or she’s trying to fake us out and show that Aphro is pretending to be a vampire.
Okay, I’d thought she’d turned back into a human, but even from where I was sitting I could see that Aphrodite’s Mark had returned. Her cold blue eyes swept the cafeteria as she gave the watching kids a stuck-up sneer before turning her attention back to Darius and letting her hand linger on the big warrior’s chest.
Why are you bothering, PCK? There’s really no point in keeping her around. PCK must have decided that she needed a designated slut to stick around. That way Zoey appears better in comparison. Aphro flirts with Darius and Zoey complains about how she wishes she could make loud gagging noises. Yes, because her flirting with him is far less repulsive than you flirting with Captain Dead Pedo, Zoey. They flirt for a moment and then Aphro decides to address the room after Darius steps away.
“And I’ll just bet it would be a pleasure to service you,” Aphrodite said in her nastiest voice as soon as he was out of earshot. Then she turned around to face the gawking, silent room. She lifted one perfectly waxed brow and gave everyone her patented Aphrodite sneer. “What? You look like you’ve never seen gorgeous before. Hell, I was only gone a couple of days. Your short-term memory should be better than that. Remember me? I’m the gorgeous bitch you all love to hate.” When no one said anything, she rolled her eyes. “Oh, whatever.” She twitched to the salad bar and began to fill her plate as the noise dam finally broke and all the kids made rude sounds and turned back to their food dismissively.
When you say “nasty”, PCK, I don’t think sexy. I’m picturing a half rat man with laryngitis who has a three pack a day habit trying to be seductive. I think the last person who said nasty and meant sexy was Janet Jackson, circa 1986. No one born after the invention of the cordless phone has ever said nasty and meant sexy. It makes Zoey sound like a fifty year old woman who picked it up, reading through boatloads of seventies porn books. It really does read like a time traveler from 1976 is trying to capitalize on the current supernatural romance fad. Any moment now, Zoey’s going to talk about using the school’s mimeograph because she can’t afford to used the newfangled Xerox machine.
Zoey says that, in spite of the attitude, Aphro is clearly nervous. Damien says he thought she became human and Zoey says that Nyx’s ways are mysterious. The “twins” say that Nyx’s ways sound like another m-word, “majorly messed up”. Which sounds dumb but cardboard doesn’t have the processing power of an actual brain, so I forgive them. I would have expected moronic, malicious or mad though.
Zoey’s servants insult Aphro and stare at her, then Aphro comes over and sits down with them. And in spite of the fact they’re in high school, they use insults that would be perfectly at home in elementary school. ‘Blargh! We are antagonistic towards you for no adequate reason!’ ‘Yeargh! I return the sentiment for the exact same reasons!’ ‘Hugarh! Me am Zoey and demand peace between everybody! Again!’ Their dull argument is cut off by a bunch of cats running into the cafeteria.
Then something that resembled a large yellow bear more closely than a dog burst into the cafeteria. The bear-dog was followed by a kid who was being followed by several uncharacteristically frazzled-looking professors, including our fencing master, Dragon Lankford, our equestrian instructor, Lenobia, as well as several of the Sons of Erebus Warriors.
What is it with hacks describing large canines as like bears? Bears aren’t just big, they’re roundish critters. Unless this dog is fat, it doesn’t look anything like a bear. Then again, I’ve actually seen wild bears. Plus Zoey’s fond of using lead based makeup products to give her skin that deathly pallor vampires value so much. And of course the cats all ran from it hissing and spitting because cats don’t get along with dogs…at least in the cartoons PCK did her research.
The new kid puts a leash on bear dog’s collar and it stops trying to run away. Dagon says that this is evidence that the dog just won’t work at the school, calling the kid James. The kid corrects him, saying his name is Stark, and that if they want him the dog comes with him.
I decided that the new dog kid had an unusual way about him. It wasn’t like he was being openly rude or disrespectful to Dragon, but he also wasn’t speaking to him with the respect, and sometimes outright fear, with which the vast majority of newly Marked fledglings spoke to vampyres. I checked out the front of his vintage Pink Floyd T-shirt. No class insignia there, so I didn’t have a clue what year he was and how long he’d been Marked.
