Now over to Stark who’s interviewing himself for narrative purposes. For the second time in the entire series, we’re getting a point of view from a male character. I didn’t think much about it when it was Heath got his moment because I was too focused on the immediate evisceration of the words before me but his was the first male perspective PCK had shown.
I suppose we’ll see if Stark acts exactly like an alpha male stereotype in his head as he does when Zoey’s watching. Stark is angry and it burns, not as much as the stupid PCK fires into the world. He also can’t think through his grief, so the author assures us. Then he hears Neferet talking about taking Kalona’s body with her to the other island.
It finally registered with Stark what the bitch was saying, and he rounded on her, only stopped short from launching himself at the evil hag by Darius’s ironlike grip on his arm.
I guess that answers that then. He starts yelling that they can’t let Neferet leave, that it’s her fault this happened and blah blah blah. Neferet says she’s not escaping, having agreed to being escorted by the vampire guards and that it’s perfectly legal to kill a human in service of the goddess. Wait, what? Going by Stark’s reaction, Neferet isn’t just making that up.
Stark ignored Neferet and concentrated on Duantia. “Don’t let her go. Don’t let her take him. He did more than kill a human guy, and they aren’t in the service of Nyx.”
Stop right there, PCK. The way they gloss over Neferet’s comments about killing humans in service to the goddess means that it’s quite likely true. The vampires don’t consider it wrong as long as it’s sanctioned by Nyx. Oh, but humans hate and fear vampires for no reason, so sayeth PCK. Excepting the mind control vampires exert over them and how they can justify murder being in the service of Nyx, I can’t imagine where the tension between the two comes from. I guess people are just a bunch of racist assholes.
Neferet says that allegations of her not serving Nyx are untrue and the product of a delusional teen. Stark gets mad again and lunges at her. Darius holds him back while Neferet holds out a hand which Stark swears he can see black soke begin to coalesce. Aphro then tells him to calm down, grabbing his head and telling him he’s not helping Zoey.
Another question, if I may, PCK? If Stark and Aphro can both see the black lines of darkness surrounding Neferet, why doesn’t anyone else on the vampire council? It was one of them who told Aphro that her powers could be used to see more than prophecy, so I have to presume she can. If being bonded like Stark is enough then what about Darius or the other, impartial, “warriors” that are on the island? Or are they all just too stupid to wonder what that evil cloud of funk is that follows Neferet around? ‘Huh, I guess she just doesn’t bathe enough.’
Stark calms down then Aphro mentions getting Zoey some protection. The council says that Stark is a warrior and his gifts are corporeal and not spiritual. He says to send him wherever Zoey is and he’ll protect her there then. They say that it can be done but no of them have ever come back in recorded history. Which means Zoey will get another first under her belt along with Stark.
Damien raises a hand and says that, as her warrior, Stark can choose where and how to protect Zoey. It’s a vampire law. They agree but saw that Stark really should reconsider, there are plenty of nice vampire girls who aren’t going to get him killed. They bend though and they take Zoey to her room so the slaves can discuss what to do.
Stark is mad, still, and wants to hit something. Then they realize that Kalona must be in the “otherworld” along with Zoey. I swear this has got to be the fourth time someone has realized that so far. Also, did you know Neferet’s behind this? I bet you’re starting to think I’m making all this shit up and not even bothering to crack open the cover.
“It gets worse,” Aphrodite said. “Neferet’s behind all of this.” She sighed and met Stark’s eyes. “Okay, this is gonna be not so nice for you to hear, but you need to listen up and deal with it. Kalona used to be Nyx’s Warrior.”
We get it, PCK, really we do. Ninety percent of this book is repeating what’s already known or happened. Speaking of redundancy, did you know Stark is going to have to go into the “otherworld” to save Zoey? This isn’t going to be easy to do, Thanotos says. She walks into the room, telling Stark that, in order to fight in the “otherworld”, the “warrior” in him must die and be replaced with the “shaman”. I see, so the vampires a class system similar to an older RPG. Maybe Zoey’s stepdad will transform from Overzealous Parent into Paladin when he hits level thirty five.
