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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 15 The Tower or, “The first time the card in the chapter title was actually applicable to what happens in the plot” (Part One)

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I’m cutting this chapter into installments, as the recaps will be long. Because there is…a lot.

When we last met, Lani Sarem had just clearly purchased five-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads in some kind of weird bid to…I don’t know. I have no idea what she felt a hundred or so five-star reviews were going to do for her clumsy scam six months after the fact, but she did it.

At least one of those five-star reviews was real, though, and author Heidi Heilig (The Girl From Everywhere, The Ship Beyond Time) happened to notice something…interesting about two books that were reviewed by the same account:

A screenshot of two Amazon reviews. The first is for Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give, with one star and "depressing" as the full review. The second is for Handbook For Mortals, fives stars, with a bunch of glowing text I'll cover in its entirety below. Both are from Lisa Hendricks.

Since you can’t read the entire glowing review from the screencap, this is what Hendricks has to say about Handbook For Mortals:

I loved this book! It’s such a fun read. The characters are well written and the story is unique. I don’t want to give anything away but I love how the magician is tied to story. She’s a strong female protagonist and I love that about it but it’s just a cool story. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book and I’m also stoked for the movie. The chapters being based off of tarot cards is also fun and if you are into tarot and magick this is your kind of book. It’s cool that it’s set in modern day. I like fantasies but get overloaded with complicated lands and names and I really don’t like dystopian. I know there was also this hubub about if it is or isn’t YA…seriously? who cares…It’s clearly meant for girls who are teenagers to read and have someone to look up to and if you are older you can still relate…I think it’s weird the only ones that care about that seem to be actual adults who aren’t “YA” either if we are saying that’s 13-18 year olds…I think this is a great book and if you are into THIS kind of thing you will love it…if you aren’t then of course you might not love it but stop hating on those that do.

So what. Lisa Hendricks has bad taste, right? That’s nothing to do with Lani Sarem. After all, they are two very different books and not everyone is going to like every single thing, right?

Except, you may remember from, oh, this entire fucking time that Lani Sarem has had it out for Angie Thomas ever since Handbook For Mortals was removed from the New York Times bestseller list and The Hate U Give was returned to its rightful spot. From the legendary “It’s not my fault that Angie is black!” comment to the fact that she has continually alleged that forces behind The Hate U Give have sabotaged Handbook For Mortals out of jealousy, Lani Sarem cannot stand to see Angie Thomas authentically achieving something that Sarem feels should have been handed to her just because she wanted it.

Still, how is Lisa Hendricks connected to all this?

She’s thanked in the gargantuan and self-congratulatory acknowledgments section of Handbook For Mortals:

To Lisa Hendricks for being my second mom, and for more things than I could ever write into words. Some girls need more than one mom, and lots of guidance, and I would probably be curled up on the side of the road somewhere if it weren’t for you. Thank you for letting me make your home mine, for being the voice of reason, for just being awesome, and for showing me who I should always strive to become.

Lisa Hendricks one-starred a book about a black teenager who sees her best friend shot by the police as “depressing” and it just happens to be the book that was knocked out of and later returned to the coveted #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list during this fiasco, and she’s the person who shows Lani who she should strive to become? Checks out. Your work here is done, Lisa.

In case you remain unconvinced that this is a personal strike on Sarem’s behalf, Hendricks has only reviewed three things on Amazon: The Hate U Give and Handbook For Mortals on February 14, 2018, and then a camera tripod four years ago.

Though Sarem didn’t offer an explanation as to why these reviews suddenly started popping up (and she didn’t disavow a relationship with Hendricks, which to be perfectly honest, I thought she would do despite the overwhelming evidence that she does know her), she did make it very clear that Heidi Heilig’s grasp on reality would not be tolerated:

A tweet from Lani Sarem to Heidi Heilig that reads, "Completely untrue and you literally made this up. That is slander. You should take this tweet down or I'll contact my attorney. Making things up to get tweets is really bad."

Making things up to get tweets is really bad. Making up sales, reviews, celebrity connections, that’s all totally okay. But taking screenshots that clearly show the truth is really bad.

Chapter fifteen surprisingly does not begin “a few weeks later.” Instead, it picks up right at the start of the show, which goes well despite Mac bailing (which Liver and Zonions isn’t aware of). Then, we arrive at the finale. The big illusion that Zuckerberg and Spopperfield have been working on in secret this whole time.

I  took a deep breath and tried to focus and clear my head. I needed to; I had to have a clear, focused mind to pull it off.

I’m putting that there because it’s important and it hardly ever gets mentioned again in this chapter.

Now, at this point, we don’t have a real sense of where Zagnut is in relation to any action happening, so when she says “Charles came on stage,” in the next paragraph, my assumption is that she is on the stage. She says he stands in the middle of “the platform,” by which I assume she means the stage. Anyway, wherever the fuck Chuck is standing, he says:

“This is perhaps the hardest illusion anyone has ever attempted to do. I ask that everyone stay completely quiet while my gifted performer makes her very first attempt at this.” I had heard his speech hundreds of times (and even helped to write it) so needless to say I knew it well.

Let’s not start polishing that Pulitzer yet. It was literally two sentences. Also, which one did you write? The one where you basically called yourself a better magician than your boss or the one where you described yourself as “gifted”?

Plus, what does he mean “for the first time”? They’ve been doing this over and over for months. Is that just magician theatrics? If I’d edited this book, I would have suggested a line with Zonk thinking that “for the first time” was just showmanship, or I would have had Charles say “in front of an audience.”

The water around  the stage below me began to bubble, and the lights changed color with dramatic precision on cue.

Yeah, I should fucking hope they changed on cue. Since light cues are a thing. Of course, maybe there aren’t light cues in Las Vegas. I wouldn’t know since I’m not an Olympic magician and so much of this is totally true.

In simplistic terms, the illusion used complex deep chaos-based magick; not the simple kind I typically used.

Again, I’m not majhikhaaal like our protagonist here, but I feel like if I wanted to do a big, dangerous thing in an auditorium full of people, and I wanted to do it with precision exactly the same way every time…maybe complex chaos-based majix wouldn’t be the way I’d go with it.

It was dangerous because, if not done correctly, it could backfire.

This is so vague that it could be about anything. Riding a horse is dangerous because if not done correctly, it could proverbially backfire. Cutting your own hair is dangerous because if not done correctly, it could proverbially backfire. Loading a cannon is dangerous because if not done correctly, it could literally backfire. We need detailed consequences if you’re trying to up the stakes.

I had never actually done an illusion that was so hard or complex, and–outside of work–I rarely did them at all.

Um, yes, you have done an illusion this hard and complex. You’ve told us over and over and over and over that you’ve been rehearsing this for months in secret. You and Charles have been designing it and spending all your free time together perfecting it. What the hell were you working on if you weren’t actually performing it?

I took one more long deep breath to clear my head as I listened to Charles continue entrancing the audience.

Again, I’m just calling attention to the bit where she clears her head, as it’s super important and goes woefully unmentioned.

Sofia starts singing–I’m surprised her song wasn’t cut from the show–and we finally get an idea of where Zue Lellen is. No, she’s not on the stage. How silly of me to assume that. She’s up in the friggin’ catwalks again, getting ready to descend from the ceiling like Our Lady Of The Wynn Hotel And Casino for probably the twelfth time of the show.

My hair and clothes rippled as the wind caught them, making a familiar popping noise. My red velvet cloak fluttered as well, but since it was made of heavy velvet it only softly fluttered.

Now, as the illusion goes on, there’s not really any indication as to what, exactly, Load is making happen through her maghik, but thank god we have at least some detail with regards to the intensity of flutter exhibited by her various costume pieces.

Whatever. She says her “feet hit the platform on the stage,” but I don’t know if that’s the platform that Chud Sporperman is yapping on or what. She unhooks her harness, which…uh…she’s fucking maehjikal and the illusion is super secret, but she can’t just dive down like her other illusion? Or fly down?

You know what would have made this book better? A lot of things. But specifically, in this instance, what if all illusions required chaos magic and that’s why Dela or Delilah or whoever is responsible for pushing Zink from her reprehensible loins didn’t want her to go be a part of the show? Because chaos magic-MAGIC WITH A C-is so dangerous and something happened to Chuck and that’s why he left and why he’s so weird with other people?

Whatever, I don’t care, this book is unsalvageable no matter how much rewriting you guys do in the comments.

Even as I sat in front of a packed audience, my mind kept drifting to my conversation with Mac, and I had to keep telling myself that I couldn’t think about it. I coudln’t let myself get distracted  or the whole illusion could go completely sideways. My mind had to be clear and I had to focus on the spell.

See what I mean? If only we had some indication of what state of mind she needs to be in. I feel absolutely lost on that key detail.

I closed my eyes and shook my head a little as I tried to push aside the thoughts of my argument-and what I should tell Mac about who Charles really was to me-aside.

Okay, so again we’ve got confirmation that Zade knows exactly who Chunky Spizzleman is and that Sarem is intentionally keeping the information from the reader in her own point of view. Even in a screenplay, this would be clumsy because the viewer wouldn’t realize there’s a Big Misunderstanding without being in Lim Zimmer’s head.

So, Zart starts waving her hand and that makes the water choppy. The music starts getting heavier to go with the illusion that the band has never seen or rehearsed with before and the lighting changes despite no one being allowed to see the illusion to program it. And Chuddles Sportsman is still running his mouth:

“This illusion has never been performed in front  of anyone, including the crew. It’s a very dangerous illusion for the lovely Zade. If anything goes wrong while we are doing the illusion, she could be lost forever, never to be seen again! So, please, to help her we ask you hold your applause to the end of the illusion.”

Did Zade really write this, or did Lani Sarem breach the barrier between fiction and reality to replace “until” with “to”?

Remember when I said we needed something specific to raise the stakes? Yeah, if it comes in the middle of showboating magician dialogue, it doesn’t work. Again, we don’t know if he’s saying all of this for dramatic effect, or if she could be in real danger. Putting this consequence in the dialogue also doesn’t work if you immediately undermine the danger in the next paragraph:

Though, as I’ve said, there was real truth in what he was saying: it really was a very dangerous illusion, even if his words were mostly scripted to get a specific reaction from the audience.

But what do I know? I’m just a fucking writer.

I was messing with a particular kind of magick-a kind of magick that was both strong and volitile.

I was messing with a particular kind of magick, which I hadn’t quite yet mastered. Chaos magick, is both strong and volitile, as its name implies and is by nature very unpredictable.

No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. Those sentences really do say the exact same thing with many of the exact same words. And yes, they’re presented exactly as they are in the book, without anything left out between them. She just repeats the sentence and dresses it up a little the second time.

Three editors.

It involves pulling power from sources that are, to a certain extent, uncontrollable-kind of like trying to ride a wild horse. In either case, you can do it-and if you really know what you are doing and you do everything right it may go off without a hitch, but one wrong move and it can all go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks real quick. I wouldn’t be “lost forever” as Charles put it (that was there for dramatic flare) but lots of things could go very wrong-and even I really didn’t know just how wrong they could go.

Again, they’ve been doing this for months and she’s never gotten anything wrong? She’s done it exactly right every single time? She has no idea what happens if you don’t get it perfectly right every single time?

The tension in the audience had become palpable, causing a ripple in my concentration.

Maybe you should have planned for the audience being there, what with the fact that you intended to perform this in front of an audience? If there was only a way to try something out before you did it in front of a large group of paying customers. Like, some kind of practice where you’d DRESS in your costume as though the REHEARSAL was a real show. What if you INVITED the people who worked in the theater or a handful of their guests to watch while you did this? Like some kind of, oh, what’s the term a non-theatrical dope like me would make up on the fly…an invited dress rehearsal, maybe? Or even, gosh, a preview for the press who are clamoring outside?

I mean, what do I know? Those probably aren’t even things.

Chandor Spordster tells the audience:

“We call this illusion ‘Creation’, because that is  what we are doing,” […]

All I can think of when I read that phrasing is the scene from Bridget Jones’s Diary where she’s desperately trying not to call her boss “Mr. Titspervert” while introducing him at a work function and she ends up saying he’s the man they all call Mr. Fitzherbert, “Because that…is his name.”

The next part of the illusion is a thunderstorm that sends shivers through the audience and confuses the fuck out of the reader with regards to where the hell anyone is standing on this stage:

The water around the platform I was sitting on began to lap even harder and began to soak into my clothes. I knew this was supposed to happen but, even though I knew, the water still shocked me a little and I shivered. Here we go, I thought, as a huge wave washed over me. From the audience perspective, I had just disappeared, leaving only my cloak, which looked like something that had washed up on a beach.

Did anyone else think she was on the stage with Charles and not some previously unmentioned, fully separate platform in the pool? Because did, because that’s how the scene is written. But there I go, quibbling over nothing, I guess.

Before we get too far, let’s tally up what we’ve seen in this illusion up to this point:

  • Zade floats down from the ceiling on wires
  • The water in the pool turns into waves
  • There is the sound of thunder
  • Zade disappears

We’ll add to that list as we continue along.

The audience’s attention shifted as they began to notice rain beginning to fall, very lightly, from the ceiling to a spot in the middle of the stage.

  • On-stage rainfall

So much in this chapter “begins” to do something rather than just doing it. The water below her begins to bubble. She begins to make a waving motion and the water begins to move. Then the water begins to lap and begins to soak her clothes. The audience begins to notice that rain is beginning to fall. It’s not just a matter of word repetition here; she’s labeling immediate actions as ongoing processes when it’s not necessary. She doesn’t need to begin to make a waving motion with her hands. “I made waving motions with my hands and the water began to move,” is fine. “The water began to lap even harder and soaked into my clothes,” is fine. “The audience’s attention shifted as they noticed rain falling very lightly from the ceiling to a spot in the middle of the stage,” is fine. If everything is always “beginning” to happen, you’re setting up a delay between the reader and the action. At this point, the illusion might as well have been written in present tense.

As the water hit the ground and splashed up, it turned to sand and started to pile on the stage. The pile grew larger and larger, and I heard someone in the audience scream as lightning rippled from nowhere and one bolt struck the sand.

Like, how dramatic is that audience member that lightning during a thunderstorm portion of a theatrical presentation would cause them to scream?

But let’s add these to our total:

  • Zade floats down from the ceiling on wires
  • The water in the pool turns into waves
  • There is the sound of thunder
  • Zade disappears
  • On-stage rainfall
  • Rain turns into a sand pile
  • Lightning strikes the sand pile

Out of the sand rolled a glass sculpture: a life-sized statue of me.

How big is that sand pile? Jesus.

(I wasn’t too fond of the statue part, to be honest–I though it was weird and creepy–but Charles thought it would be a good effect.)

Zimple didn’t want to see a life-sized effigy of herself revealed dramatically on stage? That’s a characterization inconsistency if I’ve ever read one. And we have no indication where Lunk is right now. We know she disappeared from the platform, but where did she disappear to? Where is she narrating this scene from? Just off-stage? Under the stage? Up in the catwalks because the height of theatrical wizardry is, in Lani Sarem’s mind, descending on wires? Where is our protagonist?

At about this point in the illusion, I just barely began to notice that I was starting to feel not-so-great.

 

 

I thought it was because I was allowing the thoughts of what had gone on with Mac to enter my head, and I started to get mad at myself for letting it happen.

So, she began to notice she was starting to feeling a way and then she started to get mad at herself. And none of those filter words are required to make that section work. But let’s not overlook that at least here, she hints at the need for concentration. So far, that hasn’t really been emphasized.

Another bolt of lightning struck the stage, and then an apple tree began to grow quickly and high out of the sand, with apples already heavy on its branches. I heard the audience gasp again. (The apple tree was my idea and I thought it was a great part of the illusion, so their gasp gave me a good boost.) The tree branches began to rust and move before a crack sounded as one of the limbs at the top fell and a handsome young man suddenly tumbled out of the tree and landed at Charles’s feet.

Are you sure he didn’t begin to tumble out of the tree before beginning to land at Charles’s feet?

Illusion so far:

  • Zade floats down from the ceiling on wires
  • The water in the pool turns into waves
  • There is the sound of thunder
  • Zade disappears
  • On-stage rainfall
  • Rain turns into a sand pile
  • Lightning strikes the sand pile
  • Glass statue
  • Another bolt of lightning
  • A tree grows
  • A guy falls out of the tree

Trust me, I’m keeping track of all of this to make a point later. I’m thinking you probably can guess what it is.

Not many people realized it, but the boy looked just like what Charles had looked like when he was a teenager.

So narcissism runs in the family.

Though I assume the guy who fell out of the tree was made out of Khaos Mahajaik or whatever, that’s never mentioned. For all we know, it could just be a dude who bears a striking resemblance to Charles. There’s never any line about how he’s not really there or he’s been conjured by Zamboni’s powerful talent. It’s just, “Oh, there’s a dude here now.” So, a reader could be thinking to themselves, “Wait, isn’t this something only Chunders and Zortly have been working on?” and be as confused over that as I am over someone picking up this book with the intent of reading it for pleasure and getting this far into it.

The guy pulls some apples off the tree and throws them into the audience because hey, why not lob food items pulled from the void via chaotic forces at an audience of unsuspecting people?

Charles continued his narration, letting the audience know that the people who were lucky enough to catch the apples should feel free to eat them and see that they were real. He made sure that they knew that they would be the best apples they’d ever eat.

The best apples. The absolute–look, I’m tellin’ ya. You have never tasted apples like these ones, okay? Believe me. You haven’t. Nobody has. Because they’re the best apples. And I know a lot about apples, okay? Maybe more than the apple farmers do. Trust me.

The magical teen dreamboat cuts down the tree with an ax:

The tree fell straight onto the stage and, as it hits the ground, sparks and fire blew through the wood of the tree.

Sarem wrote the first part of the sentence in past tense and, as she nears the middle of it, flipped to present for no reason and then back to past.

The tree burns up and the sand rises in a big swirl to obscure the burning tree, putting us at:

  • Zade floats down from the ceiling on wires
  • The water in the pool turns into waves
  • There is the sound of thunder
  • Zade disappears
  • On-stage rainfall
  • Rain turns into a sand pile
  • Lightning strikes the sand pile
  • Glass statue
  • Another bolt of lightning
  • A tree grows
  • A guy falls out of the tree
  • The guy throws apples into the crowd
  • The guy chops down the tree
  • The tree catches fire
  • The sand blows around

When the sand had settled, the fire was gone and in its place there was a beautifully carved wooden wardrobe–he kind that looked like it should have been in the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That had always been one of my most favorite books, and I had added that touch as an homage to that story. The young man pulled the doors all the way open to show that the wardrobe was empty, he then shut the doors and reopened them to reveal a guitar. He removed the guitar from the wardrobe and then put the glass sculpture that was sitting next to the wardrobe inside it and closed the doors.

Yes, please, send her ass to Fillory, FFS.

PS: There are a lot of typos in these excerpts. Those aren’t me being careless. This chapter is peppered with them. The three editors had probably already died from exhaustion at this point.

He picked the guitar back up and sat on the ground and began to play a haunting melody that complemented what the band in the theater had been playing.

Anyway, here’s “Wonderwall.”

Zelda listens to him and Sofia singing together and thinks how beautiful Sofia’s voice is, but Zink can’t really enjoy it because she’s in horrible pain through this entire section.

I struggled to bring it all back together and bring the energy and focus back to what I had to do.

Ohhhh, the problem is that she’s not focusing. I get it now. Why wasn’t this mentioned earlier?

 

The wardrobe was struck by lightning and split in two, and the crack of the wood echoed through the theater, giving chills to the audience and momentarily breaking their concentration.

Well, shit, the audience needs to concentrate now, too?

I was now visible again, standing in the middle of the two broken pieces of the wardrobe.

This would be a lot more impressive if we’d had any idea where you were in the first place, Lindt Zuffle. Seriously, she disappeared and reappeared but could see everything happening on stage the entire time, but never once do we hear that she’s in the wings or above the stage or just where the fuck she goes at all.

Then Zade pulls an apple from her pocket and the crowd goes berserk:

I smiled and everyone jumped to their feet, bursting into thunderous applause.

Imagine being so drunk and easy to impress that you give someone a standing ovation because they can fit an apple in their pocket.

Even though we’ve been told several times that Zamantha is in horrific pain and just barely holding on to finish the illusion, she describes giving the audience a “devilish grin” and a wink as she continues. Basically, Zunk is suffering unimaginable torment and performing the illusion is killing her, but she’s super, super good at being tortured, so she toughs it out.

This is the literary equivalent of the last sixteen minutes of Braveheart.

I then playfully took a bite of the apple, and “fainted”. The crowd gasped in horror, not knowing that it was part of the illusion. They thought something was really wrong–just like they were supposed to. The boy caught me as I fell and kissed me, waking me from my “slumber.” I gave the boy my apple, and he took a bite. Suddenly, with a flash of light, he disappeared and the apple fell to the ground.

One of my favorite things about this chapter is how Zwork slowly becomes omniscient as the story goes on. She speaks for the thoughts and feelings of the entire audience at this point, but in the next recap, it will have spread to literally knowing the inner thoughts of every character.

Keeping track of the illusion, we’ve now seen:

  • Zade floats down from the ceiling on wires
  • The water in the pool turns into waves
  • There is the sound of thunder
  • Zade disappears
  • On-stage rainfall
  • Rain turns into a sand pile
  • Lightning strikes the sand pile
  • Glass statue
  • Another bolt of lightning
  • A tree grows
  • A guy falls out of the tree
  • The guy throws apples into the crowd
  • The guy chops down the tree
  • The tree catches fire
  • The sand blows around
  • A wardrobe appears
  • There’s a guitar in the wardrobe
  • The glass statue goes into the wardrobe
  • Real Zade comes out
  • She pulls an apple from her pocket
  • She eats it and faints
  • The guy kisses her awake
  • The guy disappears in a flash of light

Charles picks up Lorne’s cloak (which I guess is just on the stage and not on its own separate platform as described earlier) and puts it on her.

I kept going with the routine, although inside it felt like I was dying.

 

GOB Bluth and Tony Wonder saying "Same!" in a scene from Arrested Development.

 

Then lightning hits her and she disappears, leaving the cloak behind again.

From the audience’s point of view, this was going exactly as it should. But I had taken the impact of the lightning and I could feel my body burning–which was not supposed to happen.

IDK, from what I understand that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen when you get struck by lightning.

As the lightning strike faded, another apple rolled out on the stage from the arm of the cloak. Charles walked over and picked it up. He took a bite and then he, too, disappeared with a spark of light as the apple fell to the ground.

Obviously, the audience is in raptures, practically tearing their faces off with wonder and cursing God for ever showing them such perfection or whatever. Charles goes out to take his bows (and for a brief cameo by the Wynns), but Lord Of The Zings can’t summon the strength, as she’s being ripped to shreds internally by chaos magic. But put a pin in that for now, because that’s the end of the show and we need a look at our final tally:

  • Zade floats down from the ceiling on wires
  • The water in the pool turns into waves
  • There is the sound of thunder
  • Zade disappears
  • On-stage rainfall
  • Rain turns into a sand pile
  • Lightning strikes the sand pile
  • Glass statue
  • Another bolt of lightning
  • A tree grows
  • A guy falls out of the tree
  • The guy throws apples into the crowd
  • The guy chops down the tree
  • The tree catches fire
  • The sand blows around
  • A wardrobe appears
  • There’s a guitar in the wardrobe
  • The glass statue goes into the wardrobe
  • Real Zade comes out
  • She pulls an apple from her pocket
  • She eats it and faints
  • The guy kisses her awake
  • The guy disappears in a flash of light
  • Zade disappears in a flash of light
  • Charles disappears in a flash of light

I’m actually surprised at how well this illusion keeps to the creation theme, to be honest. There’s not a lot to pick apart there. Sarem started out with imagery of the firmaments, the creation of man, the tree of knowledge, she even throws some C.S. Lewis in there with the wardrobe. Of course, the glass statue and guitar playing are out of nowhere, which suggests to me that I might be giving Sarem way too much credit to sticking with a theme when she could have just been throwing together stuff she considers “cool”.

