So here we are, over twenty chapters in and we’re fast approaching a finish. I say finish because PCK’s books do not reach a conclusion, they simply end. In spite of how far along we are it’s still only the second day of this book. How many days will this one take up, do you think? Three, maybe four? Whatever the time line, it won’t be nearly long enough for an interesting story.
We begin with Aphro asking if Zoey is certain that’s her grandma’s handwriting. Of course she is, Aphro. Zoey keeps a full dossier of all her slave’s handwriting just in case they decide to try and forge their way out of servitude. The last time someone did that, they spent five days in the box. Zoey says she’s positive.
“But that’s impossible. I wrote the damn thing just a few minutes ago.”
Ok, what does the time frame have to do with anything? Is she trying to say that if she’d written it an hour prior it could be grandma’s writing but because it’s too soon it can’t be? Zoey reminds us that Darius “practically transported” her there and that should be impossible. Then more stupid dialogue.
“Yes, dork, seeing as there is no such thing as Star Trek.”
“You recognized the transporter reference. You’re a dork, too,” I said smugly.
Ok, just a few things there, PCK. Matter transporters aren’t exclusive to the Star Trek universe. The concept was featured in “the Fly” back in the fifties. Secondly, recognizing anything from Star Trek does not make you a dork. Star Trek has been ground into pop culture to where anyone would recognize a couple of basic things like transporters, the Enterprise and phasers. Thirdly, we’re not buying you as a “geek”, PCK. Just stop trying and we’ll all get along much better.
I bet you thought I was kidding about the forensic files, didn’t you? After PCK has stopped trying too hard to show us her geek cred, Zoey says she’s sure it’s grandma’s handwriting. She says she has a letter in her room and she’ll go fetch it. Whoa, I can’t wait to find out that it really is her handwriting. I mean, I might have believed it just because Zoey said so and if Zoey says it’s raining puppies, reality bends itself to her. But there are undoubtedly some skeptics in the audience who won’t believe it otherwise. Aphro then examines the handwriting herself.
She took the paper from me and blinked several times to clear her vision. I saw the shock pass over her face and knew what she’d say before she spoke. “Well, shit! This is soooo not my writing.”
Good, PCK, good. Really drive home the point. Belabor it as long as humanly possible. It’s all part of her publisher’s “no audience member left behind” act. Zoey goes to her room, sees Nala then trips down the stairs and lands face first in a garbage can. She grabs grandma’s card and says it’s funny—it’s not, trust me—and goes back to Aphro. All things that don’t matter in the slightest and just pads the book. Aphro then compares the poem and the card.
“That is so damn weird!” Aphrodite said, shaking her head at the utter similarity of the handwriting. “I swear I wrote this poem not five minutes ago, but that’s definitely your grandma’s writing and not mine.” She looked up at me. Her face looked ultra-white in comparison to the awful blood color of her eyes. “You’d better call her.”
Really? Do ya think so, Aphro? Because I would have suggested Zoey’s next move was to call the local hotel and book a ballroom for the spring dance. You’ve got to move quick before all the good rooms are taken. But your idea is much better and more practical. And it’s in keeping with Zoey having no idea on her own. They must be spoon fed to Zoey by other characters or, when all else fails, god.
Zoey says that it might have to do with Neferet. Aphro says that might be so but her vision had nothing to do with it. PCK spends an elaborate paragraph having Aphro describe grandma sitting on a quilt in a meadow and holding the poem. Aphro didn’t see her face but she say grandma write it down so Aphro copied it. Then she came to, saw Darius and sent him for Zoey.
Wait, what? Darius was in the girls dorm? Just a chapter ago Darius dropped Zoey just outside the girls dorm and sent Zoey in on her own. I took that to mean that men were discouraged from going in. If that’s not the case, and Darius can hang out with the girls whenever he wants, then why didn’t he take her right to the door? Seems kind of dickish to just dump her off like that. Not that I can blame him. I’d need a shower after letting Zoey’s blood stained hands touch me.
Zoey whines about the time, saying that it’s three in the morning and grandma will be sound asleep. No, I just checked with the guys down in cryostorage and they say she’s defrosted and ready to make a phone call. Though she seems to have suffered a bit of freezer burn in her frontal cortex so she swears a bit more than usual. Zoey decides that her bad feeling is enough of a reason to disturb an old woman from her deserved rest.
“Grandma, I’m sorry to call you so late. I know you’re sleeping, and I hate waking you up,” I said.
“No, u-we-tsi-a-ge-ya, I was not asleep. I woke hours ago from a dream of you, and I have been awake and praying ever since.”
‘Of course I’m awake. I don’t mind being brought out of storage to help you advance the plot. That’s all I’m good for anymore.’ Zoey takes the opportunity to say that hearing Cherokee makes her feel loved and whines about her home life. Yeah, keep plucking that harp, PCK. Zoey had the worst childhood ever, save it for the wiki entry your fans made.
Grandma is immediately concerned for Zoey. She says that Aphro had a vision and grandma asks if she’s in danger again. Zoey is amused at how little concern she has for herself but how worried grandma sounds if Zoey’s in danger. Grandma doesn’t fear death because it would be a sweet release from this sad little drama. Zoey says it might have something to do with the poem so grandma has Zoey read it to her.
And PCK throws up a big middle finger to anyone who hasn’t suffered retrograde amnesia. Zoey reads every goddamned line out loud and we have to sit through the same terrible rhyme and meter as last time. Grandma corrects Zoey’s pronunciation of the names and then says it’s all bad.
“First the Tsi Sgili and then Kalona. This is bad, Zoey. This is very, very bad.”
Aphro asks if grandma knows the poem so Zoey puts her on speakerphone. PCK wastes are time with banter and then they get down to talking about these two Cherokee demons. Grandma then tells us what she’s doing at home because these demons are so scary.
“They are Cherokee demons. Dark spirits of the worst type.” Grandma hesitated, and I could hear her rustling around with something in the background. “Zoey, I’m going to light the smudge pot before we speak any more of these creatures. I’m using sage and lavender. I’ll be fanning the smoke with a dove’s feather while we talk. Zoeybird, I suggest you do the same.”
Wait, these demons are the worst type but their powers can be kept in check by burning a touch of incense and waving a feather? These don’t sound like the things of nightmares to me. Maybe they have the power to give colds to people which was devastating in a time before modern medicine and bed rest. ‘Behold! I am Kalona, lord of the sniffles! This is my partner, Tsi Sgili, master of the rheumy eye. Oh, and we brought along Chet who’s filling in as lord of the dropsy, if that’s alright.’
Grandma tells Zoey that she’d really better do this right now. Zoey says that she’s knows smudging has been used for hundreds of years, blah blah blah. Grandma smudges a lot but Zoey’s never heard of her doing it at the mere mention of someone or something. Well, aside from Voldemort because he too can be foiled by smoking herbs. The big cliffhanger is grandma shouting to do it ‘now!’ If only they’d appear before Zoey got started and ate her.
The sad thing is that by the time book 8 rolls around, canon Kalona is not as scary as Kalona, Lord of the Sniffles.