Every time I think, “You know, I’m going to run out of Handbook For Mortals shenanigans before we get to the end of the recaps,” I am proved wrong. So, this installment brings us…
Awesome tweeter Aron alerted me to this press release, tweeted by an account called ADA IT Solutions. Since Handbook For Mortals has nothing at all to do with either the Americans with Disabilities Act or improved access to technology as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s pretty clear that Cision PR Newswire’s strategy seems to be “throw something at the wall and see if it sticks.” Which falls right in line with Handbook and Lani Sarem, who both receive a generous re-branding as we steam toward the release of the movie.
Author Lani Sarem, whose initial offering Handbook for Mortalsdebuted at No. 34 on the USA Today Bestseller list, continues promotion on the national Comic Con circuit alongside American Pie, Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas. The film is scheduled to shoot later this year, based on the book. In a year of empowering females within the industry, it’s important to note that the film is not only very female-driven, but also includes a strong female protagonist, female director, female line producer and Sarem herself as the author.
No longer billed as a New York Times bestseller, this bulletin is content to celebrate the (also scammed) success of the book as a USA Today bestseller. I mean, who needs a big flashy label when you’re suddenly, out of absofuckinglutely nowhere, a juggernaut of feminist power? I mean, a female director (probably Lani Sarem), a female line producer (also probably Lani Sarem), and a strong female protagonist who never has to work to get anything she wants because her daddy gives it to her? Hold onto your pussy hats, ladies, we’re going to the theater!
Handbook for Mortals is about a young woman with supernatural powers who joins a Las Vegas magic show only to find that love is more dangerous than magick.
It certainly is for the girl at Hot Dog On A Stick who’s covered in broken glass and lemonade.
Sarem and Nicholas took an interesting approach to find an early audience for the franchise. Nicholas was booked as a celebrity guest at many conventions including Motor City, Alamo City and all the Wizard World Comic Cons starting early in 2017. They promoted the story and pre-sold Handbook for Mortals all across the country before the book even had a cover. In fact, it was at Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia where they met comic book artist Ryan M. Kincaid, who ultimately drew the cover art.
If I’m ever accused of a crime, I’m going to use that line. I didn’t burn that house down. I “took an interesting approach” to building redesign. I didn’t murder that guy. I “took an interesting approach” to interpersonal conflict resolution. I didn’t steal that loaf of bread. I “took an interesting approach” to capitalism.
You know. Just the same exact way Ryan M. Kincaid “took an interesting approach” to drawing the cover art by literally tracing another author’s work.
On creating a story centered around a female lead, Sarem notes, “That was always the idea. Even at a young age I noticed what was going on.”
According to the feature on her on Vulture, the thing she noticed that was going on was that she couldn’t get parts as an actress, so she wrote this one specifically for herself. This isn’t empowering to women. It’s empowering to one woman.
About the comic conventions where she allegedly sold one book every forty-six seconds, per the math done by commenter Maths GCSE Graduate on the last recap, Sarem says:
“It’s a great place to meet fans looking for the next source of entertainment,” Sarem explains. “They’re excited to find something new and there’s nothing like watching them walk away clutching the book like it’s the most valuable thing they own.”
Nobody has ever felt that way about this book. And most people don’t go to conventions looking for “the next source of entertainment.” They go to see the people who are already making the entertainment they like. They want to meet the artists and illustrators and celebrities they already know.
You might be thinking to yourself, “How did Lani Sarem get this far into the press release without namedropping?” Well, don’t worry. Thomas Ian Nicholas is there to do it for her:
Nicholas also says, “It’s fun getting this project off the ground by connecting directly with people in the right environment. Plus, spending the weekend with other guests like Gregg Sulkin, Jason Momoa, Holly Marie Combs, Bonnie Wright, Sebastian Stan, Ian Somerhalder– it’s starting to feel like one big supportive family.”
Okay, but they’re no Carrot Tops, are they?
The press release goes on in an attempt to tie Sarem and Handbook to Disney via Thomas Ian Nicholas and John Heder’s Disney trivia panel that Sarem moderates and that a Disney artist showed up to hand out prizes for. One thing you can say for Lani (who absolutely wrote this press release herself, as no one who does this as their job would write a press release that included so much information completely unrelated to the main point), she sure knows how to starfuck in public.