Oh, a vintage Pink Floyd tshirt, how very original. Let me guess, Stark also has their entire discography on vinyl because it’s just better. Please tell me this classic rock snob isn’t a new love interest, PCK. If he is, I’ll personally arrange for his strangulation and subsequent dumping in a laundry hamper.
Stark is a transfer student from Chicago and says that the cats there got used to his dog and so will the ones there. Neferet shows up and asks about the commotion. Stark says that the dog is his and Neferet has to tell us that she received her brain damage in the same nail gun accident that caused Zoey’s.
“Really?” Neferet lifted one slim auburn brow. “Yet she looks oddly like a bear.”
I dare you to tell me what breed this dog is, PCK, I double dare you. Taking my dare, Stark says that she’s a Lab, as in Labrador. Labrador’s look nothing like bears unless viewed through the fog of cataracts. Stark says that she’s not the first to say that but that Duchess, the dog, has been with him since he was marked four years ago. Way to work that detail in there.
Neferet realizes this is Stark and Zoey says she swears that Neferet’s jaw clenches. She welcomes him and says that he’s to have access to archery equipment at any given time. Stark says that he’s done competing and that it doesn’t matter that he transferred. Neferet tells him that she doesn’t expect him to compete in the competitions between the schools but he shouldn’t waste his talent. Hint, hint! Zoey says this reminds her of Neferet’s “war on humans”.
Neferet comes over and tells Damien to show Stark around. She tells Zoey to use her gifts to ensure the dog fits in and Zoey says that her eyes tell a different story from her sweet voice, Pat the Bunny. Neferet then tells them that she’s called a special meeting that night and expects Zoey and the rest of them to be there.
“We will!” They trilled like ridiculous baby birds.
Yes, baby birds done up in Ultimate Warrior face paint have a rather distinctive trill that differs highly from regular baby birds. Zoey decides to try and anger Neferet by telling her that Aphro will be there too. Neferet says that Aphro isn’t a member of the DDs and Zoey says she’s back in because of her new powers.
The High Priestess smiled at the room in general, not looking at Aphrodite or me. “How very generous of our Zoey to accept Aphrodite back into the bosom of the Dark Daughters, especially as she’ll be held responsible for Aphrodite’s conduct. But then our Zoey seems to be comfortable with a great deal of responsibility.” She did look at me then, and the hatred in her gaze made my breath catch in my throat. “Do be careful that you don’t strangle under so much self-inflicted pressure, Zoey dear.” Then, as if she’d thrown a switch, her face was filled with sweetness and light again, and she beamed at the new kid. “Welcome to the House of Night, Stark.”
Is that supposed to be a threat? Don’t strangle under the pressure? I know Neferet’s supposed to be stupid and evil but at least PCK could let her quip properly. Like “don’t let the pressure crush you” or “don’t try to juggle too many swords”. Though maybe that’s as close to subtle as PCK can get.
a lab looks like a bear? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA….no. hell, pugs look more like bears than labs do.
… The school system has confused me. There are 3 levels of schooling, right?
You have Zoey and co. who are 3rd formers (16 year olds in their first year of being marked), then you have the 4th formers (who i am assuming are 17 and are in their second year), and then you had Erik, and maybe Aphrodite, who were… I’m really confused. I though there were only three levels, but are there four? 3rd to 6th? Did we get four insignia descriptions? I can only remember 3, plus the teachers.
Actually, the whole school system confuses me. Students just randomly getting tossed in during the year, and then leaving the day they complete the change and become full-on vamps. How does their education work out? Do they not have to complete their schooling, is there no gradutation? This doesn’t seem like a very good system…
Also, another question: Where do the cats come from? Does the HoN just have random cats lurking about? Perhaps they just popped up out of the ground, or grew on that tree by the East Wall. Or were these cats strays who turned up once they felt their baby-vamp arrive? Maybe they busted out of the pound? Or did they have human families that were ditched for a baby-vamp that might die… what happens to the cats when a fledgling dies, anyway? Do they get to hang around, or are they whisked away with all the other belongings? Passed off to some other baby-vamp?
Hi. I’ve been reading through your blog and loving your takes and critiques.
When you mentioned how Labradors don’t look like bears but a bunch of authors use that comparison anyway, I realized that, yeah, they don’t –not at all– and that I’d been taking the phrase to mean the dog is… big? Kinda taller and more built than it should be.
Anyways, for kicks I decided to Google “Labrador bear” and this was the closest I could get: