Even when the writing improves, i.e. when it shifts away from Zoey, PCK never manages to get too good. As we rejoin Stevie talking to Rephy and they’re going over things we already know. Like how Kalona’s body appears to be empty, or that’s at least what Stevie heard from Dallas. Rephy asks who Dallas is and Stevie acts as if she’s been caught sending nude pics to him. ‘He’s just this guy I know.’
Oh, you say he’s just a friend, Stevie. Stevie says that Neferet turned him in, which isn’t really how it’s working out but alright. Rephy then says that Neferet seduced him and while Kalona is full of anger, Neferet is full of hatred. They say that hatred is the worse of the two in case we weren’t able to piece that together from the other hints.
Then Rephy and Stevie talk about Zoey and how she hit Kalona with spirit. Wow, isn’t that fascinating? Who could be bothered to have remembered that? And while an author attempting to make their work accessible to others might be forgiven for recapping events from the previous book, that only goes so far. Like if PCK had mentioned it in a quick sentence or paragraph instead of stilted conversation that passes for dialogue in this horrid universe.
Stevie then flat out admits she came to him to find out about Kalona. Rephy says he’s not sure how forthcoming hewants to be considering Stevie wants him dead. She offers him a compromise, saying she’ll ask him to leave them alone instead of trying to hurt him if he helps Zoey. Rephy doesn’t think that’ll work out but is willing to try for the time being.
They go over again how Kalona can’t be killed but his spirit can be damaged. Yeah, I’m still not one hundred percent sure on how that works, PCK. If his spirit or soul can be damaged, presumably it could be destroyed. Rephy says that something else must have happened after Kalona was attacked as he’d normally just start healing. Rephy then determines that it must have to do with Neferet being evil queen of the damned or whatever she’s calling herself. Which I was certain we’d already established prior but PCK’s editor probably had to be drunk to get through this so I don’t fault her that.
The speculate about why Neferet is doing this and, after much deliberation, decide that it’s so she doesn’t look evil. For being so wise and ancient, the vampire council is incredibly easy to fool. Also, they figure out Kalona must be hunting Zoey in the spirit realm to ensure she dies. Call me crazy but it seems like it would be a lot easier to kill Zoey’s body so her spirit has nothing to come back to. Rather than, say, create a ruse where you send an immortal off who’s in love with her and probably won’t be able to harm her and hope he kills her.
All of this is being related via stilted and dull conversation. It’s ok, PCK, you can just narrate at us and we’ll understand that they talked it out amongst themselves. Oh and now someone who can see the spirit realm would be able to see the “dark chains” around Neferet which proves she’s in league with darkness. Which means that, any second, the Angelus should show up and take care of her.
They finally get done talking and we’ve learned absolutely nothing that we didn’t know already. Thanks for wasting everyone’s time, PCK. Stevie helps set Rephy’s wing, again, and drives back to the school. On the way there, she whines about feelings and how Rephy is concerned about her and vice versa. She gets back to the school and reiterates the thing about Kalona being a husk to Dallas.
There’s some banter with Lenobia who was in panic mode because Stevie was gone. I guess a school in turmoil like that has no more pressing concerns that knowing where the secondary characters are. Stevie reiterate to Lenobia about communing with earth and ignores her.
Over to Aprho who doesn’t want to leave Zoey’s side. At least someone realizes she’s a bit vulnerable there. Neferet tells the council that they should keep an eye on the body of “erebus” because Zoey’s attack might have been only a knockout blow. Aphro is shocked that Neferet would say that because how could an omnipotent avatar do any harm to an immortal?
Darius claims that Zoey only hurt Kalona because he was threatening her consort. Not realizing they’ve played into her hand—her evil hand—Neferet asks what Heath was doing that make Kalona feel threatened. Oh ho ho! What a tangled web of intrigue you fail to weave, PCK. Yet no one asks how a supposedly immortal incarnation could feel threatened by a mortal who’s only power is football. So much for the wisdom of Nyx and her followers.
The council tells everyone to calm down as Darius and Stark fall for some of Neferet’s rage bait. This is all diffused by Aphro getting a phone call. PCK has to tell us what Aphro’s ringtone is and what brand of phone she has. And yet they won’t just give Zoey a favored brand of soda. It turns out it’s Stevie calling and she asks if Aphro can see spirits and things from the “otherworld”.
Aphro says yes, she just started to realize it today infact. How very convenient for the plot. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say PCK was just pulling things of their asses as the plot demanded. They babble about Neferet and how the council is fooled by her for a bit. Aprho then asks what Stevie wants her to do.
“You need to check out his body using your super Spidey Other-world senses.”
“You’re such a dork. There is no such thing as Spider-Man. He is a made-up comic-book-bullshit character,” Aphrodite said.
You know what’s funny? Fictional characters making fun of other fictional characters. ‘Bilbo isn’t real,’ said Yoda. Also, knowing anything about Spiderman does not make you a dork. What with the multiple movies and TV series that have permeated pop culture. After the faux “nerd” posturing, Stevie says she has to examine Kalona’s body for something strange.
Aphro asks if, for example, that would include black chains of darkness. Stevie says not to mess with her and Aphro assures her she’s serious. Stevie says that Neferet’s involved with “darkness” and that’s where her power is coming from. Stevie then talks about how Aya was used to trap him and how similar it is to the darkness holding him now.
“That does make sense. So now Neferet’s got him all tied up and soulless. Why? She’s his super nasty lover. Why wouldn’t she want him here with her? The two of them could have taken off togetherand not been caught for killing Heath.”
Ignoring the supposed similarities between what the ancient Cherokee did to Kalona and what Neferet is doing, look at that dialogue. Super nasty lover? I thought Aphro was supposed to be a teen still in high school? Unless it turns out she’s actually a reporter who’s pretending to be a high school student for work, this doesn’t really fit for me. Although if PCK is going to drop older slang they might as well have Aphro start talking about jive turkeys or how she’s got a smokey on her tail. ‘Yo, man. This Kalona is a jive turkey and his old lady is a phony, you dig?’ ‘Darius? I think Aphrodite has been mainlining heroin again!’
They continue to babble about things we’ve not only known but have had repeated at us about six times since this books started. I’m starting to see how PCK got it stretched out to twelve novels. They decide that Zoey needs someone to protect her in the spirit world. Somehow, this means Stark as a “warriror” and the lady he’s bonded to means they have a spiritual connection which will allow this to work. Don’t worry about the details, I’m sure the authors didn’t.
Stevie cautions Aphro by reminding her of the story about the priest with the shattered soul from their handbook. Speaking of bullshit, am I going to have to spork the vampire handbook PCK wrote? Only if I want to catch even more inconsistencies. So, yes. They also say that this might be the only way for Stark to save himself. He’s very “ messed up” after Zoey’s collapse and this will help him.
Stevie also tells Aphro not to let Neferet know she’s on to her. That will be easy unless Neferet remembers that Aphro is clairvoyant. Luckily, Neferet was only Aphro’s priest for a couple of years so I’m sure she’s already forgotten all about it.