Lest you think the entire thing is about the famous people Sarem and Nicholas sometimes stand next to, oh no, dear reader. We haven’t forgotten that this is a work of fearful and staggering feminism:
For several years, she was one of the youngest female band managers with two platinum selling, Grammy award-winning acts nestled in her roster of bands. Music is another area of the entertainment business that is typically a boys club. Sarem is no stranger to breaking down those walls and says, “It’s always an interesting challenge to find your place as a woman in a male-centric business. I hope I’m one of the many people that bring about positive change to the film industry. I want to inspire young girls to know they can dream big and achieve whatever their heart desires.”
Yes, young girls, you can dream big and achieve…wait, what the fuck has Lani Sarem ever achieved, aside from being fired from the bands she managed because they apparently grew tired of her schemes and going on to expose herself as a clumsy fraud in the literary world? Watch out, film industry. Lani is on her way to fix you the way she fixed publishing. Sit down, women in Holywood who have been fighting for equality! Lani Sarem has it handled.
Obviously, now that Handbook For Mortals is burning its bra, everyone is going to stop mocking it, right?
Nope! Sorry, Lani Sarem, but your scam has never been about “empowering women.” It’s been 100% about you getting famous by any means necessary. It’s been about empowering you. Now you’ve been slightly sort-of kind of notable in a fully non-important way for almost a year. That’s all people are willing to give you in all of this, which is honestly more than you deserve.
Anyway onto the blistering female empowerment of Handbook For Mortals
When last we saw Lani, she was dying on stage. So the rest of the chapter is obviously going to be in someone else’s POV, right? The italics with the little triple goddess picture, right?
That’s the last thing I personally remembered from that day. Later, after I’d had some time to rest, I pulled out the memories of waht everyone else saw and what happened.
In one sentence, any sense of suspense over Zip’s fate is obliterated. She’s just collapsed backstage doing this chaos majik thing that’s so super dangerous, but don’t worry, reader! Everything suspenseful that happened from that point on turned out totally okay and the book will be narrated by the heroine after everything inevitably works out.
But what does she mean by “pulling out” memories?
When you “pull out” memories using magick, they pretty much feel like they are your memories––but you’re also seeing yourself from that other point of view. This means that you’re only seeing what the other person saw, though––so you might not get a full picture of the information you’re looking for.
Yes, but where are you pulling these memories from? Just right out of the heads of people around you? Did you ask their permission? Is there a reason you needed to do this or were you just curious to see if everyone was appropriately devastated when you collapsed? Right now seems like the point in the author’s rewrite of her screenplay where she got bored turning it into an actual novel and now she’s just setting up camera angles. It’s okay that this entire sequence makes absolutely no sense, that we’ve been given no indication previously that this is a kind of maghikk that Zart can do, and that the POV shift is inconsistent with the third person omniscient we’ve seen POV changes handled with so far. I’m perfectly fine with being trapped in a first-person omniscient hellscape.
Now that Labia has done her illusion and it’s all gone terribly, Mac returns.
After completely leaving the theater during the show, he had finally come back into the venue just as the commotion was at its peak, and heard that someone had gotten hurt. His own intuition must have kicked in, because he instantly knew it was me. Hoping he was wrong, he pushed his way through the crowd, panicking.
Imagine if this scene were written not in first-person omniscient past-perfect tense. Also, imagine it was in a better book. What if we’d seen this as it was happening? What if the author had trusted readers enough to let them into a deep-POV third person when they were with other characters? The only reason we haven’t had any deep third-person POV and always stay in omniscient third and now first person is because Lani Sarem can’t stand that her reader, who should be paying attention to her, is sparing even a single brain cell on someone who isn’t her. I mean, who isn’t her direct avatar.
Mac pushes everyone aside and finds Tad and Zeb holding onto Zuckerberg, who is throwing up her own blood.
Mac instantly grabbed me and pulled me towards himself. Zeb let Mac take over holding me, but stayed in the same spot, protective and close.
Hey, remember when that evil bitch Sofia fell sixty feet into water and her heart stopped and none of these people treated that with any urgency?
Tad tells Mac what happened to Zazu:
“I don’t know. I looked over. She just collapsed and started bleeding,” Tad said, at a complete loss. He was distraught, shattered.
Distraught and shattered. This same character consoled Riley after Sofia’s fall by saying basically, hey, it wasn’t your fault, she should have known better, while Sofia was still not breathing.