But my major beef with this entire dangerous illusion is that it didn’t need to be dangerous. There isn’t one thing on that entire list that couldn’t have been faked with technical wizardry. Light, sound, and special effects could have created all of this without all the secrecy hoopla. They probably could have even found a carbon-copy of her dad for her to make out with on stage instead of pulling one together from cosmic forces. It would have been…wait for it…an illusion.

What Zoritos and Chuck have done here is just make real things out of magic. They’re not tricking the audience into seeing things that aren’t really there; the things are there. Being able to pull this trick off by making everything real with magic isn’t anywhere near as exciting as it would be if all of it came together through carefully crafted effects. If Lung had simply used magic to correct something or prevent some catastrophe from happening during the illusion, she could still suffer ~*majixkhal*~ consequences and the rest of the chapter wouldn’t have to change.

Plus, it would have been more believable. Right now, Sarem is asking us to believe that all the performers and technicians who have never been allowed to even see this “illusion” are capable of carrying out their jobs perfectly while performing it for the very first time. Is the band making apples appear out of nowhere? No, but they still need to be able to at least rehearse so their playing is timed with what’s happening on the stage. Someone needs to be up in the catwalk at the beginning so Zerp can bend into naively sexy poses while they adjust her harness. There are too many people involved in this for the reader to buy that everything came together without a hitch the first time the whole company performed this.

On top of that, there are incredibly skilled technicians in that theater watching as the stuff they usually do happens without them, and without them having been replaced by other humans operating the controls. Is the lighting effects guy not wondering how all this lightning is happening without anyone doing anything on the board? Is the floor crew confused as to how all these set pieces they’ve never moved or seen backstage are just suddenly appearing? Are all of these people sitting there going, “Well, there must be an entirely separate crew working somewhere we can’t see them?” It wouldn’t make any sense.

But, as this is Zandbook For Lortles, of course, we believe it. We have to, because it’s what Lani Sarem wants and she’s writing this book, not you. And you’re just jealous.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold on much longer, the pain had become overwhelming and my whole body was burning like I was on fire from the inside. It was burning all the way through me to my fingertips and it felt like I had swallowed gasoline and then lit a match inside my throat. Somehow I managed to walk–or more like drag–my body the five feet or so over to Zeb–the only person I was in arm’s length of reaching.

In case you were wondering, it’s a burning pain she’s feeling. It burns.

Illana on Broad City asking a veterinarian , "Um, are human hemorrhoids the same as dog hemorrhoids, and if so, does dog hemorrhoid cream work on human buttholes?"

 

Zeb was definitely not my first choice for the person whose arms I would want to collapse into–after all, I’d had some practice with Jackson–but surprisingly there was something about his arms that made me feel safe.

She’s dying from internal majik burns or whatever, but she has a moment to spare a thought about how dreamy Jackson is.

Zeb mumbles words that Zink identifies as not being English and Tad arrives on the scene, followed by Riley.

Tad pointed at Riley, “Riley, call 911! Now!

While I am annoyed to see “pointed” used as a dialogue tag (you can’t point words out of your mouth), I’m more annoyed with the response to this incident as opposed to the one where Sofia fell sixty feet onto standing water and went into cardiac arrest. Everyone, everyone, except Zade stood around and acted like Sofia was inconveniencing them by dying. They did more work trying to console Riley than they did trying to save Sofia’s life. But Zani faints in the wings and people are screaming for 9-1-1 immediately.

I got my eyes to open and there was Charles standing in front of me, panic stricken. I heard him say, “Oh, God, what do we do?”

Why is Charles a) panic-stricken and b) confused as to what to do next? He knows Linda is maghikal. He’s been aware of it this whole time, and I assume he is also super majikhhhal as well (since they have to bone their own kind or whatever). Did they never, in all their discussions about how dangerous this illusion was going to be, stop and think about what they would do if things went wrong? Why didn’t they have the forethought to make a plan for the worst case scenario?

Zug begs Charles to call her mother, then she passes out, and we’ll pick up the next section in another recap.

290 Comments

  1. Nocturnal Queen
    Nocturnal Queen

    Interesting that she thought the statue thing was creepy but not kissing a younger version of her dad.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • ASMR Bookclub
      ASMR Bookclub

      I thought the same thing!

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Not to mention she didn’t think it was creepy to cup her actual dad’s cheeks and hold his face like she was gonna make out with him. KNOWING HE’S HER FATHER.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • Oz
      Oz

      I wonder (this is pure speculation) if the ‘I didn’t want this statue thing but Charles insisted’ section is based on real events. For example, when they were plotting out the movie version and discussing what they could do for the grand illusion at the end, Lani didn’t like the statue idea or thought it wasn’t possible, but one of her friends (maybe Thomas) pushed for it.

      I don’t know why, but that’s what I thought had happened as soon as I read that part.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Sounds legit. She can’t fathom conceding in most cases so a friend probably did talk her into it and she wanted to begrudgingly acknowledge that.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Alex Silvers
      Alex Silvers

      I’m glad you mentioned that because I was going to. Way to clear that misunderstanding with Mac right up, Zozo. Not that he knows that the kid looks like Charles… unless. There is a way of capturing the images of people from a certain period in their lives? Nah, that’s just silly.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  2. Petra
    Petra

    I haven’t finished reading yet but I’ve dropped down to say while that review may have been posted from Hendricks account I’d bet good money Lazi Sandhead either helped or wrote it herself. From the spelling of “magick”, to the overall tone, to the issues raised about folk complaining the book isn’t YA, the whole thing reminds me strongly of both her tweets and the contributions she made to that author Facebook group. Given that Ms Hendricks has only reviewed three things my guess is that’s Lamey Slackem using her second mom’s amazon account to big up her book, bash folk calling her out and go after Angie Thomas. Thinking about it, this has pretty much been her modis operandi from the minute she got caught.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      I went back to the theatre olympian’s comment and compared the review. It’s got the same wandering structure (let’s discuss the strong female character! The setting! The ages of her critics! The sequel and movie!) But it also still feels repetitive. The word “love” shows up five times.

      My money’s going down beside yours.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  3. Jo
    Jo

    I’m sorry, I’m still caught up in the “kiss a younger version of her dad”. How are we supposed to react when it’s revealed that Charles is actually her dad and she was kissing a younger version of him onstage? Why? Why include that?

    March 7, 2018
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      It’s Luke and Leia?

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Liza
        Liza

        At least Luke and Leia didn’t know they were related when they kissed (I think?).
        But in this case Zelda is fully aware that Chuck E Cheese is her bio-dad.

        I still don’t understand why she’s so hush-hush about her parentage though. IMO it’s not any worse to succeed through nepotism rather than sleeping with the boss. All this artificial drama is ridiculous: “I can’t possibly tell him the truth. On the one hand he thinks I’m a slutty slut who sluts. On the other hand, if I tell him the truth that only I (and not you dear reader) know, he’ll realize that I’m a slutty slut who’s slutting with my dad.” Oh wait – now I get it.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • whimbrel
          whimbrel

          >At least Luke and Leia didn’t know they were related when they kissed (I think?).

          No they didn’t. I’ve heard that was changed sometime between Empire and Jedi because Han was hugely popular, so Lucas decided to put him with Leia instead.

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
          • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
            Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

            My understanding is that Mark and Carrie were both creeped out when they found out that characates were related because they’d kissed. And that was their characters being related, not the two actors being related.

            I don’t care if Charles looks like a Harrison Ford, it’s gross that Zade is kissing someone who looks like her dad, especially because she looks like her mom. So. Fucking. Gross.

            March 11, 2018
        • Athena
          Athena

          I believe there’s a ‘blink and you’ll miss it line” (since I don’t think it’s ever brought up again) that Dela put a spell on Charles to where he couldn’t say that Zade was his daughter. I don’t believe there’s ever a mention that the same spell is on Zade, but I can almost go with her not saying anything since without Charles backing her up it would look like she was lying. But, couldn’t there be some way around it? He could heavily imply without stating it outright. “I knew Zade’s mother, we used to date.” And if someone asked him outright, “It’s possible.” See? He’s not saying it, but that added to his preferential treatment would lead people to think he at the very least believed he was.

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            I don’t think it was fully confirmed that Dela put a spell on Charles. I remember it being ambiguous and she actually got huffy about it, so while that seems plausible, it remains confusing. And Charles is able to break through it easily enough when Zala is in a coma and Mac accuses him of kissing her so… yeah. The whole thing is weird, but I’m too lazy to look at the other reviews to confirm I’m remembering it correctly.

            As far as I’m concerned, you’re right but it also makes no sense in general and was handled very poorly. Sofia never seems to be romantically jealous of Zade again after aggressively wrangling his arm in chapter 1 (“not how a daughter would act”), and later on she twice seems to call Zade out on her nepotism; once while speaking to Mel and later when Sofia mentions fucking Charles to purity pureness girl and Zade gives that irritating non-apology “I’m so sorry you think I don’t deserve what I totes deserve lol whut.”

            I think Zade was meant to be a surrogate for her mother because otherwise, Dela wasn’t interacting with Charles at all, so their wedding at the end comes out of nowhere and it seems like a long misunderstanding that could’ve been straightened out immediately. Lani Sarem wasn’t capable of marrying the two storylines or writing a genuine father-daughter relationship, so she wrote more garbage romance and turned it into a twist to hide her jarring solution. Then people gave her feedback that it was still weird and for the novel, she thought she needed a true love triangle so she compounded things further by sacrificing some of Spellman’s scenes to Jackson and spread everything thinner than it already was, which is a real feat considering she dropped in so much useless filler… She could have had plenty of space to develop all three of these guys and she didn’t know how or care if it worked. 😛

            March 9, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            Charles is able to break through it easily enough when Zala is in a coma

            If I’m right, it’s obviously bad writing. That goes without saying. But, to justify it, maybe there’s a caveat to the spell that he can break it if Zombie’s life is in danger? I mean, without the reveal he has no authority to move her anywhere.

            I think Zade was meant to be a surrogate for her mother

            HOW is this logical?!?!?! I’m not questioning your deduction, just Sarem’s logic. I know this is some sort of trope where an estranged father and daughter reconnect and it reminds him how much he loved his ex-wife… And now I realize Sarem’s copying What a Girl Wants, right down to the hippy mother and the ‘cool’ daughter. But, that whole trope depends on the assumption that these two adults, at least one raising a teenage daughter, haven’t changed at all since when they broke up. In Charles and Dela’s case, it’s been twenty-five years. These should be two completely different people. Yes, they could still be right for one another, but they could also be even more wrong than they were before. Especially considering it wasn’t outside forces pulling them apart like the above movie, but Charles’s own ego and Dela’s anger at his infidelity. Yes, there’s supposed to be some rule about mixing with mundanes, but seeing as how it’s only ever mentioned in passing, I doubt that was really a part of the breakup.

            Even if the reconnection is plausible, the incestuous way Charles and Zade are written throws everything into a questionable light.

            March 10, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I mean, without the reveal he has no authority to move her anywhere.

            Of course but they could’ve kidnapped her if Lani Sarem wanted them to. Since it was easier to use the reveal to clear up Mac’s misconceptions, she took the easy path and left it all up in the air.

            I mean, yes, that’s an easy caveat to have in case his daughter ended up in the hospital and Dela couldn’t reach her, but they could’ve had Dela fly to Las Vegas instead and they didn’t because I guess Tennessee is more magical and that’s where all her stuff is. I’d be surprised if Dela can’t mind-wipe a hospital after she sent excess voltage into her daughter’s body and Mac used an unprescribed epi-pen but… to be honest, they could’ve made it look like Dela was a specialist doctor and not Zade’s mother with magic too.

            There were zero reasons Charles had to say anything because he was inconsequential. Lani Sarem just wanted to get the doctor’s confusion out there first but there’s no reason we needed his seal of approval. It would’ve made more sense if Dela realized this was some kind of magical backlash and told baby daddy to give her a lift. Mac could’ve been waiting in the waiting room with supreme anxiety until Charles turned up with her, she gave Mac the skinny, and then magicked him into a male nurse uniform. I mean, these people regularly trick folks with just enough info and Dela is a magical expert and she needed Mac as her assistant.

            I think the only reason they took Zade home is that it felt more comforting which is the LAST thing you need when tension is appropriate. Hospitals give more oomph and uncertainty, but also less mysticism. She would’ve had to work harder to write those scenes and so she took the easy path. :p

            These should be two completely different people. Yes, they could still be right for one another, but they could also be even more wrong than they were before.

            Exactly. I think Dela was waiting for Charles to come around from his drug and womanizing issues and I can’t even remember if Charles mentionings “going clean” during the time he was away from her. Obviously, if they aren’t together he can fuck whoever he wants but for example, Sofia got protective so it seems like he’s pulled this shit before with her, and in general, dating his co-worker isn’t the best idea without creating some potential strain.

            Even if Charles had a huge turnaround and Dela stayed the same, he could’ve decided that he really didn’t need her. I remember him freaking out a bit when they had the kid so even though he might have had a turn of heart about that early on, it’s possible after so many years that Zade would be a complete stranger to him and he would probably be attracted to his own DNA which looked like a woman he loved years ago, but Zade’s face could also remind him of old heartache and of how old he’s gotten. He might realize the chance to connect has passed him by and he doesn’t feel any need to be her father. Charles might love Dela in memory but feel too tired and done with that part of his life to reopen the door to his heart. There’s just so much that could happen, it’s really barebones assumption that they’re a) all set to rekindle at the drop of a hat and b) don’t have any hard feelings.

            And yeah, the attempts to hint at incest just convolute everything further. It wasn’t necessary for drama but Lani Sarem didn’t want sadness, she wanted the perfect outcome. She never knew her father and I guess never had a replacement surrogate growing up, didn’t even bother watching some movies about that kind of bond for something to go on or basically didn’t want the effort of imagining these two relationships remotely realistically, so she really just created a BFF Mary Sue Matchmaker Twin to get these two who broke up less than a year ago back together and married.

            … Good lord. It would’ve made so much more sense if Dela and Zade had been identical twins instead. Then there could’ve been a proper twist. Instead of Dela returning to him, Charles finds out it’s her sister who is just trying to get him to solve the misunderstanding, but now Charles is attracted to Zade instead! OR IS HE? XD

            But Lani Sarem doesn’t have a magickal twin so of course she didn’t write that.

            March 10, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I forgot to add, of course, Dela is Mac’s tour guide into the World of Witchcraft and in theory he should be skeptical if she pretends to be a doctor but Zade should’ve been Mac’s goddamn intro, there was no reason to hide it, she should’ve been forthcoming and Mac refused to believe her. THEN Dela could turn up and do stuff that makes up his mind but also he should’ve been coming around as the story progressed anyway.

            So, again, no reason Mac and coma-girl had to go to Tennessee for him to become enlightened and there’d be tension as he thinks maybe he’s crazy for trusting this woman who at one point strongly resemble Zade until she faked medical clearance with subtle magic that he can’t entirely logic away with his illusion career expertise. Charles also serves as a mental turning point because he trusts this woman, whom he went to fetch himself, with Zade’s life and Dela notes that a) she is Zade’s mom so she really shouldn’t be doctoring her own kid (I think that’s a rule?) which is why she has to keep it hush-hush and sneak in under a fake ID and b) that when asked, she dated Charles in the past like you suggested, Athena. Mac can easily put two and two together and maybe Charles doesn’t say aloud his relationship because he didn’t know that he needed to. Mac is left dangling for longer while Charles speaks to the doctor, and then it’s more exciting when Charles begins scheming to get Dela into the hospital and tells Mac that he should hang around, which of course Mac wants to do anyway, he’s so worried! And he wants a chance to see her during visiting hours? I dunno.

            Point is, the spell was broken as soon as it was necessary. Working around it would’ve definitely been more interesting, but there are probably other ways to get the same tension? I mean, what if the spell was to keep Charles safe from nosy witches? We’re never told why Dela did it, as far as I know, so presumably, it was just to keep Charles from chasing after her when she left and keeping him from going to court maybe? There could be better reasons or no spell at all and Charles was hoping people would recognize Zade’s skill as separate from his own or something. It would’ve worked if she had any damn skillz or tried to keep her magicks on the down-low.

            But yeah, it’s just really bad writing. As many have said, she never properly explains the stuff that needs explaining and even inferring from it gets complicated because she’s just not good enough at coming up with answers that make sense, so our assumptions are either bizarre or not at all what she intended and most of the time simply based on how literature works or should work. Even when we figure it out way ahead of when the novel reveals the truth, that doesn’t help because it’s such a boring mess.

            March 10, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            Hospitals give more oomph and uncertainty, but also less mysticism.

            Actually, the juxtaposition of the high science inherent in a hospital setting against the pure anti-science of magic could have been a very interesting thing to play with. How different are the two? How similar? Can both exist in the same place safely? I’m a fan of the Dresden Files, and in that Dresden has to be very careful around modern tech to keep from making it go haywire because of his magic. He’s even afraid of visiting a friend in the hospital because of what it might do to the machines keeping him alive. But honestly you’re right, there was no reason to take her to Tennessee, especially because we’re supposed to believe Time is of the utmost importance. (Except for needing to follow the Twilight chain of events which clearly states the heroine must go home to her mother for some reason.) Of course, we find out it really isn’t. What would have worked better is when Dela calls Charles (at least I think she does just after Zurgle is out) for her to tell Charles she driving to the Nashville airport right then and Charles buying her a ticket on the first plane to Las Vegas, since Dela already knew that their daughter was in danger. Then, if Sarem had wanted to, we could have had the time spent waiting for Dela to arrive for Charles to tell Mac his side of the story. Possibly even finding out that Dela’s broken the spell over the phone so now he can tell the truth. Or at least doing the heavily implying thing I mentioned before. Maybe he tells Mac that magic is real, or maybe he just tells him Dela’s coming because her daughter is in the ER. Most parents would want to be there. Then Dela arrives and drops all pretense of keeping magic a secret from Mac because Zamboni’s life is more important.

            She never knew her father and I guess never had a replacement surrogate growing up, didn’t even bother watching some movies about that kind of bond for something to go on or basically didn’t want the effort of imagining these two relationships remotely realistically

            Yeah, this is pretty obvious to me. Full disclosure, my parents divorced when I was a baby and my father hasn’t contacted me at all in over thirty years. The ONLY way I’d consider forgiving him for that is if he’d been magically barred from contacting me but had been constantly fighting against it the entire time. And, you know, be an actually decent human being. /TMI

            The point I’m trying to make is that Zade goes to finally meet her dad for the first time and they are instantly BFF’s? No animosity? No hard feelings at all from her? Even if she knew going in he’d been whammied to stay away, I still find it hard to believe. And if she didn’t know, if she’d thought all this time that he had willingly ignored her existence, why go to him in the first place? Was it to confront him, finally meet him, a la What a Girl Wants? This would be the most likely scenario if Sarem had explored her character’s motivation at all. What would have been a good scene is Zimbabwe going to Charles’s home and confronting him there, him telling her about the spell, them having a heart-to-heart, and then him deciding that she should be part of his act and concocting the audition to give her hiring credence. As it’s written it feels like their first meeting is there at the audition. But, if that’s true, why is she getting an audition? There doesn’t seem to be anyone else auditioning that day, so it wasn’t open. Did someone else set this up?

            We’re never told why Dela did it, as far as I know, so presumably, it was just to keep Charles from chasing after her when she left and keeping him from going to court maybe?

            I thought it was implied, or at least I took it to be implied that she did it to keep the fact that Zippy is a half-breed secret. I’ve probably just read way too much between the lines and also basing it on the preview of the second book. It could quite well be for the reason you stated.

            March 11, 2018
    • I think it’s supposed to be ~cute~ because Zade is a carbon copy of her mom. But that just makes it even more y i k e s.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Kate
        Kate

        Yeah, that’s too Trumpian for my taste.

        March 7, 2018
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  4. Anon
    Anon

    The Lisa Hendricks thing reminds me of a self-published book written by someone I know, and I purchased it but didn’t review it because I think it’s categorically bad fanfic with the serial numbers filed off, but the people who DID give it five-star reviews consisted of:
    -the woman who copyedited it (a friend)
    -two other friends
    -her niece
    …and it’s a perfect example of why you can’t trust Amazon reviews. Also, I think when people use the phrase “who cares” as a rejoinder it’s because they are incapable of forming a convincing defense and they’re just throwing a tantrum instead.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      When I self-published my first book, my sister asked me why I didn’t tell any of my relatives about it, thus boost my sales and ratings. I texted back only two words.

      “Gay sex.”

      Her response: “Gotcha.”

      (The actual book was a series of short horror stories, but when the day comes for me to publish my epic erotic gay romance, I’d rather not have my 82 year old Mexican grandfather giving me grief over it.)

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
  5. Anon
    Anon

    “The story is unique …”

    Says someone who obviously never read a book or watched a play, TV show or movie ever before. That’s literally the only explanation. And if “depressing” is the basis for giving a book 1 star, we really need to rethink all the classics. I mean, Les Miserablés must be a negative 100 stars. Worst book ever!

    “My red velvet cloak fluttered as well, but since it was made of heavy velvet it only softly fluttered.”

    This may possibly be the worst sentence ever written in the history of sentences. It could be a contender in that old “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” contest.

    “At about this point in the illusion, I just barely began to notice that I was starting to feel not-so-great.”

    Close second.

    Bridget Jones’s Diary is the kind of book we like to call good … because it is a good book. 😉

    “A haunting melody.”

    Not cliché AT ALL.

    So … I’m not much into the over-the-top Vegas-type shows and magic stuff. Was that illusion really all that impressive or original?

    March 7, 2018
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    • Nasitha DovRenee Nellyren Blackshire
      Nasitha DovRenee Nellyren Blackshire

      At least “it was a dark and stormy night…” has a good set up if simplistic. The fluttering or lack of fluttering due to the outfit being velvet is such a random detail to include. I don’t think I really notice my own clothing flapping or fluttering around me unless it’s really windy and I’m worried my clothes are going to rip or they are tripping me or something is brushing against the back of my leg.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        That was just the name of the contest. The actual contest was to submit the worst possible book opening sentence you could come up with.

        March 7, 2018
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      • Athena
        Athena

        Describing her clothes moving to a ‘ma-jack’ or ordinary wind isn’t that surprising given the supposed drama of setting. I’m actually surprised she gave the scene that much depth… except for how narcissistically it’s written. It’s not about the scene, it’s about how awesome Zero looks in said scene. Just like the character’s introduction. “I don’t usually think this about myself, but I wish someone had been there to take my picture because I looked amazing!” I’m paraphrasing, but not by much. Also, there doesn’t seem to even be a description of her costume except for the red velvet cloak, so it sounds incredibly hokey without anything for context, made even more so by the flutter, but not too much flutter description.

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
    • Liza
      Liza

      Except that every one of those intentionally bad opening sentences are light years better than any single sentence in this entire trash heap of a “book.” If Lazy Stevens were to submit her entire book to the contest she wouldn’t have even one sentence worth an honorable mention.

      I would actually love to read the story for the 2017 winner:
      “The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elvs wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.” – Kat Russo, Loveland, CO

      Because how adorbs are those brown thumbed elvs?

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        And now I want to read that too because how are they bad at gardening while keeping flowers growing year round? How? They don’t specify that these are winter blossoms… The flowers haven’t died by then if they can cover them with actual blankets. XD

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
      • Jamie
        Jamie

        That book would be fucking hilarious.

        March 7, 2018
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      • Erin C
        Erin C

        That sounds hilarious, I’d also like to read that book.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Laina
      Laina

      I was unaware that dead black children was something that should be cheerful, personally.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure that “depressing” was the only true thing Lisa/Lani could imagine saying, but it never sunk in how that isn’t actually a criticism of the book, only the reality of its content. 😛

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Ah, so Lani is following the footsteps of the people who banned Anne Frank’s diary. Cause, “it’s a real downer.”

        March 10, 2018
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Are they going to ban Little Women and Johnny Tremaine? Spoiler alerts: Beth
          March dies, and Rab Silsbee is mortally wounded, although we don’t see him die in the book.

          March 10, 2018
          |Reply
    • Liz
      Liz

      It was a dark and stormy night but since it was more of a rain shower it wasn’t that stormy.

      March 7, 2018
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      • Catherine
        Catherine

        And there were quite a few streetlights so it wasn’t that dark either.

        March 8, 2018
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          And since it was six in the morning, it wasn’t really night anymore, unless it was Ohio in December, in which case sunrise is at 9AM.

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
  6. Ashley Shadowheart
    Ashley Shadowheart

    As a practicing Chaos Magician…… UUUUUUUUUGH. This chapter makes me want to pound my head into the table a little harder than then others.

    This is an outsider’s view of Chaos Magic, the view of someone who hears the word “chaos” and assumes the worst. Now, I’m not denying that some Chaos Magicians are like some Satanists – they’re walking the path more like performance art and to be “rebellious.” But Chaos Magic’s main philosophy is “do what works best for you.” It’s a freeform type of magic that doesn’t have a lot of set rules and rituals. So for someone to hurt themselves doing Chaos Magic…. they’re really doing magic wrong in general, not just Chaos Magic.

    -grumble grumble Chaos Magician Rant Over-

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      One must respect the chaos, embracing the fact that randomness can be beneficial as well as detrimental, and that (even for non-practitioners) it hurts less if you stop fighting it. *fistbump*

      March 7, 2018
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      • Ashley Shadowheart
        Ashley Shadowheart

        *fistbump* “Without Chaos there is no Change” as I like to say.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Fer
      Fer

      Well, Larva DID use magic to hurt and was irresponsable about it so younare right

      March 7, 2018
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      • Fer
        Fer

        * you are

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
      • Ashley Shadowheart
        Ashley Shadowheart

        Personally I feel it’s more the universe being like “hey bitch…. you need to get a handle on your powers.” Zurgelurgle never seems to spend time developing her powers or exploring them. Other than the occasional Tarot session, which she ignores the actual wisdom of her cards, as we’ve seen.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • Fer
          Fer

          That`s right, the cards even try to tell her about a great danger or something and she was like, “noooooo i wanna know with who am gonna have my happy ending.”

          March 7, 2018
          |Reply
    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      Yikes. I’m sorry for the comment I made in my own bit down below.

      I feel like Sarem should have better codified what chaos magic is for those of us who don’t know much about it.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ashley Shadowheart
        Ashley Shadowheart

        It’s all good! Chaos Magicians aren’t well known, we’re a fairly recent “school” of magic. Unfortunately, we do get a lot of bad press to the point I joke that we’re the “Satanists of Magic” because there are a LOT of New Age/ Pagan types that don’t like us because we do sometimes invoke more Chaotic energies in our practice.

        This “Chaos Magick” presented here is someone trying to find a new, more extreme “Dark Arts.” There are some practicioners of Chaos Magic who present themselves like that, but most of the time other witches are hesitant to work with us because of our philosophy of “do what works.”

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
  7. Gretel
    Gretel

    Funny how this “illusion” sounds, no, IS super boring and could be achieved with relatively easy tricks.

    But one thing’s just stuck in my head: Lasso kissed her own father on the lips. Yes, it’s a magical illusion but it’s safe to say that this avatar is a magical copy of her father. For Lamborghini it’s perfectly okay to tongue-fuck her dad but saying “hell” or talking about sex or literally anything else is super awkward and embarassing.

    Gonna say it, Lombardia has way more sexual and romantic tension with Chlamydia than ANY other guy in this story. Mind you, not good or interesting tension but holy shit those two should be fucking, I swear.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      H.
      E.
      Double.
      Hockeysticks.

      *simply dying with laughter*

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        In an old writing class, I was the only Asian person there. So while people were talking about my short story, everyone pointed out how weird it was that I, the petite, unassuming Asian girl, put curse words in the story. One person literally said, “I mean, I don’t even know you, but you don’t come across as someone who would use the word, ‘fuck’.” And I was like, ????? I’m in my twenties???????

        The only time I hear adults use “H-E-double hockeysticks” are when they’re around children. This is inside Zade’s head. Very mature.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • Rebecca
          Rebecca

          Right?? I was talking with my union rep the other day, and because we were supposed to be all professional and serious, I was like “can we swear?” and she’s like “omfg, fuck yes we can!”

          March 7, 2018
          |Reply
        • Indigo
          Indigo

          Sarem seems to be under the impression that in YA, nobody swears or uses even slightly bad language. Hence the bar scene where a supposedly tough macho man calls someone else a jerkface, and this triggers an epic brawl.

          March 7, 2018
          |Reply
          • Thera Pitts
            Thera Pitts

            Angie Thomas can’t relate, her book is loaded with swears. It’s also excellent, so again, Angie Thomas can’t relate.

            March 8, 2018
      • Chris
        Chris

        Noooooo for fuck’s sake, I JUST got that. (I’m not English.) IT ACTUALLY SAYS- No fucking way. Nooooo aaaargh (*smothering myself in my pillow)

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • MayaB
          MayaB

          ^Describes my reaction surprisingly accurately. 😀

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
    • Jen
      Jen

      I was reading another chapter by chapter, review, of this book and up until they mentioned he was her dad, I thought he WAS supposed to be a love interest.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yeah, Charles is the one who Zade interacts with the most, besides Mac. I suspect Charles interacted with her more in the script, during the few scenes that were repurposed for Jackson, plus most of the filler wasn’t in the way to distract from this, and he knows the most about her. Sarem went out of her way to get that twist. May I ask what your opinion of the reveal was?

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
  8. Lily
    Lily

    I woke up this morning feeling pretty smart, but after reading Zanelicious’ prose I feel remarkably “most” stupid.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  9. Jen
    Jen

    ‘The chapters being based off of tarot cards is also fun…’
    What book is the reviewer reading? Cause nothing I’ve seen from these recaps/sporkings ever suggested the characters were BASED on tarot cards (that actually sounds like it would be interesting)

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Jen
      Jen

      Oh CHAPTERS

      fuck I’m too tired apparently, misreading ‘chapters’ as ‘characters’
      RIP me

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Frankly, the book might be more interesting if she’d tried to do that with the characters. 😛

        But get some rest and get back to roasting after that. XD

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jen
          Jen

          More like I don’t think my brain had fully woken up haha. I suddenly realized as I hit post that it said chapters not characters.

          Though my original post does sort of stand. The chapters are hardly based on the tarot cards, just named after them. As far as I can tell none of them really have anything to do with the card they’re named after.

          That said, off the top of my head I’ve only seen one thing that had characters based on tarot cards (the Major Arcana specifically). And they were minor characters and we only really saw a handful of them(then again it wasn’t a particularly long series so, that’s probably why).

          March 7, 2018
          |Reply
    • Alex Silvers
      Alex Silvers

      …I also thought it said characters, haha. Though in my defense I have never seen any of these chapters being particularly reflective of the cards they’re supposed to be based on; maybe a few points here and there. So to me it’s just as likely the characters are based off of the tarot.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  10. Fer
    Fer

    Something that has been bother me since chapter five or six is, apart from everything that I wrote, the feeling that “The Clara Thing” is… I don`t know how to call it so I`m going to describe it. This doesn`t even feel like Clara is one or all the women that larva thinks had stolen her dreams and this is her revenge, it feels like is somebody that everyone hates and because she wants to be popular she hates her too despite not to know her. Like if Clara is a character in a show and a lot of people hates her and larva just took her so those people will like the book, but doesn`t know anything abou the show or why they hate Clara or if she has fans and just roll with the hate train. I just can thing one show that could aply to this so I`m praying to be wrong in this.

    As for the chapter I have a doubt: I remember that Dela told It that her father was mortal, therefore someone who wasn`t “majikal”, so she lie to her daugther or Charles knows but do not have magic? Or I was drunk? I hope is the last one.

    And about she kissing a young version of her father… I read Julliette long time ago so I am just gonna think that she has daddy issues.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I think Jenny missed that detail or she’s winding up for a serious criticism of how stupid the big reveal is when Dela mentions that Zade’s father is mortal. Also, it really is terrible for Charles to just let his daughter handle strange magic without any supposed safeguard behind the scenes who can help her if it goes wrong. I’m assuming Zeb is magic, even though this is never explicitly stated, but without confirmation, it’s possible no one could assist Zade in the case of a magical emergency so she’s putting the audience in very real danger, as well as herself. It’s so many levels of idiocy. 🙁

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Fer
        Fer

        I was hopping I was drunk, but is good to know I was right.

        And yeah, they are not the best parents for anyone, let alone larva, but her idiocy has to come from somewhere so…

        Oh god, I wish to be wrong but the damn second book is going to be ANOTHER love triangle with a magical boy isn`t it?

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
  11. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    That “illusion” was just … what? Thinking about it makes my head hurt. I, too, would reallllly like to know why Zasparilla thinks it’s normal to make out with a younger version of her father. Her father. And that section where she repeated almost exactly the same with a few extra words! OMG.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  12. Did anyone else ever read those books when you were kids that were fairytales told from the perspective of secondary characters? I remember specifically one that was cinderella told from the perspective as one of the step sisters, but I’m sure it was part of a larger series.

    Anyway, how long till handbook for mortals moves into the public domain and I can write Sophie’s version of this story?

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Oh, I remember the stepsiter story, it wasn’t actually that bad of a movie…at least when I was a kid. The older stepsister was a painter from what I remember and she actually didn’t give damn about the prince because she was in love with the guy who helped her painting? Kinda her totor-ish? I actually found THAT romance much more interesting, because well…they spend time together doing their hobby and bonding and it was cute from what I remember of it…but yeah Sophie’s point of view would be GREAT, esp from 3rd person where we would all discover that this things are all in Lanzu’s head. Like SHE was the abuser and she was the bitch and the one who was nasty to people and people didn’t actually like her that much, but since she’s a narcist and compulsive liar who needs to look good she wrote a book flipping everything 180 degrees. We could actually make a book of EVERYONE elses POV like Asioaf, where we follow all characters and see all the events how they really happened. Landzu was the villian all along! Lambo girl who ‘attacked’ her was the good guy who tried to stop her and SHE was the bullied shy girl XSD

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Andie Begins
        Andie Begins

        Honestly that hypothetical book, by virtue of having any thought put into it whatsoever, would be so far removed from Handbook for Zortals that it would probably be unrecognizable as ripping off the original. It wouldn’t even be as egregious as when when E L James did it.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Fer
      Fer

      Wicked counts as one of those? I remember that the autor also write something like that, Cinderella`s stepsister side of the story.

      That would be awesome, and if that happened I wannawrite about Clara.

      About Sofia, I think someone is already writting a fanfic. Claribel Ortega if I remember right.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Sigyn Wisch
        Sigyn Wisch

        Oh yes, Gregory Maguire is fantastic <3

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      You don’t need this book to be in the public domain. Just change the names of the characters and write them properly, then no one will be the wiser. Even if Lani Sarem tries to fuss about suing, she can’t do anything, because the plotline is so basic and you’d chop out most of the garbage filler. You’d also have to add a lot of fresh content to keep it interesting, plus expose what was really happening. Shit, just make the camping scene good, with details and more of a purpose, and people might claim Lani Sarem stole your work for her shitty fanfic. Haha better yet, put in “all resemblance to persons, living or dead, is a coincidence” and who can say you weren’t simply writing about Lani Sarem instead of Zade Whatever? She’d be more inspiring anyway. XD

      The icing on the cake? Make your villain any damned thing you want. She can be a witch or a demon. She could be an evil Cthonic god. She could be a rakshasa or an ogress. She could be a wicked faerie. It’s not like you’re limited by what she does after all. She could be the resurrection of Circe or a servant of the Greek Goddess Hera if you wanted. She could be a fucking centaur without magic; she just kicks people in the head like a stubborn mule and performs dressage to music (with lyrics now because the Olympics changed that rule recently) and she’s performing in a magic show in Las Vegas because of nepotism. Haha. She could be a hellhound pretending to be a sweet puppy when she’s actually trying to drag Charles to his contract with Mephistopheles but no one believes the dog is actually psychic at first. It’s not as if she has to be humanoid; just swap everything with a dog, remove the intimacy for licks on the face, and tell me it doesn’t work. 😉

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • Thera Pitts
      Thera Pitts

      I think LaFayette has to be dead for seventy years. Although you could just pull a Fifty Shades and change all of the names.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  13. Melissa
    Melissa

    I’ve never been to a magic show or anything, but it’s really odd to me that the magician is going ‘This is a fake, not real illusion and we don’t know if we can pull it off because it’s so dangerous!!!!!!” instead of including the audience in the fantasy. When I see a movie or read a book, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief a lot, (Especially since I like surrealism and generally believe that the way something makes you feel can be more important than what is physically happening or the logic of the details) so. . . wtf? That’s like seeing a character die in a movie and the actor sitting up and saying “don’t worry this is pretend”. Pardon me if magic shows are this transparent and I just don’t get it.
    Charles’ dialogue in general is just annoying. With the music and the singing, his narration past an introduction is ruining the show. If he were reading out a poem or story for effect, it would be different, but it’s just babble.

    Aside from that: The possible incest fantasy has come up, but my gripe is more with that the apple boy is implied to be a teenager. He’s not a real boy, sure, and I don’t know how old Zade is supposed to be, so there’s some but not much leeway there, but in planning the illusion, she chose to conjure up and kiss a person she’d describe as looking like a teenager. After the lemonade debacle, the continued desired attention from teen boys is raising flags. Were you unpopular in high school, Lani? Are you trying to get back at someone? I hope you don’t pursue teen boys, Lani.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      Zade was almost 25 at the beginning of the story and is possibly actually 25 now. Yeah, that’s gross.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Lani Sarem is a year older than me, born on November 11, 1981, so she’s 36.

        https://www.facebook.com/pg/LaniSarem/about/?ref=page_internal

        I didn’t even think about the teenage aspect but that does make two of them… One of whom is her dad which means Zade has seen pictures of him as a teen and thought “MMmm-mmm! I wanna snog that.” ;P

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
  14. Mel
    Mel

    What happened in Lani’s life to make her this way? She just seems so sad and desperate. It’s really pathetic.

    On top of that, I’ve been trying to understand what is so impressive about this illusion and why it seems so boring and part of it is that Lani is a horrible narrator but the other part is that it isn’t that spectacular as “real magic” at all. As an illusion, pulling this off would be pretty cool and an accident still could have happened in all of that to the point that this book could have easily just been about a girl reconnecting with her father at a magic show and learning to become an illusionist. No magic is needed for any of this. There are no stakes.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Also, the way it’s written is more of a performance piece than a true illusion. No one is wondering how she did it. Most people would assume trap doors and barrels of hidden fruit are involved. This is Cirque du Soleil, not David Copperfield, so it’s downright weird at that.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        “This is Cirque du Soleil, not David Copperfield”

        This is what I was thinking through the whole thing. It doesn’t at all feel like a magic show. It feels like an interesting performance piece, a creative retelling of Adam and Eve. With a guitar in there for… reasons. Maybe showing that man doesn’t just destroy (the cutting down of the tree) he can also create music. But whatever. Point is it’s primarily a stage play that Cirque could make amazing, not a magic show that makes you wonder how it’s done. I mean, Jenny outlined that at the end, saying that it all could have easily been done with technical means, and the audience is going to think the same thing.

        But to be fair that’s what her initial illusion was too. She even pointed it out in the actual book, that the audience would assume trap door, admitting that it was only impressive because the crew knew there was no trap door there, and therefore had no idea how it could have been done. But anyone paying to come in would immediately guess ‘trap door’ and instantly remove all suspension of disbelief they came in with. And by doing that it makes all the rest of the acts feel less impressive too, because one obviously fake bit primes you to see all the rest as fake. So the whole act is now just a performance piece dressed up as a magic show that for some reason we’re supposed to believe the audience eats up.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • the-great-dragon
          the-great-dragon

          This is exactly what I was thinking as I was reading. It honestly reminded me of, like, a reduced, rip-off version of Eurydice, since the play deals a lot with water and surreal elements.

          The only thing about this that was illusionary was the disappearing-reappearing stuff and the tree (which genuinely confounds me.) But disappearing acts are common enough in magic that I’d feel stale after all of Charles Spankman’s build-up.

          It’s way more in the vein of being a play, not a magic trick, which just makes Zade seem like a cheap, one-person alternative to a tech and stage crew.

          March 16, 2018
          |Reply
          • the-great-dragon
            the-great-dragon

            …um, Spellman*

            March 16, 2018
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      Forget “show don’t tell” – Sarem somehow manages to be constantly telling without actually explaining anything.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • AJ
      AJ

      If I am remembering correctly somewhere in the slew of articles and interviews since this train wreck started, she talked about how she tried out for stuff and never got the lead or some crap like that. It’s really deeply rooted in her childhood if that’s the case, and it’s festered and boiled until it’s come to this.

      She just wants to be the star and the center of attention so badly, that she’s willing to do anything to get what she wants. It’s very very sad. I *almost* wish she had hired a PR person to keep her from screwing up and digging herself deeper but noooooope. She’s hellbent on doing it all herself. She has zero common sense, is completely out of touch with basic decency, and it’s the most fantastic dumpster fire I have ever seen. Fantastic as in unbelievable in nature.

      As for the grand illustrious bullshit illusion she’s written for herself to be the fabulous star of, it’s indeed the most mundane thing ever. None of it is impressive whatsoever. I’m more impressed by everything before I even get to the coat check at the Magic Castle.

      Zagnut however– Creepy? Yes. I’d be interested in hearing what a psychologist has to say about everything.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • I never got a lead role either. I always knew I was the Nurse and never Juliet. But the difference is that I always saw *myself* that way. I always found side characters more interesting than the main character.

        I know what I do well, and what I do well is character parts.

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I always found side characters more interesting than the main character.

          I’ve never done theatre, but this tends to be a trend in general. Secondary characters get the chance to break the mold, develop in more interesting ways, and cater to more distinctive ideas than the leads do. There are a variety of main characters but by their very nature, they tend to follow certain forms based on their function as the protagonist.

          Zani sort of avoids this but not intentionally and she clearly wants to be the hero even though she’s hardly heroic.

          And it is kind of condescending in retrospect for someone to go “I deserve the lead!” when other roles are just as good, if not better, depending on circumstances and personal preferences. I seriously think Lani Sarem just needs to join a reality TV show because I think that’s what she’d actually be good at. I don’t even know why she wants to be “taken seriously” or why she really wants to star in a movie specifically when plays are considered much more classy and TV roles are probably more lucrative if they end up ongoing. 😛

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            Yup, just because Harry is the main character doesn’t mean Hermione or Ron were loved less. I just finished watching Coco, and all the secondary customers were just as engaging and important to the plot.

            March 8, 2018
  15. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “Again, they’ve been doing this for months and she’s never gotten anything wrong? She’s done it exactly right every single time? She has no idea what happens if you don’t get it perfectly right every single time?”
    *******************************************************
    This woman has not only not done anything Olympic, she hasn’t even talked to someone who competed in Jr. High sports. To use an analogy: let’s say you’re doing a back somi in gymnastics. Over-rotate and you land on your back or your butt. Under-rotate and you land on your face. You’d probably work it on a trampoline or a springboard runway before trying it on a flat mat or the beam. Even after you get it right for the first time, there will be occasions where you get it wrong, although you get better at keeping your mistakes embarrassing rather than dangerous. I’m sure there are equivalents in skating, which Lani claims to have done.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Yeah, I was going to add the figure skating thing while reading your comment. Like, I realize this is ~*majikal*~ Lani we’re talking about, but seriously. You can step up into a jump PERFECTLY every time five times in a row, then get in front of people and choke the fuck out of it. She claims to have been a competitive figure skater, but she doesn’t know this? Anyone who has ever been involved in theater or a sport or anything that involves practicing privately THEN getting in front of an audience knows that good rehearsals/training don’t guarantee perfection because nerves and distraction in front of an audience are a variable.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Andie Begins
        Andie Begins

        Maybe this is bugging me just because the Olympics just happened, but – Olympic-level athletes get up to compete and land on their butts sometimes. In the Olympics! They’re the best in the world and they’re practiced for thousands of hours and performed in front of a crowd hundreds of times, maybe even in the Olympics previously, and they *still* mess up sometimes.

        March 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I don’t usually watch the Olympics but I’ve watched several seasons of Ninja Warrior and that’s really grueling. You feel so bad for the people who fail, especially when they’re close, but that makes it clearer how downright amazing the people who actually complete the course are (sometimes no one or only one person makes it to the end) and even they can’t claim victory every year. The courses change up a bit each time but still… the serious competitors train really hard year round and they know it’s an ordeal but they just enjoy proving themselves capable of such incredible strength and agility.

          And that’s all physical feats meant to impress and struggle against.

          It’s really hard to pity Zani when the only rehearsal we’ve seen was Charles getting Zeb to fill in for him so he could see how it looked in the seats. He only cared how it looked, not if he was good at it, and she encapsulates that same ideal. She’s also barely concerned with safety and she supposedly lets herself loose in ordinary circumstances on innocent bystanders. And Zeb’s cautionary “You’re not taking this seriously” comes off as a way for Zani to sound as if she’s more willing than she is able to put in the work. Oh, look, she addressed the concerns, now they can fade away. Hur hur! No, she only cared how it looked as evidenced by her struggling through what seemed like a perfect performance. Of course, her adoring fans could never know that she makes mistakes lol and she gets everything right the first time ever. Even if you consider Spellman’s dumb spiel as patter to get people in the mood, it’s still very telling of their mindset.

          And I can’t help thinking that Zani was fine and only faking her stupid coma because the whole thing is so much garbage. Maybe that wasn’t even her act, it’s not as if anyone else has seen it except maybe Charles but we didn’t get his comment because that’d confirm she was up to something. Or maybe she flat-lined in the middle of the action on stage but she wiped their memories to hide her fuckup? It’s just funny how even her mistakes can’t be acknowledged in a situation where that would be entirely understandable.

          I mean, she doesn’t know how to handle her mistakes in real life so I’m not sure why I’m surprised. I don’t think she’s ever trained herself at anything either because skills are the same even if they’re more laid-back. I think she loves living within the Dunning-Kruger effect. XD

          https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/11/18/16670576/dunning-kruger-effect-video

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
  16. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Another bolt of lightning struck the stage, and then an apple tree began to grow quickly and high out of the sand, with apples already heavy on its branches. I heard the audience gasp again. (The apple tree was my idea and I thought it was a great part of the illusion, so their gasp gave me a good boost.) The tree branches began to rust and move before a crack sounded as one of the limbs at the top fell and a handsome young man suddenly tumbled out of the tree and landed at Charles’s feet.
    ********************************************************************
    Somebody’s watched the video for No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” way too many times.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  17. The Inconstant Gardener
    The Inconstant Gardener

    Thanks for pointing out that there were, in fact, quite a lot of creation ideas being expressed in the illusion which I hadn’t spotted. Instead, i had started to find it confusing then began to feel baffled about what the H E double-hockey-sticks was going on.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  18. TLHB
    TLHB

    I’m a self-published author, who considers herself lucky if she sells one book a month. Since I was a child I’ve dreamed of seeing my books in bookstores -and who knows, maybe that will still happen one day. Until I magically get a massive marketing budget, getting noticed will take some time.

    But as desperate as I am for people to find my books and read them, I couldn’t live with myself if I went out and ‘bought’ reviews. I will stand or fall based on the strength of my writing, not how many fake reviews I can get.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      *ahem* If it’s not too doxxing, I would like a link to your books, please.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      I think I hit Jenny’s spam filters, so apologies if a similar comment shows up: may we have a link, please, if it’s not too d*ox*xin*g?

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • AJ
      AJ

      I’m interested too!

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Me three. I debated asking because I realize that might be a bit nerve-wracking. I wouldn’t leave a review just to boost your stuff on Amazon though I’m sure your work deserves it more than H4M ever did. 🙂

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  19. Anon
    Anon

    I think the glass statue bit is because when lightning strikes sand it fuses into glass. I wouldn’t have expected Lani to have included an actual science-based detail, but there you go.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    Like, how dramatic is that audience member that lightning during a thunderstorm portion of a theatrical presentation would cause them to scream?
    ^ to be ENTIRELY fair, maybe they have an exaggerated startle response?

