I hate when a story repeats itself through character conversation. Much like how a word repeated to yourself begins to sound like nonsense, so do story details. There’s no fucking excuse for it either, it’s just padding for the sake of itself. The only time it’s permissible is if we learn something new.
PCK is quite probably the worst offender of this. I swear, every chapter has one character sitting down and repeating things we know to yet another character before they do anything. If they’re looking to avoid the problematic situation where characters who shouldn’t know things suddenly do, I’d be impressed. If only because they saw a problem and worked to avoid it. Though I’m pretty sure they’re just being lazy and padding it out because books need to be at least seventy thousand words or their audience can show everyone how good a reader they are.
So Aphro and Stevie are talking about how the contingent of slaves in Italy are going to have to go to Scotland. Aphro then tells Stevie to go commune with earth again and try finding out about some bulls of light and dark. Which makes this a sort of long distance Google search.
PCK tries to add some levity to the story by not having Stevie know what a bull is. No, really. Even Aphro can’t believe it and asks how she doesn’t know when she’s supposedly from the country. Stevie says that, just because she looks like a stereotypical hick, doesn’t mean she knows about cows. She says she doesn’t even like horses.
Have you ever been in possession of a brain, PCK? Maybe in harpy culture, bulls are known as those things the villagers sacrifice to please you so you stop carrying off their children. Because I cannot imagine someone born in the U.S. who doesn’t know what a bull is. Just the expression, bullshit would tell you something about them.
Aphro explains that something about their power will help Stark cross over to help Zoey and to go talk to flowers about it. Aphro then asks who Stevie imprinted with. Stevie says no one and Aphro guesses that it’s someone inappropriate. Stevie doesn’t say and Aphro tells her to be carefull.
Then Stevie runs into Kramisha who says Stevie looks good but doesn’t seem good. It’s incredibly more drawn out and slightly racist but what else can we expect from PCK anymore? Kramisha has a poem for her, which sucks like always, and basically says Stevie has to ally with someone, give him her heart and also give up the darkness. Kramishas starts asking questions about what it means and Stevie clams up.
“Look, I’m gonna keep this and think about it,” Stevie Rae said, stuffing the poem into her jeans pocket.
Good thing you clarified that, PCK. If you’d just said pocket, I might have thought she put it in her bra pocket or perhaps her boot pocket. Why there are so many pockets she could have used, if PCK didn’t tell us I would have had to quit the series then and there. I almost did when they didn’t specify which jeans pocket Stevie used but I’m willing to forgive their lack of detail just this once.
Stevie and Kramisha then talk about more shit we’ve already been over. Blah blah blah, Aphro has new powers, something strange is going on, Zoey’s soul is shattered blah blah. Stevie then sits in Zoey’s car and decides what to so, namely go do some vague “earth magic” and talk to Rephy. Then Dallas comes over to talk to her.
Dallas is holding a knife that Dragon gave him. He was told he might be good enough to use it one day. He starts babbling about how he’s sorry he’s not the warrior she needs. It’s painfully clear he’s feeling guilty about not helping Stevie when she was getting cooked. He asks to come along, she says no, he gets upset and says she’s pushing him away.
Stevie then caves and says he can come along and sends him off to get a candle and herbs. She amends her plans to do the magic with Dallas then drop him off before going to see Rephy. Then she wonders how Zoey dealt with it and, in what may be the biggest unintentional burn of the series, thinks that she didn’t and that it shattered her.
Still with Stevie, they’re out and about in a park for no apparent reason. Why did she have to go there to do earth magic, PCK? Oh, you don’t know either? Just as long as we’re all on the same page. Dallas decides to get close to Stevie and flirt with her and she responds. This will be important to remember when she starts whining about being in a love triangle.
Stevie talks about how good it feels and how maybe her “confusion” with Rephy comes from her avoiding her friends and Dallas. They find an oak that has a circle of its own broken branches surrounding it. He says it’s like a circle setup just for her and tells her to step in there and do her magic while he stays outside of it. I guess the magic in PCK’s universe is so delicate that a stray footprint can throw it off.
Before she starts, Dallas asks if there wasn’t something else to use before sweetgrass. Stevie doesn’t know and they figure it’ll be alright. Stevie then closes her eyes and focuses on her other senses. She focuses on earthy things like ripening tomatoes and dandelions.
Why do they only focus on the pleasant things that are tangentially related to earth? What about the harsher aspects of earth? What about the unforgiving stone of the mountains which silently bear the brunt of the elements? How about the burning magma at the heart of the planet? How about the dry sands which can be whipped into a fury in the desert? Why is it always about the smell of a meadow after a spring rain?
Stevie conjures all the elements and asks them for help getting Stark to save Zoey. Being as these are magical elements and not people, they don’t say anything. Stevie seems surprised, considering how chatty the elements have always been. What with the zero times they’ve ever said anything. Then Stevie asks the white bull to come into her circle. The more astute of us have already realized that she’s accidentally invited the vampire devil to pay her a visit.
The ground starts shaking and the herbs start burning so hot that Stevie drops them. There’s smoke everywhere and Dallas can’t see what’s going on. The white bull materializes and it’s pure white but ugly because it’s evil. Remember kids, that deformed guy riding the bus only looks like that because he’s a vessel for unadulterated evil.
The bull tells her she was powerful enough to summon him so he answered for his own amusement. He tells her Stark will find the answer in his blood. He will need to go to the island and fight himself to enter the arena. Stevie says she doesn’t understand and the bull says that’s not his problem.
White bull then says that, since he answered, it’s time for him to extract a blood price from her. He starts running around her and gashing her with his horns. Which is actually more silly than imagining a bull trying to suck her blood from her neck, which is where I thought this would go. Stevie starts screaming and then yells out to Rephy.