Zeb weighs in, too:
“I turned around, and she…she…uh…she just collapsed in my ams,” Zeb offered, still stunned, with glazed eyes.
How many times are we going to have to hear about her collapsing? What new information is this imparting? The reader knows she’s collapsed. Let’s move on.
Poor Riley couldn’t talk as tears began to well in his eyes and he began to hyperventilate. He didn’t have anything to add as far as information went. Zeb grabbed him and let him lean on him as he started to collapse on the floor.
Now Riley is collapsing, too? None of these people are up to code.
The paramedics arrive and start working on her:
Little did they know that what was happening to me wasn’t anything they had ever seen before.
They’re paramedics in Las Vegas. I guarantee that they’ve seen someone spontaneously collapse and vomit blood before.
“No signs of external trauma. Must be something internal,” […]
Mac asks what hospital they’ll take her to, and Charles says––hey, that’s right, Charles has been in this scene the whole time, standing by without being mentioned! Anyway, he says he’s going to the hospital, too, and of course, it leads to a steely moment of eye contact between the two men, one of whom believes the other is a romantic rival when in reality the other is really her father and possibly, okay, also a romantic rival.
Before they leave, Tad tells Mac that the last thing Lint said was to call her mother, and Mac, who has been dating Zwieback for like, what, half a year now? Has no idea how to contact her. Now, I’m not suggesting that Mac should have met Dela or Delilah or whatever the fuck she’s called, but I am suggesting that in the amount of time we can estimate that he’s known her, wouldn’t he at least know if she had a cellphone he could find the number in?
Zeb and Tad both had blood all over their clothes and there was even blood pooled on the floor. Riley stood there just staring at the floor, pretty shaken and distraught. As everyone started to disperse, Riley couldn’t take his eyes away from the red pool of blood.
Thanks for clearing up that blood is red and that it’s not a red pool of some other liquid. At this point, I’m going to just imagine Lugnut’s dramatic collapse as a Capri Sun being squeezed too hard. My favorite part of this is that we started out in Mac’s memory, but now Mac is gone. So, Zam Chowder has taken over someone else’s memory not to advance the story at all, but to show us how affected her coworkers are by her incident.
Zeb finally looked down, noticing he was covered in blood, and in an almost daze, followed after the others.
And then she does it again! It’s not enough that everyone immediately worried about her and screamed for 911 while they were previously content to just see how Sofia’s whole falling-sixty-feet-and-not-breathing thing played out. We have to see everyone’s PTSD developing in real time. No forgetting how beloved Lilly Zane is in this story, no sir!
There’s a paragraph break and Zunder Lunt explains that it’s hard to sift through everyone’s memories because of how sad they were about her:
Feeling the pain they felt as I combed through their deepest thoughts was incredibly hard for me, but I needed to know what happened during the time I was “gone.” So I kept sifting.
Does anyone have some god damn wood so we can fashion a cross for this true martyr? I mean ’tis the season, right?
I want to know how this memory sifting thing works. There’s no indication anywhere that she’s been given consent by any of these people to look into their minds. She’s never been able to read people’s thoughts before. If she could do this all along and had no qualms about doing it to people without their knowledge in order to gain information for herself, why didn’t she do it to clear up her dating conflicts? I’m not saying she should have, but the reader needs to know why she hasn’t been using this power if she had it all along? At the very least, it would have explained the hideous POV skews.
Because no one close to her was in the ambulance, she can’t get memories from that time.
I had to assume that not much happened that was important (to me, at least), so I skipped trying to pull those moments, which seemed to be more work than they were worth.
The thing that would have been happening in the ambulance would have been like, people saving her life, but that isn’t important to her. I wish the paramedics would have decided that saving her was more work than they were worth. I’m not saying I want to know every tiny detail from the ambulance ride and that no author should ever skip shit like that, but all this does is open up more questions about the “pulling memories” ability that we’ve never heard of until this chapter. Where is Zoloft while she’s “pulling memories”? Is she in a coma doing this? Is she at home? Does she have to be near the person physically when she does this? Can she grab anybody’s memories, even if she’s not involved? It’s “more work” to try to get a total stranger’s memories, but she doesn’t say it’s impossible. Is this heroine walking around just reading other people’s minds? Are there majhikal controls in place to stop her from doing so? Does she have ethical standards that prevent her from doing it? Are we going to get any sort of explanation for these powers, or what?
Anyway, she focuses on Charles and Mac driving the hospital not talking, then going to the ICU waiting room.