    Zelda listens to him and Sofia singing together and thinks how beautiful Sofia’s voice is, but Zink can’t really enjoy it because she’s in horrible pain through this entire section.
    ^ Two points. Firstly, of course she was distracted from Sofia’s talent, because Znorkle wasn’t the center of attention. Secondly, OH GEE, *MAYBE* USING CHAOS MAJIQUECK WAS A HORRIBLE FUCKING IDEA!

    They probably could have even found a carbon-copy of her dad for her to make out with on stage
    ^ oh EW. I mean, I understand that’s a theme in the story, but do we really need to read about Sarem’s Elektra complex? Yuck.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  21. Amy
    Amy

    Um… why include the small detail about the teenager looking like a young Charles? Who is this guy, where did he come from, was he picked specifically cause he looked like a young Han Solo? In later chapters we’ll have a flashback to young Charles, so in the movie are they planning to use the same actor? That sounds confusing. And because the magicK show revolves around the concept of creation, Adam and Eve, I was under the assumption the kid was naked or mostly naked.

    A nearly forty year old woman is gonna kiss an underage, half-naked teenager who looks like her dad. I foresee no problems here.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Even if you consider that Zani is supposed to be 25, her kissing a teenager is still nasty. Add to it the fact that this guy looks like her dad…*shudders*

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • AJ
        AJ

        Best part— she is ABSOLUTELY set on playing this role herself, so this is a 36+ year old woman, pretending to be 24-25, and THEN kissing a teenager that looks like her father on stage.

        *shuddering intensifies*

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
        • AJ
          AJ

          edit: THAT is the best part.

          Im also trying to picture how Sofia would be portrayed. If Lani wrote this for herself to be considered so beautiful men are falling over, I have no clue what Lani-in-control-of-casting would result in Sofia looking like.

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Well, Sofia can’t be ugly or it’d be too obvious. Lani has to show up an actual pretty woman.

            March 8, 2018
        • Dove
          Dove

          I thought it over and I don’t think it’s even all that. Does this faux human have a say in whether or not it gets kissed? Is it alive? Has she created this teenager before? It could be a magjickal illusion, a pure sensory holographic creation without a mind that Zorg is moving around like a puppet, but is that better or worse than it being alive? Is it created using her dad’s memories or did her dad have a photo that she looked at? Does he see the resemblance? I just have so many questions now. She didn’t explain jackshit but… creating a human being should be kind of a big deal?

          Zani popped out a teenager from her tree cooter in front of an audience.

          This is worse than the kid at the hotdog stand for so many reasons.

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            Had Lani just wrote “an actor” comes out to play the part of Adam, I don’t think we’ll be angsting about this so much. But because Lani wrote this strange little detail of him looking like Charles, it comes off as something important that the audience needed to be aware of.

            Chekov’s gun, Lani. Read up on it.

            March 8, 2018
    • Athena
      Athena

      The part that bothers me the most is that Zero specifically mentions that the theater audience wouldn’t get that it’s a younger version of Charles. So, she made a teenage doppelganger of her father and kissed him on stage for what? The lulz? If the audience doesn’t know him from Adam (pun intended), then there’s no reason he couldn’t have been anyone else, there’s no shock value in having him look like Charles. She’s only making him look like Charles for herself.

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        She’s only making him look like Charles for herself.

        Exactly. Which is why I personally think she has a daddy-daughter incest kink that she’s unwilling to admit to. I frankly wouldn’t mind, hell it might be interesting, but she’s way too twee to go for broke. In the long run, maybe we’re better off. We’ve already seen an excellent comment showing us how her sex scenes would play out and no one really needs those. Adding a roleplay fetish might be too much for her? XD

        Or maybe she was trying to… dig deeper into her “Twist” right there? Ehhh… I mean, she’s going to reveal it really soon so I don’t know if that would be worth the supposed payoff. I guess it could be an homage to her mother’s relationship with Charles, but he was already in his twenties when he met Dela, I think… if I’m remembering correctly. Eh. We’ll see soon.

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          Thinking about it more, there’s a good chance that Charles is so narcissistic that he decided it had to be him in the act, not just narrating. But, if that were the case, it would have been nice if that was mentioned, perhaps even been the creepy part instead of the statue. Though, if it was Charles’s idea, I would think that he would rather the replica of him be at least in his early thirties so the audience would recognize who it was supposed to be so there would be the “how’d they do that?” shock value. There’s a chance that Charles is just narcissistic enough to need to be a star in the action, but not so much as to need the audience accolades for it, but I highly doubt it given how he’s portrayed in the writing.

          March 10, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            Question: You pointed something out to me. Considering this is Charles’s show, his theatre, his name pushing the ads, does it makes sense for the final big act of the show to NOT showcast him? I have never gone to a big Las Vegas show so I don’t know how it works, but this strikes me as odd. If I’m paying $50 to see David Copperfield, I wanna see goddamn David Copperfield, not this child I never heard of.

            March 10, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            Amy, I’ve actually wondered that myself. I don’t know how stuff like this goes, but there’s a possibility that Charles (who would probably at least be pushing 50 at this point) has moved on to a more directorial position in the show and the other acts have his “seal of approval”. But, yeah, I’d think the final big act of the show would showcase him as more than just the narrator.

            March 10, 2018
  22. Sam
    Sam

    And to think, “The Prestige” conjured so much believable drama over an illusion that’s just…transporting a man across stage. The real magic was good writing all along!

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  23. I about 1000% certain that neither Lazi nor her ‘friend and second mom’ have read THUG. If they had, surely even THEIR colossal egos would recognise Angie Thomas’ writing is so far superior to Lazi’s that their behaviour is exposed for the ridiculous ego trip it is.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      The irony is, I’m pretty sure that neither Lazi nor her second mom has read H4M either. XD

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
  24. Jo
    Jo

    All her majiiiick nonsense would have way more weight, and I’d be far more invested in potential consequences, if we’d had any sort of structure or rules or anything establishing how it works or what the limits are :U

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, we just have to take her word for it that she doesn’t use chaos majick all the damn time since she hasn’t yet explained how the standard magickal schpells work (and I don’t recall if she ever does.) After some prior comments, I think she needs someone to rile up so she can use their chaotic emotions as a battery or something else dumb. She describes using Mac as an anchor eventually but I don’t think she really tells us how that works either. If she’s in a metaphorical boat, how does going adrift make her collapse into a coma and bleed everywhere? Unless her chosen man is more like a lightning rod? I honestly forget what cringy metaphor/simile was used; it might’ve been that instead.

      But yeah, it’s kind of like having the whole world at stake. It sounds pretty terrible but it’s actually kind of hard to fathom and it’s such an extreme that either it can’t actually happen, and thus we know it won’t, or we need lesser stakes to give us some framework to focus on. And of course, it’s just not interesting if we know almost nothing about how it would work.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Elizabeth
        Elizabeth

        If she’s a metaphorical boat, how does going adrift make her collapse into a coma and bleed everywhere?

        That’s what I read the first time. Much better question 😀

        March 18, 2018
        |Reply
  25. bamfina
    bamfina

    ‘Olympic Magician’ – laughing my ass off – Lannickin, this should be your twitter handle. And yes, we all know you’re still reading.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      At least that handle wouldn’t have a racial slur in it.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  26. June
    June

    Now that I’ve actually read “The Hate U Give,” I’m WAY madder about all of this nonsense. That book was absolutely phenomenal. My cat could crap out something better than “Handbook for Mortals.” It doesn’t even deserve to share a bookshelf with “The Hate U Give,” much less the #1 spot on the best seller list.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • June
      June

      Also, the Fillory reference made me LOL. I would love someone to write a fanfic where Zladi goes to Fillory and just gets absolutely wrecked by it.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Haven’t read THUG yet, but I admit that after the gargantuan evil of Cathy, Sarem looks like just a petty little middle school wanna-be. Given the hours of joy I’ve experienced while reading Jenny’s sporkfest and other TroutVerse commenters’ riffs, I’m feeling almost affectionate.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • I finally got around to reading it last yesterday, and fuck it was hard to read. Literally, because I’m a crier. It’s definitely going to be a classic. Long after everyone’s forgotten about HfM, The Hate U Give will probably be taught in schools.

      That’s partially why Lisa Hendricks’ 1-star review is so hilarious to me. It’s the most petty, pathetic fuck you imaginable that says way more about who she is than either of the books she’s reviewing.

      March 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I keep looking at “Hate” in the book store when I go and thinking I want to read it, but some books just rip me open and I’m afraid of it.

      I just read “Sing, Unburied, Sing” and it was a ROUGH one. I don’t know if I can go through that again …

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • June
        June

        It’s not an easy read, but it’s a great one. I agree with Not-Sarem that it’ll end up being taught in schools — or it should, at least. I would definitely teach it if I taught older kids.

        But yeah, you’ll probably cry. I did a few times. 🙁

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
  27. I DO have to thank this book for one thing (hear me out).

    I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month for years but never seemed to get the motivation to edit one of my novels. I never felt they were good enough. Because of how dreadful this book is, I decided to take another look at my own writing. The one I re-read passed the test. It wasn’t “Handbook for Mortals” bad, instead, it actually read rather well.

    Thank you Lani. In your horrible words, I have found newfound confidence.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • the-great-dragon
      the-great-dragon

      It’s been my experience that if I look back at my writing weeks/months later, it’s almost always better than I remembered it being. It usually reads pretty well. A lot of times, I’ll hit parts where I’m like “I wrote this? Me? Are you sure?”

      March 16, 2018
      |Reply
  28. Neth Smiley
    Neth Smiley

    That actually sounds like a cool illusion–the creation theme part, at least. I’d like to see that. What if it had been part of a “let’s put on a show” kind of plot, and they all had to work together to understand that the magic of the show brings them closer, into a working alliance/partnership?

    Oh well…

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  29. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    “I wouldn’t be “lost forever” as Charles put it (that was there for dramatic flare)”

    It’s ‘Flair’ not ‘Flare’, Lanie. If three editors actually looked at your book, you should sue them for failure to provide services.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      See also: volatile (twice).

      It’s volatile, Zorro. A spell checker should have picked that up, never mind an editor or three.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        My autocorrect evidently did a better job than Lansoprazole could. “Volitile” was what I typed.

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Just like it’s ‘bear’ not ‘bare’
        ‘Cheek’ not ‘check’

        Personally I don’t mind mistake like this because hey, English is hard and words be crazy. Things happen. BUT with Lani insisting the books don’t need to be improved cause it was looked over by three editors, AND believing without a doubt this book deserves the #1 spot despite all the grammar mistakes is horses*it.

        When I make mistakes like that I antagonize over it. I know the difference between affect and effect. I know the difference between their, there, and they’re. Conscious and conscience. Loose and lose. And when I make mistakes like that, I feel stupid and silly and young. Had someone pointed out to me I wrote in the wrong word (and people have) I cringe internally, berating myself because unlike Lani, I take my craft seriously and I am always trying to improve myself. But alas, all she cares about is fame, money and her silly movie.

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jane Eyre
          Jane Eyre

          Those are types of mistakes I make in writing when it comes to spelling but a))English is NOT my native language and b)I have dysgraphia/lexia, so I tend to make mistakes bc I have learning difficulty but the thing is…I’m aware of it and I try to proofread things, or ask people to beta my fics or point out mistakes when they read them(because I sometimes miss something even after reading it myself).

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
  30. Erin C
    Erin C

    I would love to see Zade meet High Queen Margo.

    The practical aspects have been bugging me this whole time. For her normal illusion apparently no one has even noticed that it should be impossible, despite her performing it for months. This is that x 1000 with all the moving parts people and things appearing and disappearing. People should notice that none of this stuff was backstage or should be doable with the way the stage is set up.

    Way to convince your not boyfriend that you’re not into your dad by making out with Dad’s magic teen clone. Also, that is pretty gross even without the two not boyfriends.

    There is so much dumb pointless description like the variations on flutter intensity of her clothing, but its so lacking in the details we need. How is the stage set up? How does magic even work? If she doesn’t use chaos magic ordinarily, what does she use and how do they differ?

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  31. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    Let me be the first to say it (in this week’s recap, at least):

    Charles Spellman is a terrible boss, and a lousy dad.

    Chucky knows that Zuul uses magj-ick in her act. I re-read the Chapter 1 recap, and the text strongly suggests that Chucky had a one-on-one with his new act, learned her secrets and agreed to keep them, so Chuck knows something about this whole “magj-ick” thing

    Chuck has been working closely on the new illusion. That would suggest that the Chuckster might know it involves (ugh) “Chaos Magjick”, and that in turn implies that he might know the risks involved. And yet this new illusion doesn’t just use a little of a type of magic he probably knows I-Heart-Zuckabees hasn’t mastered. No, it has Zorba creating sand, and a lightning bolt, and a glass statue, and a tree, and a wardrobe, and a guitar, and lots of apples, and a simulacrum of young Chuck.

    Does he treat all of his employees like this?

    “So I know how to handle a chainsaw a little…”

    “Great! Let’s have you do a bit where you’re carving ice sculptures!”

    “OK, I could probably carve a small-”

    “Three of them! At once!”

    “Well, I mean…”

    “And you’re juggling the chainsaw! No, chainsaws!

    “Uh, actually I don’t-”

    “Yeah, you’ll have to throw them really high in the air so you can carve away with one before the other two come back down!”

    “No, that’s really not-”

    “Not ice! We’ll have pressed sawdust blocks, so you can carve faster!”

    “OK, that would help me-”

    “And you’ll be over a huge pit of fire so the sawdust will cause bursts of flame to shoot up while you’re-”

    “You know what? You’re going to get someone killed, but it’s not going to be me. See ya!”

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • There’s no ‘like’ button here so I would just like to let you know that I lol’.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • Nocturnal Queen
      Nocturnal Queen

      My pet theory is that Sofia is there spying and gathering information about Charles for the union or the police but went too deep when she started fucking him just to get more info. The entire way Charles is running his business is so shady that I would not be surprised if it’s one of those mob owned places. Perhaps Sofia is an undercover cop. It’s also why she became so angry when Zade showed up. Not because she was actually jealous but because she was afraid of losing the opportunity to gather info directly from Charles. That would also explain her mysterious accident. Mac is in on it with Charles since he is obviously getting preferential treatment.

      About Charles being a bad father, it gets even worse later in the book (if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now) when we find out that Charles has a history of using his daughter for magic stuff. He was going to put his small kid on stage to do real magicccccckkkk even though magic is dangerous.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cris
        Cris

        Actually Sofia being an undercover cop would be a really interesting story.

        March 10, 2018
        |Reply
  32. Mydog'sPA
    Mydog'sPA

    Yup. Yugo. Used one, to boot. But with this one at least we can see the rust form the bubbles under the paint as we watch. (It’s more exciting, too)

    Heads up to Jen in Chapter 16: There’s no airport at Woodbury, TN. There is one at McMinnville, (Warren County Memorial, designation KRNC, with a barely decent 5000 foot runway for a jet this size) but it’s in the opposite direction on the southeast side of Centertown whereas Woodbury is northwest.) See aviation map at http://vfrmap.com/?type=vfrc&lat=35.699&lon=-85.844&zoom=10 Airport details at https://www.airnav.com/airport/KRNC It’s about 1650 miles from Vegas, so a midsized bizjet like a Lear 45 or Citation III could get there in 3 1/4 hours, plus the two hour time difference, so as long as they’re wheels up by midnight LAS time they could be at KRNC by 6 AM. But that’s assuming 1) the plane is tanked up and ready to go and 2) the pilot is rested and ready to go on the red-eye flight.

    FYI, you can publish this in this chapter or wait for Chapter 16.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  33. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    I watched Scream Queens for the first time last night and realized that Zuzu is Chanel. Inconvenienced by people dying/almost dying? Check. Thinks she’s better than other girls? Check. Mean and petty? Check. However, the audience is expected to hate Chanel, but this book wants us to “look up to” the snooty mean girl.

    And like Ashley said, Lulu has no idea what chaos magic is.

    March 7, 2018
    |Reply
  34. Rachel O'Riley
    Rachel O'Riley

    Theater is my passion, and a good backstage story delights me. I’m a (stage) magic fan and have very fond memories of the years I was a practicing pagan.

    So, how is it a book containing all these elements is the most completely boring thing I’ve ever read?

    Also, Zade is a “role model”???? THE HECK? She never *does* anything! She has a “talent” she was born with — no agency there. She is the adored object of everyone’s gaze just by breathing — what could a young woman seeking a model get out of that?? Put a few streaks of dye in your hair, cock tease two men for months on end, let your tantrums hurt innocent people, marinate on your own inane inner dialogue instead of engaging with other people and the world around you, and you too can be….what? A boring, boring cypher girl?

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
  35. Kate
    Kate

    “Somehow I managed to walk–or more like drag–my body the five feet or so over to Zeb–the only person I was in arm’s length of reaching.”

    She had 5 foot long arms! Is this a side effect of mahgjickx? Dangerous stuff indeed.

    Also, fillory ftw. Now that’s how you do magical stories with edgy 20-somethings. Can we sic Alice and Cady on LaZe?

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
  36. Ash
    Ash

    Lani Sarem’s utter incompetence is my favorite thing about this whole mess. She keeps trying and trying, but she cant manage any of it without being immediately caught. It’s so glorious watching every move blow up in her face.

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      I liken this novel to a used Yugo where one can actually watch the rust form under the paint as it would be more exciting than this book.

      But hey, Lani is nothing if not persistent. Heck, there are a few folks in the world that actually like Yugos and collect them. I have no idea who they are, but they’re out there. Somewhere.

      So I’m sure there are a few genuine fans of H4M. You know, the folks who actually saw nothing wrong with Cersei and Jaime’s relationship . . . .

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • spawnofbond
        spawnofbond

        I like Yugos. Don’t collect them though. And so far, I think this book is trash.

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
  37. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    “This illusion has never been performed in front of anyone, including the crew. It’s a very dangerous illusion for the lovely Zade. If anything goes wrong while we are doing the illusion, she could be lost forever, never to be seen again! So, please, to help her we ask you hold your applause to the end of the illusion.”

    Seriously, that right there should have terrified the audience Charles was speaking to because it can easily be interpreted to mean they’ve never even REHEARSED THE ILLUSION.

    Between this and the Sofia incedent, how have these people not been shut down?

    Now that I think about it, have we even seen Sofia practicing for this illusion in the past chapters? She’s talked about it yes but nothing’s been shown she rehearses it. Maybe Zeb was on to something when he accused her of being lazy.

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Yeah, also she is doing ACTUAL LIGHTNING with magic she only practised for few months and by her own words magic that is difficult. She really could hurt someone, with that esp considering there is lots of water involved, lots of other electrical equipment around, metal, again WATER and not in form of falling rain(also hi? rain? with again all this electric equipment. Like sure, yes that is surely safe) but a pool or water tank or whatever. electricity and huge water. Yes, sure let’s do that with crew and performers around(who never saw this illusion btw) and audience. What could possibly go wrong? 😛

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  38. EmmaG
    EmmaG

    Honestly, the illusion could have been really intricate and compelling with some great narration, and it would still be dull as heck. Zade is using really dangerous magic, all just for an act in a commercial stage performance, that’s it. What does it matter to the reader if Zade impresses the audience in her dad’s magic show? Say that she messed up and got fired – so what? She could just get another job and keep seeing Mac, and it will all basically be the same. Nothing has changed through Zade’s actions. She hasn’t set anything in motion, there’s no active antagonist or any sort of external conflict. There aren’t any stakes, unless you happen to care deeply about Zade keeping her job, so she can keep doing that job thing.

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
  39. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    Hang on. No no no. Hang on.

    So… Sadness can do illusions. Real magic-is-involved illusions. She’s already made one rose appear. With non-self-endangering magic, apparently. She relies on her magic enough to toss herself from catwalks to ground from the word go.

    Nobody but her and Charles and maybe sofia know what the finished illusion is supposed to look like. Its not like lives hang on her getting to the end.

    So… Why not… Do something else when it starts hurting? She doesn’t even have to stop the illusion! She has other magic to improvise with! This is like a dancer realizing there’s a problem with her fiery prop, and instead of putting it down and dancing with the sashes she’s wearing instead, she just sets herself on fire.

    I mean, sure, it shows commitment, but why is commitment better than being dumber than all the hockey sticks?

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • The chaos magic is chaotic and makes you do volatile and chaotically magical things. No, Lani’s just a bad writer with a dumb plot.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  40. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    OK, rant aside, serious writing question here, because I spent part of last night trying to think this through and I can’t make sense of it.

    I’ve read a lot of stories where the reader has access to information that some of the characters don’t. As a literary device, I’m OK with this; it can make the reader feel superior to characters they’re not supposed to like, or create tension when liked characters are headed for apparent failure. (“He’s heading for a trap!”)

    But here, the situation is inverted. The character, our protagonist even, has information that the reader hasn’t been told, and I can’t figure out what kind of positive storytelling element this achieves.

    Spellman is Zorbalinda’s father. Zorba knows this, but it apparently never crosses her mind in all of the scenes where we’re observing her thoughts and internal monologues. Spellman knows this, and may have even discussed it with someone else in the show, but we never get to see or hear about this.

    Why, as an author and storyteller, would you do this? Unreliable narrator is one reason, but you really need to hint at that throughout the book to avoid your audience feeling insulted. But what other reason or effect is there?

    I mean, my own pet theory is that this book is one long author-insert power fantasy, right? So having the author-insert/POV protagonist know things about the story, but intentionally keep them from the readers lets the author pull out the reveal and say “See how much smarter than you I am? I knew about this all along!”

    Maybe I’m just too deep in author-hate right now, but these little asides from Zagnut have a similar “talking down to the audience” feel. “I’ve never explained anything about my magic up until now, but just so you know what’s going on and so you aren’t lost, here’s what you should know about the chaos magjick I’m about to do”.

    What am I not seeing? What advantages to this “have the protagonist know things the reader doesn’t” approach am I missing?

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      …well, as a writer, I would do that with a character that I wanted to feel strange and alien.

      I might also use reveals to show an internal disconnection. Maybe, in a story where the narrator was not reliable, by proving a character intentionally suppressed things to fit their narrative. Or a relationship not being revealed because the relationship was abusive and the character firmly cut off the other person and proceeded like no bond ever existed.

      I’d also use it if I were worldbuilding on the fly, or suddenly realizing I had a plot hole, but that would never make it past the edit.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I guess she was trying to do a twist like “Gone Girl” or “”We Were Liars,” but in those books, we discover what’s going on when the characters do.

      If you saw the “Star Wars” movies in the order they were released, the revelation in “Empire” came as a real shock. But again, Luke didn’t see what was coming, although it was foreshadowed in his vision on Dagobah.

      One exception I can think of is “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” in which the narrator does withhold one important fact until near the end, but that is because she is looking back and reconstructing her perception of events at the time they were happening. She is not meant to be an unreliable narrator.

      In other instances – “Lolita,” “The Collector,” much of Poe’s work – the narrators are SUPPOSED to be unreliable, and what they leave out, reveal accidentally, or simply refuse to acknowledge, is how we know they are not to be trusted. Sarem’s decision to use this technique with a character she wants everyone to love is an odd choice.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        also Remains of the Days, Stevens says things, but he does get muddled himself and says that ‘wait no…someone else said that…yes I think it was so’ but it’s an older man recollecting something from the past so memory can play tricks on him and we are told and showed in that book that narrator isn’t enteriely reliable because he remembers things certain way and was raised certain way so he is telling us perhaps what he CONVINCED HIMSELF has happened. Like creating false memories or remembering things a different way because truth was too hurtful so you try and alert the thing, and convince yourself..like with Lord Darlington and his nazi sympathies, the book is written in such way that you can see Stevens is trying very hard to convince himself and justify things to himself because he was raised in a world where the lords were your betters and knew better so he tries to make sense of things and somehow convince himself it wasn’t as bad as it most likely was. ex. he from time to time says that ‘for some reason’ he was reluctant to admit he worked for Darlington to other people or when asked outright tells people he didn’t and lies and his insistence it’s because people believe gossip seems like a weak excuse. Deep down he knows that his previous employer screwed up and is ashamed of the connection but again bc of the way he was raised as a servant in a hierarchal world he has this reaction of ‘no, no he wasn’t bad, he was just fooled and he didn’t really think that’ because his mentality puts him in denial.