Thanatos says that “warriors” don’t get the same freedom to move around as priestesses and it’s going to be hard. Stark says Kalona can get around fine to which Thanatos says rules don’t apply the same to him, not being a vampire. Aphro mentions Kalona wrapped in chains of darkness. Thanatos sits down and tells her to tell her everything she saw.
It’s must be Starktoberfest in Zoey’s universe because we’re still with him. Aphro tells Thanatos everything from the first book to the moment, all wonderfully summarized in a single paragraph. It’s glorious in its brevity. A small monument to something so important that will stand as a constant reminder that PCK is willingly wasting the audience’s time. After, Thanatos says that it’s clear the battle between light and darkness has been going on for some time and in the physical realm.
The slaves seem to be puzzled by this, saying that it sounds like Thanatos is using light and darkness as proper nouns and how can they be fighting? It’s not light culture is littered with images of good and evil, light and dark in constant struggle. Thanatos says they’re two immortals so powerful they can make spirit manifest. She says that Nyx is on the side of light while Kalona is on the side of dark.
“Okay, I’m not Miss Perfect Schoolgirl, but I’m smart, and I actually did pay attention in class. Most of the time. I haven’t heard of any of this stuff,” Aphrodite said.
“Neither have I,” Damien said.
That’s because your author hadn’t made it up yet. I hate to break it to you kids but you live in a universe where the basic rules of physics may very well fail if it serves your author’s needs. Thanatos attempts a cover up for PCK’s incompetence, saying it’s an ancient belief that wasn’t ever fully embraced by their priests. Also, they’re always trying to consume each other and one can’t exist without the other. No, no PCK, that wasn’t a yawn. It was a look of shock at the raw originality you’ve displayed. Please continue.
Let’s see, they were depicted as bulls with the black being light and white being evil. The slaves start talking about the bulls representing masculine power. Thanatos says yes, so they were suppressed because the world would be in conflict with their vampire belief of feminine power. Again with the binary choices which convinces me PCK must be a robotic harpy.
The slaves worry that Zoey might get hurt if she gets caught between the two entities. Then Stark figures that they must go to a “barbaric” place where the rules of civilization hasn’t reached. Stark says the island where the first “warriors” were trained Sgiach. Oh and Sgiach, which sounds like a sneeze run through a kazoo, is a woman and is said to still be on the Isle of Women which is actually Skye as in Scotland. While you’re doing that, PCK, could you also make up the story that doesn’t suck?
So they have to take Zoey there for unclear reasons but there’s been tension between the council and Sgiach. She wanted on the council but they don’t allow “warriors” to sit with them. Damien argues that doesn’t make sense, she’s a woman and should be eligible. Because the only qualification you should need for important positions are the right kind of genitals.
The council then made the “warriors” stop training exclusively in Scotland which caused further rift between Sgiachy and the council. She retreated and cast a magic barrier to stop anyone from approaching her island. No one’s been allowed to go there since but Stark says he’ll find a way.
Flicker over to Zoey for a moment and we’re reminded that she’s incredibly dumb. She’s sleeping next to Heath on moss which is a pretty weak set of accommodations for vampire heaven. She looks at her skin and it looks like something is crawling underneath her skin like in a horror movie. I know it’s just like a horror movie because the author tells me so.
Heath tells her to calm down there’s some suggestion of black wings and evil and blah blah blah. Heath says they need to get farther inside the trees. Zoey asks how trees can help and Heath says it’s pure good in there and asks if she can’t feel her goddess in there. Zoey says no she can’t and starts crying. Heath assures her he can and walks her deeper into the woods.
Why is Heath in vampire heaven? Or is it because Nyx is the one true god?
Wasn’t there like a chapter for Kalona or Rephy before, not Heath?