As I compared their memories, two things were consistent: you could cut the tension with a knife; and the pain they both felt for me was so strong it was pretty unbearable.
Two things were consistent: the author’s total lack of understanding regarding simple punctuation and the reassurance that her avatar is still the center of the universe.
A doctor comes in to talk to Mac and Charles:
By his white coat you could tell he was a doctor and obviously well experienced––most likely the head doctor of the hospital.
The head doctor…of the hospital. This is the way a child would write a story. THE VERY MOST SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT DOCTOR WHO WAS THE BOSS OF THE WHOLE HOSPITAL.
“Are either of you family?” Dr. Schmidt asked, cutting into Mac’s panic.
“I’m her friend…um…I’m her boy. I’m her…boy…friend,” Mac stammered.
Are you, though?
The doctor informs him that he has to talk to someone in her family because she can’t consent to the release of her medical information. Charles is standing right there, of course, but he can’t say anything because it’s not time for The Big Reveal™.
“Her mother lives in Tennessee,” Mac answered realizing he wasn’t even sure exactly where in Tennessee; the best he knew it was near Nashville, but he knew Nashville wasn’t it. Acutally he vaguely remembered Zade saying something about the fact that Nashville was at least an hour away from her mom.
Since we’re in Zumple Liltskin’s brain, wouldn’t it be “at least an hour away from my mom,” and “he vaguely remembered me saying?” And does the internet not exist in this world? Couldn’t he just search for her mom’s phone number online? Or even try to look up Zully’s name, since she used to live with her mom? Is anyone making an attempt to find her next of kin at all?
Charles asks if he can speak with the doctor privately but Mac makes it some big deal about “whatever you can say, you can say in front of me” kind of male posturing. So you know what it’s time for.
“I’m also her…” he paused, glancing at Mac. “I’m her father.”
And I’m fucking her.
He does not say, because it’s not that kind of book. Or so we’re supposed to believe.
Mac is like, what? So Charles has to break it down Barney-style:
Charles looked directly into Mac’s eyes while spoke slowly and purposely: “Zade is my daughter.”
First of all, he did it purposefully, not purposely. And yet again, we’ve got someone looking “directly into” another character’s eyes. This gets used more than I use “look to” in my books and that is really saying something considering how much I use “look to”.
Wherein Mac becomes all of us:
“I saw you kiss her!” Mac protested.
“What are you trying to imply?” Charles said, flabbergasted.
Mac began to breathe heavily […]
Again, no one is this chapter “did” anything. They all “began” or “started to”.
He pressed his lips together and looked directly at the floor. Mac pulled his gaze off of Charles and turned to the doctor, who seemed to be more confused than ever.
As am I, considering Charles is apparently on the floor or has become a part of the floor himself, as per the order in which Mac’s eyes do their thing.
I’m sorry, “began” to do their thing.
Mac asks the doctor to give them a moment, because Zunk bleeding out isn’t nearly as important as clearing up this conflict with his boss. The doctor goes away, and Mac asks if Charles just said he was her father so the doctor would talk to them.
“It’s 100% completely true.”
“Does she know?” Mac queried
“Yes,” Charles said, nodding slowly and in a flat tone.
A note on queried (and yes, the period is actually missing, it’s not my clumsy fingers doing that): people, especially first-time authors, get hung up on word repetition, but over the wrong words. “Asked” would have been an invisible word here, but chances are that Sarem thought she was doing the right thing by avoiding it. Those lists that make their way around the internet with all those alternatives for “ask” and “said” usually don’t point out that some of their substitutes are used less often than others and as a result might stick out as stiff and archaic, interrupting the flow of dialogue. “Avoid ‘said’ and ‘asked’!” is such bad advice because it makes new writers feel like they have to consult a thesaurus. Here’s a writing tip: If you’re writing a fast-paced conversation like this, don’t be afraid of ‘asked’ and ‘said.’ This one isn’t Sarem’s fault. She just fell victim to some bad writing advice.
What is her fault is not realizing that nods don’t have tones.
“I am not aware of anyone else knowing. Besides her mother, of course.”
“Why?” Mac asked, still very confused, his stomach in knots.
Because she gave birth to her, Mac.
“I cannot explain most of it to you, but I can say that…well, it was her mother’s wish, and I had no choice but to respect it. ‘Wish’ is a polite way of putting it, honestly. It was only recently that Zade found out that I was her father; and that’s when she came to work with us,” Charles responded in a very matter-of-fact tone.