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
      • Jean
        Jean

        “Gone Girl” was the example I was thinking of as well, but that’s not a case of a narrator hiding things from the audience. We get two perspectives: one from Nick’s perspective as the investigation is occurring and the other from Amy’s past perspective in the diary entries. There’s no need for unreliable narrator in either.

        As far as the Charles + Daddy issues: Loopy should have just come out from the beginning with the father reveal, then created tension with Zeppelin having to keep this secret from the rest of the cast for… whatever reason (insert decent reason here). Then the reader is on edge that Mac is seeing these “romantic” moments and is going to blow Larp’s cover by saying they’re having an affair. Then you have losing Mac, her position in the show, Charles’ relationship with Sofia, and their professional reputations at stake constantly, so there’s some actual repercussions to this secret getting out. Even now, if there are some sort of effects from people knowing that he’s her father, there’s nothing laying them out. Mac’s not going anywhere after months of waiting on some other dude.

        Instead, we get this out-of-nowhere reveal that… frankly doesn’t matter. If he is the father or the love interest or just an irresponsible boss, who cares? How does this change the story at all? Loser specifically asks Charles to contact her mother at the end of this chapter, but that could easily have been her giving her phone pin to Zeb so he can get her mom’s number. No tension, no reason for this stupid, poorly-written “reveal.” There’s as much surprise in this as there is in Laffy Taffy’s “illusions.”

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Amy’s diary is unreliable. She was setting up Nick.

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      There are some instance where the first-person narrative keeps things hidden from the reader, but throughout the book litters little clues to give a reason why the protagonist needs to keep their secret, even from themselves.

      But there are no clues here. Charles is barely a character, and if you put all of his scenes together, he would probably only fill less than ten pages. The ONLY relationship we see between Zade and Charles is questionable, gross, and even knowing he’s her dad beforehand still doesn’t change the scene into a “ahhh, look, all the clues are there!” No, it changes it into, “Oh gross, she’s fucking her dad.”

      Worse, it make NO sense to keep it a secret from the audience. Because the only person who we see come to this realization is Mac, and I don’t want to be surprised with Mac. Mac is not even the main character, is a jerk, and is not the person I want to be in the same boat with.

      Because this was a script first, the transition from a sight media to a written media was very poor

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        “But there are no clues here. Charles is barely a character, and if you put all of his scenes together, he would probably only fill less than ten pages. The ONLY relationship we see between Zade and Charles is questionable, gross, and even knowing he’s her dad beforehand still doesn’t change the scene into a “ahhh, look, all the clues are there!” No, it changes it into, “Oh gross, she’s fucking her dad.””

        Nope. I realized Chuggs was her Daddy as soon as I read Jenny’s recap of the end of Chapter 2:

        “In the office, Charles tells her to sit down.

        He was facing the wall, but he spoke deliberately. “Well, my dear. Tell me everything.”

        (emphasis mine. But that was the clue. How else would she have been offered the audition in front of the crew with no other intro? The rules of her ability to moonblink all the men with magICKhadn’t been discussed yet, so at that point I automatically deduced Spunk-man was Papa.)

        After that, any further reference between Chuckles and ZazuZippyZit made me gross out.

        March 8, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I realized he was her dad the moment he walked on scene. Most storylines that have a focus on one parent but not the other tend to do stuff like this. The whole “my dear” wouldn’t have clued me in because it still comes off as very uncomfortable. We just saw him having a woman as young as Zade hang off his arm. And then afterwards giving Zade “the greatest contract ever given to a performer” followed by taking her to his office alone, and then pulls a James Bond villian trope by having her sit down while he monlogues facing a wall. Literary experience told me he was her dad. Everything presented tells me he’s a predator.

          March 8, 2018
          |Reply
    • June
      June

      Just wanted to throw in a rec for my very favorite book featuring an unreliable narrator, “Pale Fire” by Nabokov (he really liked those). I don’t want to say too much about it, but it takes the form of a long-form poem written by one fictional author and annotations/a foreword written by another, and even though there’s no linear narrative “story” per se it’s full of twists and turns as you get to know one author through the other’s eyes. It’s a seriously wild ride.

      Man, I might go read it again. I love it so much.

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • This is a really difficult move to pull in a 1st person POV. It can be done, but only if the narrator is keeping the information from him/herself as well as the reader. It has to be a self-deception like in Lolita or The Remains of the Day mentioned above.

      In these cases, the reader is often allowed to see through the deception before the narrator acknowledges it. Or there is some other sign that things are not quite right.

      Like everything Lani does, this is just a cheat. In a linear story with a supposedly reliable narrator, there’s no reason Invader Zim hasn’t revealed that Spellman is her father. Lani just wanted an M. Night twist. If only the twist were that Zim was dead…

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  41. Carl
    Carl

    But when that water started to move, did it start to REALLY move?

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      Ha! Thank you for the chuckle after a long tiring day!

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
  42. I don’t have any proof, but knowing Zani’s lack of imagination and propensity for thievery, she probably stole this act. Nothing is explained from the perspective of an illusionist. This is someone who watched a performance, took note of what she saw, then wrote it down.

    You could say she was trying to preserve the illusion, but this was supposed to be real magicksdsadk with nothing to hide

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ash
      Ash

      Because Lani is nothing if not a sad plagiarist of better work, I went poking around the interwebs to see what I could find. This is one of the first few results, The Marvelous Orange Tree by Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. It isn’t exactly the same, but this little except from a the bit on wikipedia did strike my as very similar.

      “A small orange tree planted in a wooden box was brought forth by one of his assistants. The audience noticed that the tree was barren of any blossoms or fruit. The blue flame from the vial was placed underneath it. The vapors from it caused the leaves to spread and sprout orange blossoms from it. Robert-Houdin then picked up his magic wand and waved it. The flowers disappeared and oranges bloomed forth.

      He plucked the oranges from the tree and tossed them to the audience to prove they were real. He did this until he only had one left.”

      I’m willing to bet that, with enough digging, one could find every bit of this magic trick the work of others.

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ash, just when you think you can’t find any more garbage to discredit Lemmy and her “fiction”….

        Damn.

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Hey, girlfriend did some actual RESEARCH. I’m impressed.

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Per Tom Lehrer:

          I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky
          In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:
          Plagiarize

          Plagiarize!
          Let no one else’s work evade your eyes
          Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
          So don’t shade your eyes
          But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
          Only be sure always to call it please “research”

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
      • This is actually more work than I expected from her, tbh. She read a book.

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • Mel
          Mel

          I give her no credit for reading. She watched a movie. The Illusionist with Edward Norton, maybe only this one clip and thought it looked cool:

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • Cris
            Cris

            I knew that part of the “illusion” reminded me of something. I don’t konw which is the academic or popular concensus regarding “The Illusionist”, but I quite liked it.

            March 10, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Holy shit, they can and should sue her.

            I thought the Finale had some good effects but seemed rather disjointed, and now I know why. She cut-and-pasted cool stuff from different people together. Taking bets on the “younger version of Daddy” being swiped from a different source.

            On the other hand, now I want to see this movie, so thanks for link.

            March 10, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            lolol, out of curiosity I tried to do a general google search on ‘adam and eve magic trick’ to see if something will pop up and what i got were vibrators. XD

            but you’re right, I think if someone looks hard enough, Lani “borrows” all the illusions from different sources.

            March 10, 2018
          • Mike
            Mike

            To be fair that trick isn’t original to The Illusionist either. It’s an incredibly old trick by Robert Houdin, who made a clockwork orange tree in a beautiful box that would bloom, then sprout real oranges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZb4nw7_hGY

            Though also to be fair I’m pretty certain that she took most of the inspiration for the act from Le Reve. I’m 99% certain this is where the stage layout comes from, at the very least.

            There’s a guy causing the water to move to his whim, creation of a fire that gets put out by rain, people coming down from the catwalk above on wires, rain with lightning and thunder effects, shattering glass, a young boy and girl kissing, it even has an apple tree and a guitar solo… If I’m right though I don’t know how she managed to turn an hour and a half long Cirque style performance into an incredibly dull to read magic act that probably lasts about 5-10 minutes, tops. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz4h5onaAUM

            March 10, 2018
          • Mel
            Mel

            I know it’s based on Robert Houdin’s illusion but I just don’t buy Lani doing research. I’m pretty certain she just watched this movie and thought that part looked cool and included it. Then just borrowed things from other things she saw too. Because she’s lazy above all else and I refuse to believe she read something.

            Cris, I liked The Illusionist a lot too. People seem to only remember The Prestige though. I actually liked The Illusionist better myself but The Prestige was good too.

            Violetta, definitely check it out. I enjoyed it a lot.

            March 12, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Mel:
            Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist” was the basis for the movie. So *he’s* probably the one who did the research into Robert Houdin (who was so prominent that Houdini took his stage name in tribute to him).

            Never saw Le Cirque in person, but from the clips I’ve seen on TV, people who say that’s where much of the other material is from are probably right.

            Nothing wrong with drawing on various traditions to invent something new: the Beatles took R&B, skiffle, country-western, and B’way to produce an entirely new genre of music; George Lucas took horse operas and sci-fi and got Star Wars; Kurt Cobain took punk, metal, and bubblegum, and got grunge. But there is no synthesis in HfM.

            I’ve posted this elsewhere: for something that probably started as a script but made a good novel, I recommend William Osborne’s “Hitler’s Secret.” He’s an experienced screenwriter, but he knew how to adapt his work to the genre of written fiction. When I read it, I kept thinking, “This would make a great movie,” so when I finally checked his bio and saw that was where he’d done most of his work, it made sense. It was his first novel, but you could see it would work in both media.

            March 12, 2018
          • Mel
            Mel

            Violetta: Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist” was the basis for the movie. So *he’s* probably the one who did the research into Robert Houdin (who was so prominent that Houdini took his stage name in tribute to him).

            That makes sense. Lani is incapable of research so she ripped off a movie that adapted a story by an author that actually took the time to do the research into a subject he was obviously interested in.

            I think that’s what pisses me off the most about HfM. Lani clearly has no passion for telling stories, no passion or interest in witchcraft/tarot/supernatural elements, she barely has any passion for actual romance and it shows in her work because it’s so boring. The only thing you can really see she’s passionate about in her book is that she wants fame, adoration, and riches/privilege. It’s actually the thing that comes across as the most passionately written about in the whole book and that is really fucking sad. What a hollow shell of a person.

            March 12, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Mel: She’s not passionate about theatre either.

            If you can find it, Claire Rayner’s “Performers” series has a character named Lilith Lucas who becomes a prominent actress. It’s clear she’s a malignant narcissist, but she also knows her craft: “Gower St.” and “The Haymarket” have details about her learning how to set her powder with the haresfoot, knowing where to place herself on stage so the light will hit her features at the most flattering angle, saving her alcohol for after the performance so it doesn’t affect her concentration. As destructive as the character is, you have to respect her for her unfeigned devotion to her craft.

            March 12, 2018
        • Dove
          Dove

          I don’t know how she managed to turn an hour and a half long Cirque style performance into an incredibly dull to read magic act that probably lasts about 5-10 minutes, tops.

          That’s the true magic of Lani Sarem!

          March 11, 2018
          |Reply
  43. Black Knight
    Black Knight

    There are so many awesome typos, but I particularly love this one: “The tree branches began to rust and move”

    Trees can rust? I’ve been reading these for a while, but I can’t help it, I have to finally de-lurk and join in the hilarity. Who are the three editors? Are they hiding somewhere trying to avoid the indignity of having their names associated with this? Or maybe they all flung themselves into standing water from 60 feet high.

    It would have been more dramatic if Zee had collapsed in the middle of her illusion, in front of the audience, but she’s Lani’s self-insert and there was no way Lani was going to have her self-insert not get the glory of the complete illusion, now was she?

    Also, I still think Zaaaaaaaade is more attracted to Sofia than either of her alleged love interests or her father. It’s funny that Lani has such a hate for women, yet she can’t restrain herself from telling us how hot Sofia is or how beautiful her voice is. A guy was singing too, so I would ordinarily expect Zod to gush about his voice – especially since he’s created by her and so she would really be praising herself – and ignore Sofia.

    March 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “Trees can rust?”

      Shouldn’t, if they’re silver birches or silver firs. Not sure about Conan-Doyle’s Copper Beeches, though.

      As for The Act, I think I’ve posted this before in the TroutVerse, but I can’t resist:

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=2s&v=woH0Nhbc-fc

      March 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      Off topic, but when I was young I didn’t want to eat lettuce where the veins were turning brown. Most of the leaves were still good. My great-grandmother told me the lettuce was fine, that’s just what happens to it when the iron and water in the lettuce comes into contact with air. (I can’t remember her exact words.)

      I looked at her and said, “Lettuce rusts?”

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Lettuce ‘rust’ is actually a fungus that looks reddish-brown on the leaves. But no, it’s not iron oxide.

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Lettuce-rary irony!

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
    • Yup, I too am still convinced that Zordi is really in love with Sofia.

      Also, I feel like Sarem thinks that with this ‘illusion’ she put something down in the same league as ‘The Night Circus’.

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • (Different) Rebecca
        (Different) Rebecca

        Celia would snap Sarem/Zade’s petty bullshit like a fucking twig.

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Celia would snap Sarem/Zade’s petty bullshit like a fucking twig.

          Like a James Fenimore Cooper hero in Mohicans?

          March 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Damn straight. JFC heroes are resourceful enough to bring their own twigs for such occasions, and secondary characters who are occasionally unprepared can always go and borrow one. The lenders will understand.

            March 9, 2018
  44. Atrista
    Atrista

    Speaking of plagiarism… The scene where Zolof describes how she is burning up from the inside is a blatant ripoff from Twilight. This is exactly how Bella described feeling when she was in her little comma. She feels like she is burning inside but on the outside she looks totally normal (because nobody likes a charred heroine, of course). smh.

    March 9, 2018
    |Reply
  45. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    OK, it’s days later, and I still have questions about the basic plot and narrative so far.

    1.) Was it ever explained in the text how Zazoo got her initial audition? Was it an open call, did she just mag-ick her way into an audition, or did Charles Spellman call her up, and say “Come to my show in Vegas and I’ll get you an audition, but you have to pretend not to know me”?

    2.) So Zardoz does real mag-ick on the stage every time she performs, which is nightly. After weeks or months of performances, shouldn’t everyone else in the show realize she’s not performing an illusion, but doing real mag-ick? To say nothing of this “new illusion”? Or is everyone else in the show under some ‘stupify/forgetting’ charm? Like “Oh yeah, that person over there can bend the fabric of space and does the impossible nightly, but we just like to give her her space and not ask questions. You know, just all of us doing our own thing, really.”

    2a.) OK, so the story makes a point of talking about people having understudies and learning how the acts are done. But Zee uses real mag-ick, so does that mean her act doesn’t have a replacement or an understudy? Is everyone really just “oh yeah, that’s the new act, it’s a major centerpiece of our production, and it involves the star diving headfirst at a solid stage. What would happen if she was injured? Well, no one else knows how it works, so the show would probably be crippled, lose a lot of draw, maybe even go dark. Why do you ask?”

    2b.) So if Zagnut uses mag-ick, and everyone around her knows it, and she is understudy for someone else’s trick and someone else is understudy for hers, doesn’t that mean all the performers use mag-ick? I mean, the idea of an entire Vegas show with real magic making it all look fake is kind of a fun idea (see also: Clive Barker’s “The Last Illusion” and the Nicolas Cage movie “Next”) but then why all the safety harnesses and whatnot? I mean, I know in a screenplay, special effects shots cost money, but in a book, if I can use magic to teleport my way out of a fall, why wear a safety rig?

    3.) Does the text at any point talk about Zorba “missing her father” or “having an ache for growing up without a dad” or anything at all that would suggest her, you know, wanting to seek out an absentee father? I mean, if the story is building to a reveal of “I found my bio-dad, isn’t that great?”, was there any build-up for us, the readers, to care at all about that?

    4.) On a meta-level, Z’up-homies is using a dangerous, apparently potentially-fatal kind of magic to perform a stage show for tourists, while one of her love interests has a job making sure performers are safe on stage. And Zurg chose to do this very dangerous, very unnecessary stunt after dating said safety-manager for months?

    March 9, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      1) Nope. We’re not sure if she moonblinked Spunk-man or anyone else to get the audition in Chapter 1. All we know is she drove to Vegas and the next thing she was in the lobby getting ready for the audition after not preparing anyone. (Mac does complain, but Spunk-man shuts him down for non-logical reasons)

      2) You’d think they’d have thought of this, but, alas, no, no character has been properly developed to be a real person, so they never think of any of these things.

      3) Never been mentioned by Jenny, so, no.

      4) They’re not dating, she still waffling on choosing Mac or Jackson after all those months. Mac can’t help himself, after all, because he’s been moonblinked by the mag-ICK (as all men are wont to be), but after Mac is such a butt-head in Chapter 14 and personally puts her life in danger I have no idea why ZaZuZippyZit even wants him in the first place (a person’s real personality shows up when they don’t get what they want, and Mac goes all FSOG on Zzyzx when he sees her kiss her dad.) There’s more sexual tension between Zlut and dad (or even Sophie) than Mac.

      But very logical points. In short: beats me.

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      1.) IIRC Charles says something that kind of alludes that he knows of Zade’s talents after she does her act, but it’s never actually stated how or why he does. (I’m not going back to look, so I might be wrong or remembering a comment/rewrite.)

      2. 2a. 2b.) Never explained or mentioned again. It was more an info “I totes knows how backstage of theaters work” dump than anything else. Like the constant mentioning of show blacks, dark days, and vague referencing of rehearsing.

      3.) I want to say there were one or two mentions of growing up without a dad sucking (mentioned in reviews), but not so much that it would lend itself to a heartwarming father/daughter reunion novel.

      4.) Considering Mac gave up trying to find out how Z-dawg does her tricks, didn’t look into Sofia’s accident AT ALL, or do hardly anything in the books except moon over Rainbow-haired Zebra, I doubt he’s had any influence on her at all, except vindicating her by never calling any of this into question after they start dating.

      March 10, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      1) Not explained, but I get the feeling this is the one time Zade put anything into motion. She gets mad at her mom for keeping her in Donky Juice, plausibly by magic, and since Zade gets revenge on people who slight her, I think Zade decided to go see dad and suckle on dat fat wad of Benjamins teat for a while, just to make Dela feel bad. Yeah, they supposedly make up before Zade leaves, but that’s only because seeing her mom suffer wasn’t the main point. She wanted fame and fortune too. I’m not sure if Zade technically moonblinked Charles over the phone; it’s plausible he was feeling needy and vulnerable (and lesser than Copperfield) when she reached out to him, so he accepted, knowing that she could do magic and thus enhance the show the way Zeb does and Dela did. Her magic probably made it easier.

      2.) I suspect Zade mindwipes everyone. She doesn’t say it, but she already has them eating out of her hands. It’d be simple to hammer down any nails that crop up over the course of events. Maybe that’s why that one guy got fired? Charles didn’t like him because he kept asking Zade WTF she was doing on stage. XD

      2a.) In theory, Zeb could perform Zade’s act. Jenny didn’t really imply this, but his whispered words were probably a spell in an attempt to stabilize the bleeding woman in his arms. Also, Zade mentioned how comforting his arms were and that she dragged herself to him. She said he was close but then she also said he was 5 feet away so I don’t buy his location being the reason. Zeb tried to rescue her from the magic and couldn’t, which is why he didn’t protest when Zade told Charles to call her mom. Incidentally, Zeb has been with Charles since Dela left, Zeb told Charles his criticisms about just letting Zade do her audition, and Zeb told Zade she wasn’t taking the “Craft” seriously without explaining what craft he meant. Zeb is totally magic but whether she originally built him up as an antagonist and decided to drop that angle, we’ll never know. He was a red herring anyway since she keeps asking why he hates her, Zeb says he doesn’t and he doesn’t mention it but it seems like he’s only concerned about her and Charles. Lani Sarem didn’t say Zeb could handle Zade’s performance, probably to make her seem more special, but also I don’t think he’s as stupid as Zade clearly is. In reality, no one can perform her acts because the author won’t let them, even if she built up the understudy in a way that is stupid, she only added that as a handwave appeasement to one of her editors or friends.

      2b.) Zade would never be anyone else’s understudy. That was an attempt at logic but it failed because Lani Sarem doesn’t understand how jobs work (note that Mac has never once in his entire 12 or whatever years working for Spellman called out sick; I almost never call out sick and I’ve still called out sick at least once or twice at the jobs I’ve worked), especially in the entertainment industry. Again, it was just a lampshade over one of the many plot holes. However, in a logical world, Zade could cover for Zeb, and Zeb could cover for Zade, and then someone could cover Zeb’s non-magical assistance roles which that one lady did so it would be mostly covered. XD

      3.) The build-up is for Charles marrying Dela, so, no. Zade’s interest in her father is inconsequential to the narrative. That one scene with the misunderstanding was lip service and a red herring. Lani Sarem wanted a father that died when she was very little or before she was born and I guess she never had a step-dad or whatever. She had a second mom… I’m assuming Sarem would like her father back but she can’t fathom actually meeting him and for some reason, she’s never had a fatherly relationship or been excited by such portrayals in movies. I’m assuming as much because I love father figures, I didn’t see my dad much when I was growing up… That’s why I love Wolverine… He’s a badass daddy in my eyes, the way he keeps taking various kids, notably young girls, under his wing. And in general I love tender parental relationships overall. I don’t think Lani Sarem was trying to deliver that… Maybe she was incapable, which is why she wrote nothing but romance. If she’d really cared, I think she would’ve tried cribbing from somewhere.

      See, Lani Sarem could’ve written absolute fanservice for me if she’d done this right. It’s one of the many reasons why this novel pisses me off so much when I really think about it and why I keep getting sucked into the reviews and comments at least. On the one hand, I love snarky riffing and analytical analysis of bad writing, but on the other, I’m really angry that I didn’t get what she promised on ANY level.

      4.) Mac is a puppet. I think his job was chosen just so they could argue in chapter 1. That’s literally it. Sarem ignores his career because that makes things easier, but I’m assuming Zade is mindwiping and otherwise controlling him. Charles Spellman on some level too, probably, so that he won’t start asking questions, but she got to him first. Then she sunk her teeth into Mac and turned him into a pod person at best and a willing lackey at worst. She’s had her hooks in him since he snuck a look at her in her underwear. Yeah, it’s tropey stupid junk, but seriously, why else did he do that? He was falling under her spells and she either gave him that memory or she let him keep it so he would think he’s in control of himself.

      But really, you’re surprised this woman doesn’t care about anyone else’s safety? Shit, I’m sure her regular shows are dangerous too, just not as much because she’d lead you to believe she has perfect control over ordinary magic except for when she dishes out sweet vengeance.

      Any other questions? XD

      March 10, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Er, forgot to add, Zeb basically took over for Dela when she left roughly 20 years ago (maybe more, I forget if it was at Zade’s birth or a little while after.) It’s not really stated but the timing works perfectly, Dela was originally enhancing Spellman’s illusions with her magic, and then Charles continued to succeed smashingly after she was gone so the implication seems to be that Zeb has been doing the same magical oomph that Dela was. So the show has been using real magic for a long time, that’s why Charles is cool with Zade being added, but Zeb actually knows fucking illusions, he works with and seems to be friendly towards the rest of the crew (Zeb gives Cam a ride home from the bar, presumably as designated driver, and he’s at every outing with his co-workers except the Peppermill.) He is, therefore, way more discreet, so up until the devil spawn’s arrival, there wasn’t a problem with keeping things under the safety code. But Zade? She don’t need none of that because she has plot armor and she keeps mindwiping people! I’m thinking that’s why Zeb keeps giving her dirty looks and she just assumes he hates her. It’s not that, he just doesn’t like her methods but he can’t get rid of her without risking his job and without placing his co-workers in the path of her rage. Mac’s already dead and gone inside, so he can’t get any help from there. Zeb might’ve kept trying to get Spellman to see reason but either Zade mindblasted daddy or he’s too stupid to understand how risky this has gotten since he doesn’t know anything about magic. Maybe Spellman trusts Zade too much. Either way, we learn almost nothing about Zeb, except in little snippets, but I think there’s a reason for that. It’d expose too much of the horribleness Zade has been up to and she’s rewriting things from her POV.