In other words, the motivation we were given for why Lazi went to Vegas is missing a big chunk out of it. We were told that she was going to Las Vegas to try to become a magician because her mother had trapped her in their small town, possibly with a spell of some kind, and now she was going off to live her dream. In reality, she was “trapped” with her mother because she didn’t know there was a better option. Was it ever really Zandy’s dream to be an illusionist? Or was this just a way to get out of her small town? We’d speculated that Hey There Delilah had put her daughter under a spell, but in reality it was just that she never told her daughter that she had a father?
None of these questions are answered right now, of course.
Mac tells Charles that it’s funny that Zalaska Lunderfuck grew up to become a magician, too, and Charles makes a comment about how her mother does “something similar.” Then Mac explains that he thought she and Charles were having an affair, based on the amount of time they spent together.
He was thinking over all the things that in the past few days hadn’t sat well with him but now made total sense.
Does it? Because that’s not the experience the reader is having. This entire story would have made a lot more sense if we had known Charles was her father from the very beginning. It still wouldn’t have been a good story, but it would have at least made more sense than a story where the main character decides she’s going to be a big Vegas star and then it just happens without any conflict.
Ways this story would have been improved if we’d known Charles was her father all along:
- There would have been clear motivation (“call to adventure”) for her to leave her hometown at the point in time when the story begins.
- Her ability to easily get an audition with a top Vegas act would have been more believable.
- Wanting to impress her father and not disappoint him would have given her motivation, which has been wholly missing from her characterization.
- If it remained a secret to the rest of the cast and crew, the conflict could have arisen from trying to keep the secret safe.
- If it hadn’t been kept a secret from the rest of the cast and crew, the conflict could have arisen from trying to prove her worth.
- Wanting to walk in her father’s footsteps or make him proud or take her place in some magical dynasty would have given her a goal, which she lacks.
You read that right. Zade lacks a goal. And motivation. And conflict. Those are three crucial intersections between characterization and plot. Without those three, neither the character nor the plot can be sustained. Letting the reader in on the secret of Zade’s parentage wouldn’t have just saved the plot. It would have created one in the first place.
Mac tells Charles that he saw them kissing and Charles is like, are you sure?
“Well…” Mac thought through what he had actually seen, sort of thinking out loud. “Well, no. I saw you lean in to…what I thought was to make-out with her, then I couldn’t bear to watch, so I turned away. It was when you were in the office earlier, and you both were saying how you loved each other.”
Charles nodded and smiled; he knew exactly the time frame Mac was speaking about.
“If you would have spied on us just a moment longer you would have seen her kiss me on the cheek. I am sorry you misunderstood, and that it caused you pain.”
These characters talk about “making out” so much that this might as well be a high school AU of itself written by a thirteen-year-old who can’t go spicier because her mom might read her notebooks. On top of that…is Charles suggesting that his employees should spy on him more thoroughly?
“That conversation you had with me that one day makes much more sense now, too,” Mac said thoughtfully, then his whole attitude sank. “I yelled at her tonight. We got into a big fight right before the illusion. Now everything she said makes sense.
Whoa, slow down. Let’s not make wild claims here.
She wasn’t lying and I wouldn’t listen. I just walked away. I was so upset, I couldn’t even run main during the show––I had Cam do it.”
“You weren’t on the board when we did the creation illusion?” A panicked look crept across Charles’s face when he echoed what Mac had said.
“But you were supposed to capture the homunculus! Where is it now? Did it escape?!”
“No. Why?” Mac asked, wondering what not being on the board had to do with anything.
True love. I’m making my bet right now. True love grounds her or some shit.
Charles swallowed and paused for a moment before responding, “I think I may have had an idea of what’s causing Zade’s health issues.”
Oh my god, it’s really going to be true love, isn’t it?
So, keep at mind that at this point, neither Mac nor Charles actually know what Lumbar’s health issue is, because rather than find out whether or not she’s alive or dead or dying or doomed or just fine, they have to hash out the romantic drama and the Big Reveal™. And they don’t get to find out if she’s okay just yet, because something else really important is happening:
Something else really important and alarming happened at that exact moment.
Sorry, really important and alarming.
The girl who had stopped me that day in the parking garage of the mall, the one who pinned me to the wall using magick, arrived at the hospital. Not only did I find out that she was there but she seemed to make a point of being seen when she didn’t have to––which led me to believe she knew I would look later (or at least someone would) and would see her. I still have no idea why she was there––or why she purposely wanted to be seen.
Okay, so the Lambo girl did show up again in the story. I mean, she just shows up in a random memory and the main character is like, shrug emoji, IDK, but she does show up again. Load sees that in the moment that Dr. Schmidt returns, the girl pushes between Mac and Charles, who’ve previously been described as standing very close and having this super intense conversation. So, there’s no way they couldn’t have noticed her there.
She had made sure to burn a spot in Mac’s memories, and that was only because she actually pushed him out of her way. As I looked through Mac’s thoughts and tried to process them, her presence sent a shiver down my back. It was really bizarre and had me very worried but there obviously wasn’t anything I could do after the fact.
But…Charles was there. And he knows about majihck. Was there a hole burned into his brain, too? Why isn’t he suspicious about the girl?
Oh, right, because he desperately wants to find out how Laura is doing. I mean, he and Mac sent the doctor away so they could have a long conversation about their feelings, but now they’re finally getting around to wanting to know what’s happened to Zint. Like, is she alive, or…
“She’s stable for the moment, but I can’t guarantee that to be a permanent situation unless I can figure out what’s causing this––and right now I really haven’t a clue. There is internal trauma and bleeding that I can’t even figure out––we can’t seem to place where it’s coming from, or why. I just have no idea. There is nothing broken and––frankly––it doesn’t look like she even bumped into anything hard. It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen.”
I’m not a doctor, but I feel like a patient isn’t stable if they’re still bleeding uncontrollably and seemingly without any reason. I’m also really skeptical of any doctor wandering into a waiting room and saying, basically, “I have no idea what’s going on.” Are malpractice suits not a thing in this universe? Because I feel like, “He admitted he couldn’t figure it out had no idea what was going on,” is probably not a sentence the hospital’s legal team is going to want to hear in court, especially coming from the doctor who is the boss of the whole hospital. That’s why they keep shit vague and say stuff like, “we’re still waiting on a few tests,” and “we’re doing what we can to get her stabilized.”
Mac asks what their options are.
Dr. Schmidt swallowed hard and flattened his lips in frustration “I never thought I would say this, but I am currently wishing Dr. House was a real person. It’s definitely the kind of case he would solve.”
“The defendant made irreverent remarks to the distressed family, indicating that only a fictional doctor would be able to cure the patient.”
Daviles Copperman doesn’t know about House, M.D., and it’s somehow important to note that in this scene.
Charles never watches TV and lives in in his own world to a certain extent in that regard.
“He’s a fictional doctor on a TV show,” Mac explained. He knew that Charles was pretty out of the loop on subjects of htis nature no matter how popular or well know they were to most people. When Charles goes to big events with famous people he frequently must be told by his assistant who someone is––and why they are considered famous. He’s good at pretending he knows in those cases.
THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THIS BOOK IS DYING RIGHT NOW. IS THIS INFORMATION NECESSARY IN LIGHT OF WHAT IS GOING ON?
The doctor reiterates once again that he has no clue what he’s doing, and they ask if they can see Zort. Which means, of course, it’s time for another self-indulgent look at how emotional and sad everyone important would be if the author was tragically ill.
Oh please, you know that’s exactly what this is.
The image of me lying on the bed unconcious, with IV lines and tubes sticking out of me was hard enough for me to bear, but the scene was far worse for Mac and Charles. Mac stopped in the middle of the room and for a few moments couldn’t move; he had never seen anyone he cared about like that––and it was pretty shocking for him.
What about all the blood that’s going to be everywhere because she’s still hemorrhaging all over the place because they can’t find the cause for it?
While they’re in the room, Charles gets a phone call from Dela, which causes him to look “directly at Mac.” I didn’t feel like I needed to include the entire excerpt, but it’s important to me to point out how often someone looks directly at someone else. It happens thirty-four times in the book overall, and that’s excluding the times when people get “directly” in someone’s face or point “directly” at someone or direct their attention directly in the direction of someone else. It may not seem like a lot, but this isn’t a very long book and when coupled with all the times those same actions are repeated with “right at” subbing in for “directly,” it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Dela and Charles have a tense conversation about how the doctors aren’t going to know how to cure Zingardium Leviosa, and Charles suggests that Dela come to them in Las Vegas.