        Mind you, I’m theorycrafting like crazy here but the details add up and clearly, Zeb was meant to be significant at some point. He’s in… a surprisingly large number of chapters, compared to the rest of the crew beyond Mac and Jackson, but since he’s mostly a background character it’s very easy to overlook him.

        March 10, 2018
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        One more thing, the reason I’m convinced that Zeb mumbled a spell and not some second language he knows, in general, is two-fold. The only instance where a magical spell is put into the dialog, some Slavic language is used (Serbian or Croatian, I think it was.) Zade doesn’t mention what language Zeb speaks, she might not recognize it, but she’s unreliable. And she also refuses to reveal Zeb’s magical capability. Up until this point, his ethnicity wasn’t really touched on but he has red hair and I think he’s plausibly Caucasian or perhaps Middle Eastern (maybe Hebrew, even.) He doesn’t speak anything else up to this point, but he could certainly know another language very well. However, this is right before the major reveal of magic to Mac, so it’s hard to think it’s a coincidence, especially when Zeb warned Zade sometime before the big show about her slacker nature coming back to haunt her, and he said he’d help her if she showed some signs of improvement (like weeks ago but the movie script probably had these events a little closer together) and she sought him out for safety and comfort against her usual inclinations. Zeb doesn’t seem to be a cruel man, from what little we’re given, he actually seems nicer than Zade in spite of “looking devilish” in front of a campfire, so I strongly believe he was trying to help her and simply couldn’t (or maybe he was trying to contain her but he should’ve known Zade getting dump-trucked by nature would foretell Dela’s return in some way, so I don’t know if he’d risk that. We never get a sense of how powerful she is or what Zeb thinks of her or what she thinks of him, so I really have no idea.)

        Whew… and I’m sorry. For the record, I only paid any attention to the man because I started a fanfic I still haven’t gone back to. He’s really not too notable other than this mild puzzler surrounding his purpose in the story. Very easily forgotten with all the other shit going on in the narrative.

        March 10, 2018
        |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        I had not read this before commenting above, but it seems we have very similar thoughts about what went on between the scenes of this book. Also, Wolverine is my favorite too.

        March 11, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I had not read this before commenting above, but it seems we have very similar thoughts about what went on between the scenes of this book.

          No problem! You commented before I did, so no worries there. I was originally going to leave it be, since you and MyDog’sPA already covered everything, but then I decided to expand on that because I enjoy theorizing and the author is pretty transparent the more we examine this novel. Not-Lani Sarem’s commentary on Blandbook for Chortles has also been a strong inspiration for my perspective, so I’m not surprised we’re in agreement. Out of curiosity, on what thoughts do we differ, if any?

          Also, thinking it over a little more, I’m not sure if Zeb’s magic was truncated because the editors questioned what Zade truly brought to the act if Zeb was subtly employing magic the way Dela had, so Lani Sarem decided to remove any confirmation of his ability, or if Charles actually got better and was succeeding with his own skill and talent after Dela left, so Zeb isn’t magical at all and it’s accidental insinuation. Based on how this book works and Spellman’s sneaky tactics, I highly doubt the latter, so I’m leaning towards it being a plot hole that the author didn’t want to touch on. Since Zeb isn’t an actual antagonist, she simply nerfed Zeb without removing her previous attempt at a twist reveal that he’s not a bad guy.

          And I swear, I’ll shut up about Zeb now.

          Also, Wolverine is my favorite too.

          Yay! Haha, there’s a lot of great X-men, Nightcrawler’s another favorite, but Wolverine always holds the highest place in my heart for the aforementioned reason (even if most of the people he loves end up dead but that’s not his fault that’s just comic book writing alas.) I still need to watch Logan, though… It’s awful that I haven’t but I’m squeamish so I have to be in the right mood to watch anything really violent, that’s my excuse. (I also haven’t read the comics in years but hubby told me Squirrelgirl recently gave him a pet wolverine on the assumption that he liked wolverines and just… mwah. I love Squirrelgirl too. I need to hunt down some scans of that scene.)

          XD

          March 11, 2018
          |Reply
          • Athena
            Athena

            Oh, I meant the comment thread above, the one you started a new thread because of length. We were discussing how unrealistic the estranged father/daughter dynamic is. The lack of effort Sarem put into it is staggering. Like you said, it feels like she wanted it in the plot, but then avoided actually writing it like it was lava.

            I haven’t thought that much about Zeb. Zade’s constant focus on how mean he was to her was a dead giveaway he wasn’t going to be a villain. It’s pretty blatantly obvious he has magic, and yeah after we find out Charles made it because of Dela helping, it’s pretty obvious that somehow Charles came across another magic user who was willing to make him famous and ride his coattails. My question is if there are rules about having kids with mundanes, why aren’t there people making sure stuff like this isn’t happening? I could see Zeb and Dela keeping under the radar, but you cannot tell me Zade’s act (if it’s the same one she auditioned with) or this new one, isn’t going to set off alarm bells with the higher-ups. Because there has to be higher-ups if there are rules. Now, it would be interesting if Zeb worked for Them and had been trying to keep Zade’s acts from getting out of hand, but hadn’t been privy to what she and Charles were plotting. God, what I wouldn’t give for Zade to be hauled up before the MACUSA for Misuse of Magic, not to mention endangering the Statute of Secrecy.

            I haven’t seen Logan either yet, I’m a little behind in those movies. And I need to see Squirrelgirl give him a wolverine! XD

            March 12, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            First of all, I have to share this. I was mistaken, it’s not Logan, it’s the new girl, X-23, but he plays a part that is perfect and it’s a beautiful contrast to what we were discussing. This site has some of the scans while explaining what they left out (god, I think I need to buy this one so I can experience the whole thing. This is a really good comic.)

            http://xmen-supreme.blogspot.com/2016/04/all-new-wolverine-7-nuff-said.html

            It’s so worth reading the summary too (if nothing else than for all the shade that was thrown lol. I don’t even remember who Hope Summers was but I know Cyclops got the worst family development overall so… whether she was Jean’s clone or one of the kids, it don’t matter.) The images link to larger versions for better readability. Also, what I really love is how the wolverine isn’t just a throw-away gag… They incorporated one of the silliest, best ideas into the plot and I love it.

            My question is if there are rules about having kids with mundanes, why aren’t there people making sure stuff like this isn’t happening?

            I get the feeling there’s no government. If this was originally based on Twilight, I think the vampires were kinda like warring feudal states or something. There was nothing central and the only governing they did was on a very small level. So, I’m assuming it’s just shunning if a magic pops out a mundane because they’re wasting their time and resources on some random human instead of another magic, even if the rando is family. Like they’re all royalty/nobility or some shit and it brings them down to humanity’s level to interact more intimately with humans? And the only thing keeping that in check is each other.

            I agree it’d be nice to see Zade face some consequences for her illicit magic-use, but since we’ll never get to see some Ministry of Magic involvement or even something like Interpol, I’d at least settle for getting a better taste for how she did build her world up. Dedication to a clan and whatever duties familial bonds have would’ve been really interesting to see, especially if it could be an honor before happiness kind of deal. That’d give us some real conflict, especially if Zade was less of a rebel, but naturally, we won’t see any of that. She’s not constrained by any sort of social bonds or cues, judging from how little she thought about it, and I suspect Lani Sarem just wanted a Romeo and Juliet hint because that’s the go-to concept for a lot of these types of “We come from two different worlds” bullshit.

            March 13, 2018
  46. Pernille
    Pernille

    “The first time the card in the chapter title was actually applicable to what happens in the plot”

    I don’t know, I think “The Fool” of chapter 0 definitely fit as well.

    March 9, 2018
    |Reply
  47. Saint_Sithney
    Saint_Sithney

    See, at first, as a starting-out proofreader, I was outraged at how much slipped through. I only work with a small editing company, and I take great pride in grooming whatever passes through my hands to the best version it can possibly be. While sometimes the books aren’t great, I will happily spend hours researching to find little mistakes like a push-button start car having its “keys” referred to, or big but overlooked mistakes like a character in Puerto Rico at 10 AM telling us it’s 5 AM in London.

    Until I got to the book I’m working on. It’s nearly incomprehensible – to the point of definitely being worse than “A Handbook for Mortals”. I asked my boss about the edits done to the book before I got it, since I’m supposed to be the last step before formatting and publishing. She sent out a group e-mail to the editor and the author. The editor said that her notes exactly corresponded to everything I was saying. The author said it was unneeded and the “poofredar” should just stick to spelling errors.

    So… I have more sympathy for the editors now. My mind is boggling over the author I’m working with shelling out at least $400 to completely ignore what professionals are telling them about their work, but I can totally see Lani Sarem refusing to acknowledge any suggestions or changes made to her manuscript. From what I see with the author I’m working with, they think their manuscript is perfect and a work of genius, but they acknowledge that they aren’t great at spelling, so they’re willing to pay for a manual spellchecker. But any of us suggesting improvements are stepping WAY out of bounds. Which… I have some evidence that the author is not Lani Sarem, but they’re definitely soulmates.

    March 9, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      This is super interesting. A lot of us here theorized the editors either didn’t care or Lani didn’t care, so it’s great to get some confirmation that the editors probably did try. Perhaps they told her to take out the padding, which would’ve decreased the volume of the book. Maybe they told her which the scenes that conflicted with each other and Lani, on a time crunch of wanting her movie out as soon as possible, was like, “Nah.” And when Lani didn’t get the answers she wanted, when the editors were acting as professionals and telling her things she didn’t want to hear, kept moving on to new editors until she got to one who was like, “Fine. I’ll only check for spelling. Whatever.”

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Ahhh, see, I figured it had to be the author refusing to acknowledge the changes. Actually, I’m sure Lani Sarem did recognize some, which we noticed, but I think she argued against them until at least one editor, if not all three, managed to change her mind. At that point, she put the discussion into print without really doing much to fix the issue in most cases. So, to her mind, she solved everything even though she mostly just paid someone to fuck up her grammar and ignore her typos.

      It’s amusing to be reminded that there are worse books, btw. I expect the one you’re working on is technically self-published or almost.

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Er sorry, I meant to say “acknowledge the issues.”

        March 9, 2018
        |Reply
    • Black Knight
      Black Knight

      I have an “awesome” story for you.

      A couple of weeks ago, I read an art book which was so poorly edited that I nearly flung it at a wall (except it was heavy, and I feared doing damage to both my throwing arm and the wall).

      I should have known what I was getting into from the first sentence of the introduction: “At a time when there is no firm cannon dictating what art is and should be…”

      First. Sentence. Of. The. Introduction.

      Alas, this was not the last time that “canon” would be misspelled throughout the book, nor would that be the only series of mix-ups. There were run-on sentences galore, and sentence fragments just to change things up. Many, many typos. One artwork was missing its identifying label completely. But perhaps the capper was the page that had one artwork on top and two on the bottom, accompanied by three captions which all carried “(bottom)” in the description.

      My copy is a third edition, presenting me with two horrifying possibilities, and I can’t decide which is worse: Either they never bothered to fix any of the mistakes from the first run, or this is AFTER they fixed some of their mistakes!!

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        My copy is a third edition, presenting me with two horrifying possibilities, and I can’t decide which is worse: Either they never bothered to fix any of the mistakes from the first run, or this is AFTER they fixed some of their mistakes!!

        I want to believe they assumed no one was actually reading an art book, which is very sad but makes the most sense to me. If it’s a required college textbook, then I blame laziness and them assuming that money used to clear up typos and spelling errors is money misspent. So, it could be no one touched the second edition, other than to update the most recent info, but then in the third, they heard about some stuff giving teachers a headache and cleared up those? I’m guessing those three captions weren’t in the curriculum or it was a budget constraint and they’d long since lost the original info that was meant to go there.

        March 10, 2018
        |Reply
        • Black Knight
          Black Knight

          No, I don’t think this particular art book was designed or intended for use by colleges. (I was an art history minor in college, so am familiar with what types of art books are part of the curriculum.)

          Your conjecture that they thought nobody was reading an art book does make sense for the first edition. But printing a second and third run surely tipped them off. So I continue to ponder whether they just weren’t interested in fixing any of their mistakes, or if this incredibly mistake-ridden book was once even worse. I think it’s probably the former, though, because if the latter, surely the one mistake they would have fixed is the one that is in the very first sentence of the freaking book!

          March 10, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Yeah, in that case, they thought it wasn’t worth corrections since it’s only useful to scholars and hobbyists, but not the ley person who would just skim for the pictures, if they picked it up at all. (I highly doubt this is a big, glossy thing meant to sit on coffee tables.) Even if it got more popular than anticipated, it’s probably not cost effective to pay for an editor or a proofreader. I’m guessing it’s a fringe interest book at best in the publisher’s eyes and the profit margin, especially for print nowadays, is pretty thin even if it’s selling well enough to update with more current information. That’s my theory.

            If they fix anything, I’d honestly expect them to fix those captions rather than the first sentence, if I misread and it was all of the necessary text with the word (bottom) randomly applied. I suspect a lot of people never even read the first sentence because they dug through the index to find the info they needed and never read it cover to cover. It sounds like a very dry book. I mean, it’s not a bad first sentence, it’s could be an exciting opening to some epic fantasy or sci-fi involving extraordinary painters, but if the book is crammed with run-on sentences extolling the budding definition of art, then I’m sure a lot of eyes would be glazing over before long. XD

            March 11, 2018
          • Black Knight
            Black Knight

            Actually, it is the sort of art book meant for a coffee table! And it’s really not a dry book at all – the focus is young contemporary art, so there’s a ton of fun/striking pieces of art pictured, along with some interesting interviews with the artists. The ratio is something like 95% artwork and 5% text (between the artist interviews and the brief introductory essays before each section), so it’s easy to flip through.

            It’s just terribly edited.

            March 11, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            Actually, it is the sort of art book meant for a coffee table! And it’s really not a dry book at all – the focus is young contemporary art, so there’s a ton of fun/striking pieces of art pictured, along with some interesting interviews with the artists. The ratio is something like 95% artwork and 5% text (between the artist interviews and the brief introductory essays before each section), so it’s easy to flip through.

            It’s just terribly edited.

            I stand corrected! XD I guess they didn’t expect much reading because of the sparse amounts of text and so more effort was put into the graphic design elements. Haha, I guess it really was a surprise hit but the cost of proofreading still seems too expensive now (lovingly rendered pictures/photos would cost a lot of ink and paper?) I love art books but since people aren’t buying as many printed books, in general, I guess using them as coffee table reading and decor has declined significantly.

            March 11, 2018
    • RMH
      RMH

      Wow, that sounds infuriating! I come across this as a low-level thing (we ‘poofread’, haha, all-staff emails from my department at work before they go out to about 500 people), and I find it frustrating when I make a suggestion and it doesn’t get incorporated. But to read a whole book, spend your time making notes, and then find out the writer doesn’t care is beyond the pale.

      March 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • Saint_Sithney
        Saint_Sithney

        Thank you all for your sympathy. It’s a 400-odd page book, and I made 1255 corrections in the first 40 pages. That’s the level of amateurism on display. Just like “A Handbook for Mortals”, the plot will start up, then come to a grinding halt so the author can describe a scene that they probably thought would look cool in agonizing detail. Then, no section breaks, POV switch, plot is back.

        I pray to God to one day have even a fraction of the confidence of this writer. I’ve been told I write well since I was in elementary school, and yet I’ve never written a full manuscript. But this writer has churned out 400 pages of complete nonsense and thinks they’re Tolstoy.

        Though it’s interesting that my rules of proofreading are being upheld so firmly:

        1) Whoever has the least amount to say will take the longest possible time to say it.
        2) The worse the writing, the longer the manuscript.

        March 11, 2018
        |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      Dear God. If I was shelling out $400 for editing I would be taking to heart every word that was said to me. I feel so bad for you editors and proofreaders too. If anything’s wrong, you’re the first to be blamed because you should have caught it. I hate-read the blog of an author I used to read but her books took a nosedive the last decade or so. Her obvious attempts to push her deadlines, fight the edits and generally wear the editors down until they publish the drek as is makes me so sorry for anyone in your profession.

      Question: You saying in another comment that the author was trying to make the scene “look cool” made me wonder, do you see a trend of books being written with movies in mind? It’s hard to explain, but sometimes I read books and can just feel the “This will look so cool in the movie!” vibe in the writing.

      March 12, 2018
      |Reply
      • Tez Miller
        Tez Miller

        LKH?

        March 13, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          Yep. I was wondering if I was being too obvious with that one.

          March 13, 2018
          |Reply
          • Jenny Trout
            Jenny Trout

            I was just gonna say, “It’s okay, you can say LKH.” XD

            March 13, 2018
      • Saint_Sithney
        Saint_Sithney

        Athena:
        I haven’t read many recently published books lately. Most of my pleasure reading is histories or classics in my favorite field (science fiction – I’m planning on writing my doctorate on it). But I was apparently (chronologically) the first reviewer to call out “Everything, Everything” for being ableist, so that’s kind of cool.

        But in the novels I proof, there are definitely two camps. One camp is writing for the story, though they may have an idea for a film. The other camp is firmly writing with the idea of how awesome it will look in the movie, even if it doesn’t make any sense in the narrative. From reviews I’ve read, there’s a definite trend in that direction towards “cinematic” writing, even when it clashes with the plot… because the author thinks it covers the plot. Just look at “Ready Player One”, where the author apparently forgot to include a coherent plot because they were so busy thinking how cool all those references would look on the big screen.

        I suppose you could call it the “Cartoon All-Stars Effect”, where the idea seems awesome, but the execution is pathetic.

        March 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          Oh god, I’m reading Ready Player One now! Ok, technically I’m listening to it. I do a lot of audiobooks while I commute or craft, and I went audio for this one simply for Wil Wheaton narrating. So far (I”m only on Chapter 8) it’s not so much that the plot is incoherent, it’s that it’s completely abandoned for what feels like entire chapters of world building/ MC fan-gasming about the creator of the VR world. I like the plot when it’s there, except listening to a character describe playing a video game is not the most exciting thing in the world. I was honestly expecting more action by now.
          Also, I’m trying to figure out if the MC is dumb, or I just have more info because I, as the reader, have an outside perspective.

          Ok, enough of that. I was thinking of RP1 when I asked that question, but I’ve felt it in several other books, especially YA. Red Queen is the first that comes to mind. I was flipping between being bored stiff and annoyed out of my mind by the MC. I actually gave up on that book with only about two chapters or so left. I’ve seen reviews that the ending “makes it worth it”, but I don’t think I should have to slog through 3/4 or more of a book to be entertained.

          March 15, 2018
          |Reply
          • Cody Cromarty
            Cody Cromarty

            After I finished this on Something Awful, my current Let’s Read thread is Ready Player One.

            I really don’t understand its popularity. It’s references for references’ sake, just 80s references flying at you hard and fast from page to page. It’s a book for people who base their whole personality on pop culture consumption and “being a nerd”.

            March 15, 2018
  48. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    I would like to pause and take a really good look at the basic mechanical problem here. Jenny’s touched on it, so has another commenter: but. The reader’s eye, the camera, is in way too close. And it’s locked down.

    We know this is all taking place on a thrust stage. We know she’s surrounded by seats. But we started up tight and in focus in the catwalks, which was so isolated from the audience that it was a different world. And then we descended with Zinnia, so closely that we were able to compare and contrast the materials of her costume. We get the wardrobe open so the audience can see inside. But… on a thrust stage, only the V directly in front of the wardrobe can do that. So by having this be the moment of the audience’s interaction, as well as supposed apple-catching, we’ve denied the chance for the reader to imagine anything but a constricted, tiny, and over-focused scene, playing against a dark, blurry background. When she goes invisible, or whatever, the reader’s perspective gets even more confused. We’re in the head of a disembodied narrator trying to make us see some things on a platform.

    We’ve also missed every chance for the crowd to respond. We never saw them come in. We don’t know how they’re dressed. We don’t know if some of them are drunk. We don’t know if they’re mostly tourists, repeat attenders of Spellman’s shows, or what. We don’t know if any of the ones on the left of the theatre are craning and stretching because the glass statue rolled out to the right. We don’t get to see if they’re agog at Spellman or getting bored. (And as a person who enjoys being an enthusiastic audience goer, “please be quiet so our leading lady can concentrate” would have me interested and obliging. “Please be quiet, or our performer might etherealize by mistake” would have me rolling my eyes and discreetly checking my phone.)

    This chokehold on the scene not only distances the reader from the setting, but it denies us motivation and depth for Zuul. We don’t see her high on the applause, driven to sacrifice her body for the hit. We don’t see the audience as a shifting and uneasy beast, unimpressed, eroding her confidence and distracting her focus. We don’t see her fumbling stagecraft as she makes sure she’s not making a goofy face while concentrating.

    Imagine a first-time performer trying an act too big for her, unable to back down in front of an audience, trying to connect with all the tiny faces past the clearly visible first few rows. Imagine her realizing mid-performance that her tree blocked seeing the actor. Imagine Zzzzzzzz trying to stage a kiss with an illusion that could not be visually interesting to more than 1/3 of the audience at a time, and realizing that her “boyfriend” was starting to get blurry around the edges while she fought to keep the attention of the audience members who’d just seen a head move in front of a head.

    Scenes have to be living. A huge part of that comes from letting the reader experience the setting. That’s a constant struggle to balance with all the rest that has to get on the page, but it’s important.

    March 10, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Scenes have to be living. A huge part of that comes from letting the reader experience the setting. That’s a constant struggle to balance with all the rest that has to get on the page, but it’s important.

      You bring up a lot of very good points, but more importantly, why this story works much better in the third person and especially with some sense of realism. I think the way Lani Sarem wrote her audience was exactly how she wanted them to be and it’s the constant wish fulfillment that drags it down and makes it less engaging. She didn’t need to work for the crowd’s approval. It was handed to her. She didn’t even need to speak to them to keep them focused and curious; daddy did that for her so she could remain silent, mysterious, and dignified. And someone else mentioned how it’s kind of weird that the last act to send them off wasn’t the head honcho himself, Spellman, but instead his little darling from the middle of Donkey Juice. It’s so sanitized and gift-wrapped that even her injury goes unnoticed.

      If Zade HAD performed this garbage before, knew the drill, and was mostly nailing her magical cues in previous showings, then seeing it finally falter would have more impact and we could get some of that natural audience reaction. Hell, we might even have a reason why they’re so sold from the get-go… maybe it got rave reviews so people are more willing to believe it’s a fine performance since they spent a butt-load of money on tickets.

      But yeah… Spellman trying to play up the stakes especially hinders this, for so many reasons. Really bad patter.

      March 10, 2018
      |Reply
  49. Kim
    Kim

    I’ve long since assumed the majikal illusion of top secret majiks would be incomprehensible once she actually got around to explaining it. What is frustrating is she set up what would have been an impressive ending…and then just blew right past it. Why not have the sand pile turn into the glass sculpture of Zani, then have the lightning effect strike it, freeing her from inside the glass? What the hell do apple trees, Narnia wardrobes, or younger versions of her dad playing guitars have to do with her diving into an on-stage pool from the flyspace?!

    March 11, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      That sounds awesome and would definitely be more impressive than putting a statue into a wardrobe. My suspension of disbelief would be tainted at that point because I would know they would switch out the statue with real Zade in the wardrobe.. It’s more fantastical if you perform magicK in a way that I cannot explain how it’s done. As Jenny pointed out, every magick trick could easily be explained/done with a few tech tricks, lighting, and slight of hand.