“No. You need to bring her here as fast as you can. Tell them whatever you want. Just get her down here, and bring that boy, Mac, with you. I may need him, too.” Dela’s voice had shifted to sounding sure and strong, drawing on a talent she had to always sound confident, no matter the situation.
“Why can’t you come to us? That would be safer for her,” Charles pleaded.
“Charlie, I need my tools and my altar––all that is here. Do you understand? I can’t do what I need to in a hospital room with people everywhere. The best thing for her––and her best chance––is for you to bring her to me as soon as possible.”
There’s a lot going on here. Right off the bat, I’m wondering why all of Dela’s dialogue is written in italics just because she’s on the phone. This isn’t a screenplay convention, as far as I’ve ever heard. But let’s talk about “I need you to move my critically ill, still-bleeding daughter out of the hospital and bring her to my house across the country because that’s where my altar and tools are. Let me put on my witchy pants and explain some shit:
- Tools are helpful, but not critical
- Tools travel
- Hospitals tend to be accommodating (within reason) of patients’ and their families’ spiritual practices
- Many witches have travel altars, like this:
In fact, if you go on YouTube, you’ll see lots of videos where witches discuss their travel altars. Mine is made out of a Sucrets tin (and yes, those are incredibly small tarot cards) and includes only the stuff I think I would need out of my purse in a pinch to do like, a reading or some scrying or a very limited ritual, but there are so many people making bigger, suitcase-sized ones that are far more complicated. Traveling altars are 100% a common thing, and even if they weren’t, it’s still easier to transport magical tools and herbs and shit across the country than it is to transport a person who’s bleeding all over the place.
But whatever. I didn’t write this book. Thank god.
It’s okay, though, because Dela has had a vision or some shit and she knows exactly how this is all supposed to shake out.
What Charles couldn’t see was that Dela was sitting at a table with her cards out. I had to assume that she had a lit candle on the tabel as well, and some cards already laid out.
Screeching brakes. Why does Zug keep referring to her mother by her first name, when in the past she’s called her mom? Pulled memories or not, we’re still in Laparoscopy’s POV. Second, if she’s pulling memories and she can see that her mother is sitting at a table with her cards out, why can’t she see the candle or if her mother has laid out cards?
Dela closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, shuffling the remainder of the cards in her hands. She aid out three cards and placed them on top of another card that’s already lying on the table. She examined the cards carefully as if she were deciphering a code. That’s kind of how reading cards goes.
I’m sorry, I’m really confused as to what object, exactly, Dela is dealing with at the moment. Is she reading runes? Tea leaves? I feel like it could be cards, but I’m not sure because it hasn’t been mentioned enough.
You know what hasn’t been mentioned often enough in this book, either? Exactly what reading cards is like. I’m glad we have a page-long block paragraph to guide us:
For everyone it’s different, but there is a mixture of reading the cards and what they mean indiviudally––but also how they relate to each other. How they come up and in what order and what situation––and even how the question was asked––all make a difference in what they mean and say. Your guides are sending messages and it even depends on what all they want to tell you versus the lessons you may need to learn on your own. Beyond that when you are someone like my mom, and to a lesser extend me, who can actually see the future––or at least what is mixed in with what you can see and hear. Sometimes you can get very clear and direct answers and other times they can be much more vague. We all have Destiny to deal with. We all have some of that, some things we are just born to do. It’s not all Destiny, though––some things are open and subject to freewill. Only sometimes can you change your destiny but that is hard and is a subject for another time and a later book.
So, wait, is Lumbar Zuncture actually aware that she’s a character in a novel? I mean, I guess I can see that, but I don’t feel like it’s been consistently written that way. There I go again. Expecting consistency.
It is possible to change it for the better or mess it up. When you learn your lessons you move to new ones, kind of like levels in a video game. There are simply so many variables, which is why sometimes readings are crystal clear, and others are almost like educated guesses.
This is all information that a) has been repeated at least twice before in this book and b) is being inserted into what should be a tense and suspenseful scene as our HEROINE IS LITERALLY DYING.
Dela tells Charles that the cards won’t give her a clear answer and that Charles has to get Larvae to her as soon as possible, because of the moon phase:
With some kinds of spells and the whatnot, if the moon is waing then it will affect what you are doing in certain ways and when it is waning things will be effected in the opposite way. Waxing means it’s “getting bigger” on its way to becoming a full moon, and waning means it was already a full moon and it’s “going away.” If you are trying to start something with a love interest for instance, waxing moons are best. Though, for getting rid of, say, a broken heart that’s “taking away,” a waning moon is good.
Okay, but how about like, healing? Since that’s what the spell is going to be for? Or…wait. Dela said Mac should come, too, because she might need him. Please, please tell me that Zagat’s internal bleeding isn’t from a literal broken heart. I don’t have a hardcover copy of the book to throw in frustration.
Also, thanks, Lani, for explaining to your readers what “waxing” and “waning” mean because they couldn’t have figured it out on their own. Those are super mystical terms only really witchy people would understand and definitely not common terminology that’s been used to describe the moon for centuries, even in a non-magjikahl sense.
Also, side note, while the moon phases do have magical correspondences, if you need emergency healing magic, you can do that spell whenever. It helps if it lines up with the appropriate phase, but you don’t have to wait for weeks to try to help.
So, Charles tells Dela he’ll bring Zunk on his private jet, then tells the doctor that they’re going to take Lazi to a specialist in Tennessee.
“Your daughter is dying and you want me to discharge her so you can take her to a private practice in Tennessee?” Dr. Schmidt was obviously appalled that Charles was even suggesting such a thing.
Considering how Dr. Schmidt was just like, “I don’t know anything, gosh, I wish I was Hugh Laurie,” why would it surprise him that they want to take her to another hospital? Plus, why hasn’t he suggested a specialist in the first place if he doesn’t know what’s wrong with her? Charles even points that out during the argument.
[…] the words “Get her here as soon as you can or she can die” kept echoing in his head. Even though my mother never said those exact words Charles knew that was what she meant.
I guarantee this line sprung from an editorial note. “You have him thinking about Dela’s words here, but she didn’t say them.” Rather than scroll up a page and insert them, Sarem chose to just write that she never said them. It’s moments like these that I’m torn between not believing that there were any editors, let alone three, or if there were three different editors because the author didn’t like what they had to say and their changes were just too hard when writing the book was the smallest part of the overall scam she was planning.
We POV skew here:
He also thought about the idea of losing his daughter so soon after she had come back into his life and that thought crippled him.
No, he also thought about losing “me” so soon after “I” had come back into his life. Because you, Ziple Lutz, are the one narrating this part.
Dr. Schmidt looked at Charles dubiously. He didn’t think this was a smart idea in any regard. He stared directly at Charles and deeply into his eyes and, after a long, hard look, responded: “You have to sign a release that you understand this may very well kill your daughter.”
He looked at Charles, but then looked at him again, directly, and in an oddly romantic fashion.
He muttered something about how he didn’t need a lawsuit from the whole situation.
Which, as a doctor, he should know that signing the form declaring that you’re knowingly going against medical advice would remove pretty much any chance he’s going to get sued.
This whole thing, by the way, probably wouldn’t go down this fast. Despite the fact that Charles is Zani’s father, she’s an adult. The hospital is going to do whatever they can to dissuade Charles from making this decision, and they might even go so far as involving adult protective services. Getting all this done within a few hours is pretty unrealistic unless Zani was conscious and able to sign the papers herself.
Of course, maybe Nevada law is different. Maybe they let people just check their adult children with uncontrollable internal bleeding out of the hospital like it’s no big deal. There’s clearly a lot of painstaking research done in the rest of the book, so I’m sure that’s the case.
Mac argues with Charles about this, too.
“Zade’s mother can do quite a bit, son. Far beyond chicken soup. You have much to learn about this family. For starters, as you will soon see, I am actually the one with the least amount of ability.”
Alternately, Charles, you could just lie and stick with the specialist thing. But cryptic dialogue convinces Mac that Charles is right, and he says he’s going to go with them.
“Of course. You definitely should come. You’re needed, anyway.” Charles nodded and was thrilled that Mac had come to this conclusion on his own. Charles realized that convincing Mac to tag along was far easier than he thought it would be. Charles was about as pleased with himself as he could be considering the circumstances.
Then Sarem states again that Dela told Charles to bring Mac, because we forgot from a few pages ago.
“Needed?” Mac asked. He was beginning to feel like he had walked into something bigger than he expected.
Charles nodded confidently. “Needed.”
And that’s where the chapter ends. Join us next time for yet another chapter where the heroine is unconscious but somehow still narrating this boring as fuck story.