      And what does a wardrobe, a guitar, and teenage kissing have to do with the Adam and Eve? I know that the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe has strong religious overtones, but not everyone has read that book. And wouldn’t eating the apples be off-putting considering Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden for eating them? Just exactly what kind of symbolism are they trying to go for here?

      March 11, 2018
      |Reply
  50. Dove
    Dove

    I’m replying down here ’cause that thread got so long. XD

    Actually, the juxtaposition of the high science inherent in a hospital setting against the pure anti-science of magic could have been a very interesting thing to play with. How different are the two? How similar? Can both exist in the same place safely? I’m a fan of the Dresden Files, and in that Dresden has to be very careful around modern tech to keep from making it go haywire because of his magic. He’s even afraid of visiting a friend in the hospital because of what it might do to the machines keeping him alive.

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, but the Dresden example is especially interesting. I presume it wouldn’t be that extreme in H4M but it’d be nice to see the prevalence of science hampering Dela in some way or it could even be a fascinating exploration of a more science-based system (which could work with the epi-pen thing) which we didn’t expect because Zade sure as hell hasn’t been pondering the cosmos as she waved her hands to put a tent together.

    What would have worked better is when Dela calls Charles (at least I think she does just after Zurgle is out) for her to tell Charles she driving to the Nashville airport right then and Charles buying her a ticket on the first plane to Las Vegas, since Dela already knew that their daughter was in danger. Then, if Sarem had wanted to, we could have had the time spent waiting for Dela to arrive for Charles to tell Mac his side of the story. Possibly even finding out that Dela’s broken the spell over the phone so now he can tell the truth. Or at least doing the heavily implying thing I mentioned before. Maybe he tells Mac that magic is real, or maybe he just tells him Dela’s coming because her daughter is in the ER. Most parents would want to be there. Then Dela arrives and drops all pretense of keeping magic a secret from Mac because Zamboni’s life is more important.

    Oh, definitely! That all sounds so much better. And I forgot if Dela called first but either way, having Charles buy her a ticket while Dela tickles the universe into giving her a more expedient timeframe and them going over the details briefly, before Charles explains things to Mac, is much better than using some random personal jet deus ex machina.

    What would have been a good scene is Zimbabwe going to Charles’s home and confronting him there, him telling her about the spell, them having a heart-to-heart, and then him deciding that she should be part of his act and concocting the audition to give her hiring credence. As it’s written it feels like their first meeting is there at the audition. But, if that’s true, why is she getting an audition? There doesn’t seem to be anyone else auditioning that day, so it wasn’t open. Did someone else set this up?

    Yeah, I kind of assumed that’s how it had happened because I don’t buy that they had their heart-to-heart after the audition, even though Zade doesn’t imply that she’s spoken to Charles before then. It’s simply too stilted, poorly timed, and staged for obvious drama. She’d be way more comfortable at his house without any pressure than being grilled in his office. But if that is how it worked out, I prefer your outline.

    Plus, yeah, Zade just walking into his life without any accusations or questions is what really makes things seem distantly surreal. I don’t know if Lani Sarem wasn’t comfortable with or capable of writing their reunion, so she crafted the twist to escape the need, or if she never considered the possibility of hurt and anger, so she didn’t realize what was missing. I mean, maybe both, since Dela and Charles had a pretty weak reconciliation, given how long they were apart, but there were some hints of those feelings revealed.

    I thought it was implied, or at least I took it to be implied that she did it to keep the fact that Zippy is a half-breed secret. I’ve probably just read way too much between the lines and also basing it on the preview of the second book. It could quite well be for the reason you stated.

    That might have been her excuse, but they’d have to know about Charles first. I guess the family knew but I don’t remember if the whole community knew and cared especially since Dela, or Zade, mentioned something about worry her daughter wouldn’t be accepted if she didn’t show any magicks. (But this is Zade so the answer to that is probably a ridiculous yes, the whole world cared about that.) Even so, I still think legal concerns would be more pressing and it’s a neat little trick to get around addressing them. My honest opinion at this point is that most decisions were made to cover up any obvious plot holes without expending effort. It gives Lani Sarem a justified reason to feel angry that people assume she didn’t put in any effort (which she did sparingly and in all the wost ways) and a reason for her readers to be even more irritated (because they can see through her BS.)

    March 11, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Wow. I think we’re thinking about this way more than Sarem ever did.

      I just wonder how much total box-office take she thinks she’s going to get with this, even if 1) the movie is made and 2) distributed at theaters (most indies like this go direct-to-DVD/streaming and bypass movie houses altogether). Kinda tough to be a movie ‘star’ if no one sees the movies . . . .

      On a side note, while I’m sad to see FSOG get a good box-office return, it’s nice to see that the sequels keep underperforming the box office of the first film (domestic US income, mind you) by 31% for Darker while Freed is on track to be off by 39.8% ($166.2M vs. $114.6M & ~$100M for the respective sequels) I’m sure EEL is laughing all the way to the bank, but in the era of #MeToo it’s still sad to see someone profiting off of a story about a billionaire-rapist-stalker-control-freak.

      March 12, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        Wow. I think we’re thinking about this way more than Sarem ever did.

        That goes without saying. Every word feels like Sarem didn’t want to put any more thought in this than it took to type it out. I spend hours pondering how different mythical creatures would take off for the book I’m working on, and this feels like she typed it up in a weekend and didn’t even bother to do a spellcheck.

        As for the movie, Sarem probably expected one of the big names to buy her story off her and have a team of scriptwriters make it passible. Which, honestly, rewritten properly, this could be a halfway decent movie. The truly laughable thing is Sarem thinking they’d cast her as the main character. I don’t want to put her down for her age, but if Hollywood is casting actresses that are actually younger than the actor playing her son, then Sarem was not going to be cast as Zade ever. Now she might have gotten the part of Dela.

        I hadn’t seen the numbers for FSOG but I’m right there with you. I’ve never read these books, but listening and reading reviews of them leave me horrified. But, we still have generations of entertainment that say that his behavior is perfectly acceptable because he loves her. Heck, when I heard about the scene in the beginning of the second book where he drags her outside and shoves his tongue in her mouth, all I could think of was that it was a basic romance move. Han Solo anyone? I think the problem is there’s this “it’s fiction” defense that says it’s ok because it’s not real. But, we have people reading and watching these things, young people, and they aren’t being told that this isn’t real, that this isn’t really how you should behave, or how you should expect to be treated.

        March 12, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I think this is one of the core problems in giving pornography a plot: some of the things that get us off aren’t the same things that actually make sense in a realistic narrative and it becomes awkward when people try to blend the two together. It’s not impossible but it’s like transcribing a dream… In the moment or the correct mindset, it’s stunning. When explained to others who aren’t interested or aren’t in the mood, it can become boring, tasteless, unintentionally amusing, and/or stupid. Worse yet, it really takes a different kind of writing skill to get the most out of such things… I can’t explain exactly why or how. This is why a lot of porn has a cheesy narrative and plot with porn is really different from porn with plot.

          Plus, tropes are really prominent: it’s possible to have fully fleshed out characters but it isn’t necessary and it requires way more experience to get that right because there are certain concessions between fantasy and reality. The more people aim to be realistic the more they need to distinguish the fantasy without necessarily saying that outright. Context clues are extremely important and things get awkward as hell when they aren’t there. I think it’s safe to say if something is labeled as porn, it’s easier to understand beforehand the difference (it can still be troubling, but the taboo may be enough to get the point.) When it’s outside that category, it gets far more problematic and messy.

          Female rape fantasy is a form of dominance/submission play while being the ultimate in desirability and plausibly enjoying humiliation. E.L. James doesn’t understand any of those things, or at least she didn’t when she wrote her fanfiction and turned them into novels. Maybe she learned something, but it sure as hell isn’t in the Fifty Shades trilogy or the movies.

          Sorry if none of that made sense. I’ve delved pretty deeply into this topic before but it’s a little hard to explain what I’ve learned or what I believe anyway.

          March 13, 2018
          |Reply
          • Athena
            Athena

            Oh, no, it makes sense. I’ve had this conversation with friends myself. There’s nothing wrong with consenting adults having sex any way they damn well please. And, there’s nothing wrong with reading romance/erotica novels that play to your particular interests. And, at face value, FSoG has all your basic romance tropes. The Alpha Male that sweeps the Naive Virgin off her feet and shows her sexual delights. I could probably find 500 Harlequin romance novels with the exact same plot. Hell, I used to go through that exact setup like candy, especially in historical romance.

            As well as the “it’s fiction” defense, there’s also this mindset going into books like this that these are the “good” guys. They wouldn’t do anything really wrong because that’s not what the “good” guys do in these books. So readers are more likely to overlook shady behavior because they’re already in that mindset.

            I remember hearing when the first Twilight movie came out, fans were up in arms at how “stalkery” the movie portrayed Edward, even though it was pretty much verbatim what was in the book. They had their blinders on while reading, and Bella’s internal monologue helped to justify his behavior, but then they saw it acted out and the truth came out.

            So yeah, I do believe that if it had been written by a competent writer who understood the nuances of the lifestyle and the drives of the people who are in it, that FSoG could have been a very good book about a woman discovering that she likes kinky sex and humiliation play, and finding the handsome, billionaire playboy that is more than willing to give her exactly what she wants in and out of the playroom. What we got though would have been better as a psychological thriller about a conniving, manipulative man brainwashing a naive and easily led woman.

            March 14, 2018
    • Athena
      Athena

      having Charles buy her a ticket while Dela tickles the universe into giving her a more expedient timeframe and them going over the details briefly, before Charles explains things to Mac, is much better than using some random personal jet deus ex machina.

      It always amuses me that people think private jets are always just waiting on the tarmac for their owner to need them at a moment’s notice like cars. I’m not even in the airline business, but a quick Google search cleared that right up for me. There was probably at least an hour delay while the plane was fueled, the pilot, copilot, and crew were organized, and the flight even cleared.

      I don’t know if Lani Sarem wasn’t comfortable with or capable of writing their reunion, so she crafted the twist to escape the need, or if she never considered the possibility of hurt and anger, so she didn’t realize what was missing.

      One of the very few things I can say Stephanie Meyer did right in the first Twilight book is that Charlie fucking TRIED. He had Bella over every summer, and when she was a brat and refused to go, he went to her. And he kept trying. He kept asking her about school, about her friends, he got her a truck, one that wasn’t only safe but one she would actually like. Now, I never got around to finishing that book, so he may epically fail later, but it was really, really nice to see that he didn’t just pay lip service to being a dad by sending a birthday and Christmas present every year and having no other contact with her.

      Even so, I still think legal concerns would be more pressing

      The more I think about this Charles, the more I wonder if he even wanted Zade. We’re told that he’s still in love with Dela, and I think we’re told he’s upset he missed out on Zade’s life, but Charles was an up and coming performer trying to make a name for himself. Did he really have time to raise a daughter? Yes, he could have come to visit, and maybe that’s what he’s referring to. But it’s also possible that he let his career and ambition get in the way, and Dela leaving him gave him enough reason to believe she didn’t want him in Zade’s life, so it was easy to assuage his guilt. “I’m really busy. Zade’s better off with her mom who can be there for her more, and besides, Dela doesn’t want me around. It’s for the best this way.”

      But honestly, it’s just really poor writing with absolutely no thought in character motivation put into it.

      March 12, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        Yep, also as far as I remember in Twilight Charlie doesn’t really fuck up badly, he doesn’t like Edward, but then again Edward broke up with his daughter which caused her to have a major and unhealthy breakdown. I don’t remember if it WAS in the book but he even urged her to go back to her mother and leave Forks because he thought she needs a clean break and change of climate because of the depression she suffered. Charles doesn’t seem like supportive parent, who wants their daughter to be happy…he just showers Zade with gifts and that’s it and the whole rest of his behaviour is pretty creepy, considering he dates a woman who is close to her age. I mean I’ve got nothing against 20 years difference or whatever between partners, but in this case it makes his interactions with his child creepy.

        March 12, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          We’ll eventually learn why Charles is not in the picture, and it’s quite a good reason. BUT the flaw here is Charles doesn’t act like a father who’s trying to reconnect with his daughter. Even knowing beforehand he’s Zade’s dad still makes his behavior unsettling and predatory. The first thing Zade sees when she comes upon Charles in Vegas is his very young girlfriend hanging off of his arm, giving us the line, “I know that’s now how daughters act around their fathers.” So even Zade feels uncomfortable knowing dear ol’ daddy is fucking someone as young as HER. As you said, there’s nothing wrong with their relationship; they’re both consenting adults, but Lani keeps emphasizing how Sofia is a slut and their relationship is one that’s gonna eventually fail- which it does.

          And then you get this gross shit of Charles asking Mac to come into his office and interrogates him about his relationship as if Charles has the fucking right.

          Now is that the actions of a father who’s trying to rekindle for lost time? Now what’s even worse about all this, I freakin’ LOVE father/child relationships in fiction. I love reading an gruff older man taking in some young kid under his wing and leading them into great things. I will eat it like candy. If you even put so much as a HINT of that into any media I see, I will become an instant fan because mama has no goddamn restraint.

          I sense not a single iota of such a relationship in HFM. The fact my heart doesn’t go bump-a-bump is telling.

          March 12, 2018
          |Reply
          • Athena
            Athena

            I just realized the core problem with Zade and Charles’s relationship. It’s a plot convenience. Sarem needed a reason for Zade to go to Vegas so she could become a big star. That’s the focal point of this whole book, Zade’s stardom. But, instead of writing a book where the character claws her way to the top through talent and hard work, she gets it handed to her by her conveniently famous father. Nothing else is given as much time as Zade going on and on about showbiz and how cool it is to have fans. Even Carrot and Wayne are her fans! The romance with Mac is really the only other thing she even halfway tried at and it shows by how flat everyone else is by comparison, even Charles.

            March 12, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            Now is that the actions of a father who’s trying to rekindle for lost time? Now what’s even worse about all this, I freakin’ LOVE father/child relationships in fiction. I love reading an gruff older man taking in some young kid under his wing and leading them into great things. I will eat it like candy. If you even put so much as a HINT of that into any media I see, I will become an instant fan because mama has no goddamn restraint.

            I sense not a single iota of such a relationship in HFM. The fact my heart doesn’t go bump-a-bump is telling.

            *applauds* Well-said and I’m in the same boat. I can’t get enough of that, especially if it’s his daughter or some random girl having a hard time and in need of a safe role model. Bonus points if he’s teaching her how to fight her own battles.

            Now, I’ve also got a thing for older men and younger women in a romantically protective and/or tutorial manner (even old men with a middle-aged woman) so it really chafes to find out the closest we get is the fake love triangle and yet EVEN THAT is barely there! Charles and Zade barely interact (this holds true if the scenes handed over to Jackson are returned to Charles); it’s either Zade rolling around in his money or it’s a creepy, roundabout set-up for the reunion of Dela and Charles, which I could enjoy, except it’s also poorly written, there was barely any build-up, and it’s not what I was promised in the slightest. Ugh.

            I mean, why couldn’t Lani Sarem devote book 1 to Zade being reunited with him, and then use book 2 or book 3 to reunite Dela with Charles? Because she didn’t give a shit. Unfortunately, there is no happy medium for what she’s done. As Athena said, it’s pure plot convenience and contrivance. Charles is a machine for handing out unearned rewards and he’s a trophy as well. I could probably enjoy the latter if some fucking effort went into winning him over but just… yuck. He isn’t even a character. ;_;

            March 13, 2018
        • Athena
          Athena

          In reality, Sarem wrote Charles to be the “perfect” father, and to her, the perfect father is a bottomless wallet. In the story, however, this smacks of Charles simply wanting to buy Zade’s forgiveness, either out of guilt, or expediency. Since the only hint of them spending quality time together is the tickets to someone else’s act, it doesn’t feel like either of them are really putting the effort into reconnecting. Yes, there’s this new act they’ve worked on, but it doesn’t have the same feeling of bonding time. Maybe because it’s work?

          Also, am I the only one that gets flashes of the Primadonna song from Phantom of the Opera during Charles’s gushing at the restaurant?

          March 12, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Signora, no.
            The world wants YOU.

            March 12, 2018
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        It always amuses me that people think private jets are always just waiting on the tarmac for their owner to need them at a moment’s notice like cars. I’m not even in the airline business, but a quick Google search cleared that right up for me. There was probably at least an hour delay while the plane was fueled, the pilot, copilot, and crew were organized, and the flight even cleared

        And this even assumes the crew is well rested enough to be on a red-eye (graveyard) shift. Airlines have the rest requirements for a reason–so they don’t go to sleep at the end of the flight and wind up plowing into the cumulo-granite.

        Also, it helps when there’s an actual airport at the destination. Sarem didn’t even bother to check, but there’s no airport at either Centertown (Donkey Juice) or Woodbury where she claims they land. The closest is in the opposite direction at the Warren County airport in McMinnville.

        So if Spud-man has his own theater and performs there nightly and has done so for years and years, why does he even have a bizjet? One pays millions for the things, they suck jetfuel like no tomorrow (read: $$$$$) and they have to be maintained (read: $$$$). and kept in a hangar ($$) For having a show where everyone comes to him, what is the benefit of all those expenses? That’s a HUGE drain on the theater’s operating expenses. I’m liking Spunk-man even less for being so financially irresponsible . . . .

        March 13, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I just wonder how bad it’ll get for him once OSHA makes their final report after having TWO actresses nearly die on scene within the same year. Especially after it’s revealed Mac, the goddamn safety director, left his post to SMOKE, leaving an inexperienced, unqualified fool to cover for him. Mac will not only get fined, but fired, and Charles will probably lose his position– especially after news getting out of said two near-deaths were his girlfriend and daughter. You can’t maintain your millions when you’re too busy trying to keep the press of your back, paying off all those fees, and now losing your position of magician because OSHA deemed you as an awful employer.

          Then again, this is the same idiot who bought Zade thousands of dollars worth of makeup, makeup she will never use if only by the sheer quantity she has. So maybe Charles doesn’t care how much he’ll spend/lose.

          March 13, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Maybe he’s insured them both….
            Lani, your story doesn’t belong in the movies. It belongs on 20/20 or Dateline.

            March 13, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            You really think Zade isn’t going to mind-wipe the investigators into saying that dear ole daddy and her boitoi were completely innocent of any wrongdoing and both incidents were completely and utterly random craziness where no one was at fault? Especially with Dela on the team now. They’ll probably have everyone believing it was totally all Sofia’s fault because she wasn’t wearing her safety harness. After all, she wouldn’t have fallen off if she’d been wearing it, now would she? And Zade? She… uh… had an allergic reaction to… to Sofia’s perfume! Yeah! That’s what happened!

            March 13, 2018
          • small jar of fireflies
            small jar of fireflies

            He left his post after some kind of altercation with the star performer, something that involved his manhandling her and leaving very suddenly before her first performance.

            It’s as if the characters are so bored they’re pretending they’re in another novel. This one appears to be some kind of murder mystery.

            March 14, 2018
        • Athena
          Athena

          I forgot about the crew being rested. I couldn’t remember where she said they landed. I just assumed Nashville or Murfreesboro. It amazes me how much Google fail is in this book.

          I’m not surprised Charles has a private jet. It’s a shorthand approach to saying that a character is super wealthy. And in the story itself, the more I think about Charles, the more he comes off as an egotistical douche. I have no doubt that he would risk bankruptcy of himself and his theater to be able to claim he has his own private jet. Now maybe, maybe he occasionally takes the act out on the road, but riding first class on commercial airlines or tour buses make more sense in that respect.

          March 13, 2018
          |Reply
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Blandbook for Chortles puts the landing at Woodbury where there is very definitely no airport.

            But I guess I’m expecting too much, like basic, fundamental research, right?

            March 13, 2018
  51. Cody Cromarty
    Cody Cromarty

    The Something Awful sporking of this brings up the big point behind that homunculus of Charles: Zade just CREATED LIFE. She’s got an animate, perfectly realistic humanoid golem running around on stage as part of her act.

    This brings up incredible ethical concerns. Does it have feelings? Does it have a soul, and if not does that mean it ceases to exist when Zade removes it? Does it live in an empty void of nothingness to be summoned for a few minutes per act? If so, will it begin begging for help after a while?

    March 12, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      If it’s anything like the rest of us, it’d be begging for mercy to rid ourselves from this miserable story . . . . .

      March 12, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      I got the feeling it was more just a puppet. A really advanced puppet that could at least mime a guitar solo (I don’t know what the instrumental equivalent to lip syncing is), but just a puppet programmed to do it’s moves. Though that does beg the question, did it just vanish when Zade passed out? It’s never mentioned again, so either yes, or it’s now wandering Las Vegas, playing guitar and not taking the money people toss to it.

      March 12, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Though that does beg the question, did it just vanish when Zade passed out? It’s never mentioned again, so either yes, or it’s now wandering Las Vegas, playing guitar and not taking the money people toss to it.

        OH GOD *dies* Now I want to read about that. It sounds great! What if some kind soul thought the simulacrum was a mentally disabled teenage runaway in need of help and they took it in, only to be flabbergasted by its lack of functions, then they thought maybe it was a robot from the future and went searching for help on the internet? And of course, the magic community would take note. Hands down, one of the best spin-offs.

        March 13, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          I just remembered that each of them took a bite of the apple and “vanished” from the stage, so more than likely that’s where the simulacrum went. Of course, that’s if Zade actually had the forethought to make him truly disappear. And even if she did, that just opens up a whole other set of questions. The crew’s going to be wondering who the heck that guy was, where he came from, and where did he go? If Zade has been keeping people from asking, she’s passed out, no way to do that now? Did Zeb cover for her? Has he been the one messing with the crew’s minds to keep magic a secret this whole time since Zade is so obviously bad at it? This makes a lot of sense and would give him a reason to argue with Charles and tell off Zade.

          March 14, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            I’m imagining it popping like a balloon after it eats the apple…

            As for Zeb, he probably was covering her tracks, although they did notice she was injured and I think technically she doesn’t blot that out later so now I’m seriously not sure what the hell they did to keep OSHA out of this. It’s probably the first nuanced aftermath they’ve had in awhile since he seems to be subtler and realistically nothing can be proved as a result of a malfunction (all of the equipment and props that can be produced would turn up clean) so they’d probably attribute her reaction to a sudden unknown illness, which I guess the doctor would back-up. I mean, I know Charles added to the coverup but I forget whatever BS was said and that’s just to his crew, not to the authorities.

            The only reason Mac is in the clear is because of that, honestly, although his actions are still spurious so I’m gonna assume Riley never actually saw him get aggressive or that’d raise red-flags unless Zade covered it up but I’m more inclined to believe she made that whole scene up to make Mac feel bad. Mac realized that he needed to clear his head, made a poor decision involving Cam’s worst anxiety, OR he got the guy who was trained as the board understudy because she did mention that shit a while ago (so it being Cam was a lie), and then he left for a smoke break without talking to her makes more sense. For that matter, it sounds as if Mac didn’t leave immediately, I mean, a smoke break is like 5 minutes unless he’s smoking the whole pack and someone suggested that’s as long as the scene is but I get the feeling it was meant to be closer to 20-30 minutes at least with lots of time for the audience to gasp and take it all in as stuff spins around or something?

            Then again, I get the feeling “MAC NEVER CALLS OUT SICK” was supposed to be a hint that there’s no one who can replace Mac which is BS. Someone has to run safety in case something happens to him and they had to have a backup for the board, sworn to secrecy, in case he desperately needs to take a shit at the very least.

            Sorry I didn’t mean to take this tangent.

            March 14, 2018
        • Cody Cromarty
          Cody Cromarty

          I think we just created a better book out of this.

          We need to start writing immediately.

          March 14, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            I think we just created a better book out of this.

            Just about every comment is like that. It’s a really low bar to leap across. :p

            We need to start writing immediately.

            I would but I have way too many half-finished projects as it is. You’ve got my blessing if you want to run off and give it some life though. I wholeheartedly approve and I’d totally read that. XD

            March 14, 2018
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          You realize, of course, that Zerk could have created more than one simulacrum due to her lack of prowess with mag-ICK. So one could be your panhandler-not-taking-money and another could be evil-Spock using the guitar to assault hapless tourists. And those that fall in-between. One could play guitar but can’t sing. Another could sing but can’t play worth diddly. There could be hundreds created every time she performs.

          March 14, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Holy termites, the woman is a public menace!

            March 14, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            It’s an army of Charles Spellman. That would be kinda cool except this is supposedly the first time she has ever performed this “illusion” so I’m betting she didn’t even summon him until that night: she used daddy to fill in for the fake. XD

            March 14, 2018
  52. Could Lani have thought that “Dela” should be pronounced “DEE-lah”? So that the nickname would be “DEE-lee”?

    March 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Nah. There’s a bad joke about sandwiches if I remember correctly.

      March 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “Hey there, DEE-lee-lah”

      March 14, 2018
      |Reply
  53. Maths GCSE graduate
    Maths GCSE graduate

    So Lani Sarem and Mr. JizzBeer claimed in Vulture that they sold 2,100 copies of her unprinted book per convention.

    Just doing some quick maths – say, 3 dates per convention, 9 hours in each day that they’re pushing these non-existent books out -that’s 1,620 minutes of selling time (97,200 seconds)

    97,200 seconds / 2,100 copies = 46 seconds.

    Is my maths wrong? Or did they sel1 one book every 46 seconds?

    I mean…that’s pretty impressive guys. Maybe we should all lay off her.

    March 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • Cody Cromarty
      Cody Cromarty

      She left out the part where her “sales” were just hurling books at people passing by and counting it if she scored a headshot.

      March 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        “And you get a book, and you get a book! YOU ALL GET BOOKS!”

        March 16, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Everyone in this hilarious thread gets a book!

          Consolation prize for other threads, TWO books!

          March 16, 2018
          |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      Nah. She and Rookie-boy bought 1,050 each. Ten seconds of work, then they could go play at the con. Cause Lani Sarem strikes me as the type to play 99.9% of a working con.

      March 17, 2018
      |Reply
  54. the-great-dragon
    the-great-dragon

    I’m really confused about the tree.

    Was it a real tree? I mean, did it have roots (because wouldn’t that ruin the stage? Unless the sand pile was big enough.)

    How big was the impact when the tree fell after being cut? Did Zade soften it magically or something?

    Also, if Dad Jr. fell the tree with a single swing of an axe, I’d assume it was a fake tree tbh, which would definitely undercut the performance.

    Idk. I don’t get it.

    March 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      The tree grew in the piles of horsepuckey contained in this book.

      That is one fertilized tree!

      March 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      We’re all confused about all of it. Sarem doesn’t describe anything. We don’t know where Charles and Zade are in relation to one another, the audience, anything. We don’t know what Charles is wearing, what she’s wearing, what the Young Charles is wearing, except that she has a velvet cloak that only flutters a little. I have a feeling Jenny wouldn’t have cut us out on knowing what eye-searing costumes Sarem thought would be amazing in the book if the author had bothered writing them, so I’m fairly certain they aren’t in the actual book. Also, we’re not treated to the knowledge of exactly what is being played. Given that Sarem loves to turn this into a songfic, my guess on that is that she couldn’t think of a song with words that perfectly matched the scene to the point where she could sync them to happening at the same time as what’s on stage.

      I could go on about the lack of detail in this chapter, especially when it flies in the face of how Sarem has written other parts of the book, gushing over name brands and how awesome her self-insert looks in them, but I digress.

      Don’t feel bad about being confused about the tree. We mere readers are not meant to question, we are meant to sit in awe at the amazingness that is Zade and bask in her utter brilliance.

      The lack of description though, even before the scene was dissected and held up to other shows, was a dead giveaway that Sarem was just using other people’s content and shoving Zade into it. It just felt like she was going through the motions, not putting her character in the moment. Posters of this movie are going to be posters for Cirque de Soleil with Lani Sarem’s face badly photoshopped onto them.

      March 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        “…and then a tiger came out of nowhere! An egg-colored tiger! The toilet paper-colored tiger sat down and started to eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes! While it ate, a man came on the stage. Criss Angel- er… David Devil walked onto the scene- not a lot of people know this, but he looked like an older version of my brother….if I had a brother- and he began to sing to the snow-colored tiger. The milk-colored tiger sat down, and suddenly I was there, rubbing its belly. The light-grey colored tiger began to shift into a man, who began kissing me.”

        March 17, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          “Tigers are great! They can’t be beat! If I was a tiger, that would be neat!”

          March 17, 2018
          |Reply
      • the-great-dragon
        the-great-dragon

        Thanks for this response, it made me feel better! I really was feeling like I was just missing something here. The whole thing is baffling.

        Also, that’s a great point with the song, but I have to confess that I actually mentally filled in Heaven by Lamb during the scenes, which makes me feel bad, because I like that song (but I heard it in a play with similar themes to the performance piece in this book.) I literally did the songfic work for the author.

        March 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          I’m glad you feel better. It is rather baffling that this scene is so bland and lifeless when it honestly would lend itself well to some purple prose. Again, in one of the few scenes of this book where all the author’s ticks would be useful, we get nothing.

          March 19, 2018
          |Reply
      • Cody Cromarty
        Cody Cromarty

        I read the book myself for a Let’s Read thread on the Something Awful forums. Jenny’s not leaving out important details, and in fact her updates have MORE of the text than mine did!

        You’ll notice how Lani only describes anything that’s actually considered important to her vision for the final movie adaptation and anything else is just left to the imagination. Mac and Jackson get paragraphs describing them over and over (including their outfits almost down to their underwear and socks), while we know nothing of what Cam looks like beyond being “too perfect”.

        March 19, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          But that’s even more baffling! We get NO description on Zade’s costume for the show. This is where the dress porn would’ve into play, this is where the long drawn-out description would’ve been justified. I don’t wanna know what the hell Zade is wearing on her casual day off. Everyone wears jeans and a simple shirt. That’s not important. This illusion is important, thus her dress would be important.

          I was imagining Zade wearing a costume a lot like skaters wore, something glittery and thin. But who knows? Certainly not Lani.

          March 19, 2018
          |Reply
          • Cody Cromarty
            Cody Cromarty

            Since she doesn’t explicitly describe anything elaborate, I’m going to assume she’s in her regular street clothes (cheap blouse, “swishy” wide-legged jeans, and Chucks) with a velvet cloak.

            March 19, 2018
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

            Nah. Even Lani got bored with the first 2/3 of the book and was most likely over-anxious to get to this chapter. Once she started to actually write she got too excited to actually describe what she saw in her head, so very little of it actually made it to the page . . .

            March 19, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I was imagining Zade wearing a costume a lot like skaters wore, something glittery and thin. But who knows? Certainly not Lani.

            I assumed it was a long, slinky gown (velvety or silky) underneath because of witches: medieval/swanky party combo. But she doesn’t describe the hem of her dress fluttering either so you might be right. XD

            As for the answer, I don’t think it was excitement as MyDog’sPA suggests. This scene was in the original script, and as we’ve postulated she cribbed from watching some other movies, so she didn’t have to adapt as much and she wanted it to seem more generic than it was for purposes of hiding what her inspiration was. So, Lani may or may not have watched her inspirations again to add more details, which could’ve impacted how much she bothered to expand on once she had to for the novel.

            And I believe the dress description was left out because she wanted something beautiful but didn’t want to be pinned down by picking it herself in the movie script. Lani Sarem wanted the costume department to give her the perfect dress and while she doesn’t get that theatre makeup and everyday makeup are different, I think she would defer to the experts in this case. My guess is that she really wanted that cloak so it was always in there (it’s like a superhero cape after all) or maybe her inspiration had a beautiful cloak. Then laziness (and probably being sick and tired of the book, I’ll buy that part entirely) took over again once she got to the action scene so she only added as much as she needed to make it prose instead of stage directions.

            March 20, 2018
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Perfectly valid as my thought was based on what was written in the book.

            March 20, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            I would honestly think a gauzy, white dress to make her look like some ethereal angel coming down from on high would have made more sense given the Creation overtones. A heavy, red velvet cape doesn’t seem to fit, but of course, that’s probably more to do with the lack of description and overall sense of the scene than anything else.

            Dove, this scene does have the feel of someone recounting something from memory, and not just because of the first person POV.

            “Then she came down from the sky, and she had this AMAZING cape. I don’t remember what else she was wearing, but the cape was seriously cool. Then he said some stuff, and she waved her arms and water moved. Then there was this huge flash of lightning, and a tree grew… There was a glass statue in there somewhere too…”

            MyDog’s PA, I’m not sure she was excited about this scene. This feels very going through the motions. I think she’s really wanting to get to the next bit. The part with Charles and Dela is honestly some of the best in this book, though that’s a pretty low bar. That makes me feel like this was the part she was skimming to get to the “fun” part.

            March 20, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            You’d think the illusion, the illusion that this whole book was building up to, is the “fun part.”

            I like the idea of Zade wearing a medieval dress, it would definitely match with the cloak, but doesn’t match with the theme of the illusion. It just reminded me of the thoughts Zade had in the beginning where she’s like, “i love rennasiance faires and I always wanted a personal dressmaker to make me soemthing so unique that only I would have it…”

            Like what shoes is she wearing? How is her hair done– i don’t think her multi-colored hair would fit in. Is the glass statue naked or clothed? If Zade is floating down, wouldn’t it make sense for her to have angel/fairy wings? Would the underage incestuous boy match her in clothing? If he’s mostly naked as I assume, would Zade also be mostly naked?

            Cause Charles looks like Han Solo, and the kid looks like Charles, is lani banking having that new young actor playing Han solo be in the movie?

            Since there was no description of zade landing on something soft when she “fainted,” I keep imagining her slamming full force onto the stage with a loud echoing THUD.

            Lastly, for the final act where Zade is the star… she’s only on stage for half of the time. She comes down on a wire, disappears, and doesn’t reappear until the wardrobe pops up.

            March 20, 2018
          • the-great-dragon
            the-great-dragon

            I feel like I’m in the minority here on descriptors – heavy descriptions just confuse me. Like, Harry Potter was the worst for me, because JK Rowling would describe things and I’d just tune out for three paragraphs. (I had no idea what dressing gowns looked like until the fourth movie came out, and they were nothing like what I was picturing tbh.)

            I feel like if this chapter was more like “I was wearing a sequined bodysuit that twinkled gold in the dim light of the upper platform” it wouldn’t add much for me.

            March 20, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I feel like I’m in the minority here on descriptors – heavy descriptions just confuse me. Like, Harry Potter was the worst for me, because JK Rowling would describe things and I’d just tune out for three paragraphs. (I had no idea what dressing gowns looked like until the fourth movie came out, and they were nothing like what I was picturing tbh.)

            I feel like if this chapter was more like “I was wearing a sequined bodysuit that twinkled gold in the dim light of the upper platform” it wouldn’t add much for me.

            Hrmm… I mean, technically what she’s wearing doesn’t matter. The depth of description that’s necessary is always a tough and contentious point for authors because there is a lot that the reader can fill in for themselves and the actual importance really does vary by scene. Some people want more of their vision to come to life, others prefer sparse indication, and sometimes it is necessary to know more. Your questions regarding the tree highlight that, as do other questions regarding the entire performance, but the outfit is a little superfluous. I personally would enjoy some description, like what you’ve given or even something like the cloak flutter (but written better) because it shows some interaction with the setting or it could help put us in the moment, make the situation really stand-out and feel special for us, but it’s a much smaller concern compared to visualizing the act and putting us, the readers, into the world around her.

            I think the bigger issue is, as Athena said (and I think someone else also noted), it’s more like she’s just rambling on about some memory. That could be fine, but her descriptions are so inconsistent throughout the entire narrative (super detailed versus sparse detail) and this is theoretically such an important scene (where she could explain a lot about magic and what’s happening) that it’s kind of annoying. It’s also amusing how she detailed every other outfit except this one, even though I think I know why. Kind of ironic. XD

            March 20, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            Yes, I agree. Throughout the entire book Lani overwrites description, padding out the book. For example: the scene where she bitches about hearing what a woman had for breakfast, and then proceeds to tell the audience what the breakfast was. But here, the scene of the big illusion, one the major climaxes of the book, and it’s written like Lani forgot or didn’t care about the details.

            It’s just baffling how Lani will write literal essay-long paragraphs about a shirt vest, but forgo details on the what should be the best part of the book.

            March 20, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            the-great-dragon, as Dove said, there’s definitely a line between too much and too little description. We don’t need sonnets composed to Zade’s costume in this scene, but a little more description, at least to give us a sense of place would have been preferable than what we’ve got. It goes back to the writing advice, Show, don’t tell. Sarem is telling us what is going on. She’s not letting us into her world, she’s just telling us about it. Does that make sense?

            Amy, you’d think this would be the fun scene, but Sarem has already shown us with Lambo Girl that the action and intrigue portions of this book aren’t her cup of tea. She’d much rather give us chapters of uninteresting dating and pseudo-incest than anything of real substance. Like Twilight, FSoG, and their ilk, the action is an afterthought thrown in to make the book less boring to the readers who aren’t in it strictly for the romance angst.

            March 21, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            She’d much rather give us chapters of uninteresting dating and pseudo-incest than anything of real substance. Like Twilight, FSoG, and their ilk, the action is an afterthought thrown in to make the book less boring to the readers who aren’t in it strictly for the romance angst.

            Sadly, romantic angst isn’t her cup of tea either. Dela and Charles don’t count, even though they’re the only decent source: we don’t see much before they reconcile and by the time the reader gets to their backstory, they’ll take whatever they can get. The execution is still problematic overall and the wedding isn’t that satisfying.

            TBH I think the action in romance stories is best used for two things: inciting incidents, which push the stubborn lovers into breaking down unnecessary barriers or force them to be erected in the first place, and the hurt/comfort genre. The former tends to be the most common overall and people do use it to inject interest, but its main purpose should be to move the actual plot along. I’ve found that attempts to use action to wake people up are the worst idea ever because the author probably isn’t into whatever they’ve concocted and the reader in question won’t be satisfied anyway because it probably isn’t a true hybrid of action and romance.

            March 22, 2018
  55. Athena
    Athena

    Starting a new thread down here.

    First off, I’d just like to state that I wasn’t dissing romance novels. I hope it didn’t sound like I was. Strictly romance plots are fine if done well and the reader can get invested in the characters. I personally though prefer your first example where the main plot is the action/mystery and that drives the two characters together, where they work together and find out they have chemistry. I’d be much more invested in Zade/Mac if say, Mac had been at the mall and seen the Lambo Girl attack. Now he knows about magic, and instead of mindwiping him, Zade goes against the never explained “rules” and lets him into her world while they BOTH try to figure out why Lambo Girl attacked Zade. Though, as it stands, I doubt Mac would be much help given that he didn’t give a crap about what caused the platform malfunction that almost killed Sofia.

    March 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      First off, I’d just like to state that I wasn’t dissing romance novels. I hope it didn’t sound like I was.

      I don’t think you were! I was just pointing out how the novel lets everyone down. XD

      Strictly romance plots are fine if done well and the reader can get invested in the characters.

      Absolutely. It just takes a much better writer with a specific vision to go that route. I liked what you suggested here, it’s an obvious choice to take the story in: there are natural stakes so it feels more organic and interesting, but Lani Sarem didn’t even need Lambo Girl. Problem is, it would take philosophy and a really interesting magic system to convince Mac in a more subtle manner, but it could be quite sensual and intimate if done right.

      You know, I’d kind of like to see what could’ve been if Charles didn’t get back together with Dela, he loves Sophia big time and is happy with her (maybe she works in Cirque instead of his act.) Then his adult daughter turning up was simply Charles debating how much he wants to be in her life now and how to make that work, while Zade has to come to terms with her step-mother and actually befriending Sophia for real, over time, as she gets to know Sophia and Charles at the same time.

      Then her relationship with Mac could’ve been a surprise and Zade is going slow because she’s more focused on her dad right now, but she really does have chemistry with Mac and she has to decide how to ease him into the truth about magic. Then Mac is skeptical but ultimately open-minded about how much it means to her and the ending is Zade coming to terms with the past and present, with dating Mac as a sign that she’s comfortable in accepting what can’t be changed and she wants to pursue the future. In this instance, it’d probably be better if Zade already had a career that she’s happy in, she has everything else that she thinks she wants (she’s not currently concerned about a romantic relationship, which is why she’s single), and the only hole in her heart is her dad, who she finally tracked down and got into contact with. So, Zade gets introduced to illusions and stuff the way the reader does, knowing nothing and learning a little, and she might be pissed off that her dad chose his idiotic career over a family with her mom, but then she sort of ended up doing the same thing (without a pregnancy involved.) Maybe she’s a photographer? Or something cool that involves frequent travel.

      That could’ve been amazing without any real action to speak of, and it could be a great movie with interesting visuals, but that would’ve required a much more experienced author and a passion for human relationtionships in general. And that’s the real crux of the problem with this novel; it lacks humanity.

      March 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        No, I’d just ben looking at my last comment and realized it might come off anti-romance.

        I like your suggestion too, though magic would be completely unnecessary in this scenario. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Like so much else in this book, it serves no real purpose. It’s not even the real catalyst for Zade’s moving to Las Vegas. She says she wants a normal life, but then runs off to Vegas? No. Running off to be with her dad though, that makes sense, even if it does insinuate that you have to have a father in your life to have a normal one. This story could have been told without any “real” magic and it would have been the exact same thing, except Charles would have had to be upfront about why he hired Zade and more than likely Zade would have had to have worked her way up to star because she couldn’t have used her magic to make it look like she was an illusionist. Actually, cutting out magic makes the story immediately better.

        And that’s the real crux of the problem with this novel; it lacks humanity.

        Ain’t that the truth. It’s obvious the author didn’t care about any of the characters except her self-insert, thus Zade doesn’t really care about anyone but herself. And it’s so obvious in the text that the readers can’t care for Zade because she’s such an obvious bitch.

        We can see her altering what happened with Sofia in her mind, her narcissistic attitude at Jackson’s band’s performance and when working with the costumer, her pettiness with Lemonade Girl, and again how she twists the events with the bike guy to make him this horrible monster deserving of her wrath. And then she throws Sofia a token bone just to make herself look better, not because she actually gives a shit about her. How is anyone supposed to honestly like this person?

        Sorry, went off on a tangent there. The point I think I was trying to make was that there is no humanity in the book because Sarem didn’t want Zade to be human. She wanted her to be this all-powerful Godkin right down to calling lesser beings “mortals” right there in the text. That’s why in my personal headcanon, it wasn’t Mac leaving that screwed up the magic, it was Karma/Kismet/TPTB giving her the astral bitchslap she so richly deserved. Hoisted on her own petard for using magic so recklessly.

        March 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I like your suggestion too, though magic would be completely unnecessary in this scenario.

          Oh, yeah, I considered just removing the magic idea partway through typing up my reply, since it was irrelevant to the story being told, then I left it in out of laziness. Thinking that over though, I think it’d be kind of nice if the magic wasn’t integral. It could be handled multiple ways, but overall it would just be a part of who Zade is and not some grand significant aspect of her life, so Mac’s acceptance of it would just be accepting her overall (she could even be Wicca instead of a fantasy witch, although I like the contrast of a Jewish woman with magic powers, if handled well.)

          I realize that this detail could also distract from the more realistic narrative, but if you tie it into something like “just because magic exists, that doesn’t mean fairy tales are real” then it could work (Sophia, for example, could be viewed as an “evil stepmother” until this is washed away with who she is as a person.) Of course, you could also try tying it into the 1,001 Nights but that would require having someone telling a story within a story within a story. Which would be really cool but again would need way more effort, vision, and interest.

          I think it’s better if Zade doesn’t get hired by her father in general. I agree it’d be better if she had to learn illusions like everyone else, but I think having her work for him (at least that directly) just destroys everything in the narrative. Going back to my random career example, it’d be different if he hired her to take some professional photos for some fliers or his website or whatever, and her helping him by having him practice in front of her works as well, getting feedback from her, but having them both do the exact same job feels stilted, unnatural, and extremely boring. I mean, yes, they could bond with him showing her how a few simple illusions work and maybe she liked playing around with some that he taught her when she was a kid, but unless the author wants to devote some serious time to her getting professionally good at illusions as a way to get her father’s attention when she grows up and then the author using her as a way to both explain the things she’d know and learn about the things she wouldn’t, which would take some serious research and won’t appeal to everyone, I think it makes the characters too similar?

          The whole point is how they should have some trouble connecting and I feel like this… isn’t exactly cheating but it’s too easy. Unless the author can showcase how this doesn’t automatically make them understand one another, it feels like Zade is using illusions to pursue her father and make him like her and that could work but it kind of destroys some of her individuality and makes him less interesting or mysterious. This is also why I think Sophia is better off working in a different show (along with the whole “married her boss” issue complicating things a little bit.)

          But I’m putting way more thought into this than Lani Sarem ever did.

          Sorry, went off on a tangent there. The point I think I was trying to make was that there is no humanity in the book because Sarem didn’t want Zade to be human. She wanted her to be this all-powerful Godkin right down to calling lesser beings “mortals” right there in the text.

          Yeah, sadly. She even made her presumed boy-toy into Clark Kent-without-Superman so she could look down on him. D:

          That’s why in my personal headcanon, it wasn’t Mac leaving that screwed up the magic, it was Karma/Kismet/TPTB giving her the astral bitchslap she so richly deserved. Hoisted on her own petard for using magic so recklessly.

          I have 100% agreement with that, especially since she got bitch-slapped shortly after the worst of her behavior. And on top of that, I seriously think she riled Mac up with false memories so she could use his chaotic emotions like a battery. Another reckless, awful thing… Almost like having the monster turn on the scientist that created them. Not with Mac man-handling her, I think that was fabricated for further effect, but with the chaos lightening suddenly getting out of control and turning on her at the end. I firmly believe she dropped to the stage with a loud thud, and then she took an echoing, thunderous shit in her fancy pants before going comatose. XD

          This is like the only time I’m disinclined to believe the female character with regards to abuse, btw. Zade is too horrible to take at face value, even if the author was simply trying to follow the generic and slightly horrible tropes surrounding a male love interest.

          March 25, 2018
          |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Oops, forgot to add, with regards to Zade still having magic, you could even bring up the whole “why didn’t you just time travel or some other magic spell to keep them together?”

          And Zade is like “Hey, I tried… I was a dumb kid and I did that, but you know what? It didn’t work and I just got used to it. And it’s cold comfort that I’m not the only one but… heh, I guess it makes me fit in better than anything else did. At the end of the day, I’m only human.”

          Because, you know, that whole being normal ideal. XD

          March 25, 2018
          |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Oh, crap, I keep thinking of stuff. Alternatively, Zade tries to use magic to fake knowing how illusions work, and the crew gets wise but can’t quite explain how she’s doing things and get scared that she’s practicing some unsafe techniques that could go haywire and get the show canceled. Then Charles pulls her from the act before anything can go wrong and gets a private confession from her where she admits she just wanted his love and attention. In this instance, he might coax her into handling less worrisome tasks and looking for a new job before quitting her job with him. In this instance, he’d hire her and it’s nepotism but it doesn’t quite work out. Might not work with the other stuff in this case.

          In general, I like the theme of “magic doesn’t solve everything” and that could be done lots of ways and still keep a fantasy element in the mix. This example would also allow for some tension with Mac but he’s genuinely concerned about her welfare and that of everyone else, as is Charles. And then she could get a career in something else she’s much better suited for, even one for like the magic government or whatever the fuck magic-users might do in this setting (lol detective mage maybe.)

          But, uh, it definitely takes more prominence than the general “getting to know you and see how this works” might, so that could remain but it’d be a lot more subdued. Less non-existant than it currently is, for sure.

          Okay, I think I’m done postulating now.

          March 25, 2018
          |Reply

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