March went out like a failure:
Le Rêve is not a Cirque Du Soleil production. It’s a competing franchise bankrolled entirely by…the Wynn Hotel and Casino, where the magic show in Handbook is set.
You’d think that someone who researched the setting of their book and worked for Cirque would have known that.
We begin this chapter still in Lani’s omniscient 1/3 POV. That’s what I’m calling it. 1/3. Because it’s first and third but only makes 1/3 a cup of sense.
As does the realism of the medical nonsense:
After some paperwork and arranging for medical supplies, an ambulance from the hopsital to the airport, and then a ride on a private jet around dawn, the three of us (though I was still unconscious) arrived in Woodbury.
In the hours between the end of the show and dawn the next day, a man with no proof of paternity has been able to remove his still-hemorrhaging adult daughter from a hospital against medical advice, secure a transport willing to help him, and convert a private jet into an air ambulance.
My mom had brought her SUV to meet us at the airport, which is actually just one runway and a tiny office, She decided that the fewer people involved in getting me to her house, in the state I was in, the better.
Oh my god. They just propped her up in the SUV, bleeding. Imagine if they got pulled over and they had to Weekend At Bernie’s her with blood flying everywhere.
Zump describes her mom for us, stating that she’s not a soccer mom despite her SUV. Just in case previous descriptions of her mother, the weird-ass tarot reading, spell casting town outcast, conjured the perfect picture of suburbia. They get Lunk put safely away in her room, where she will be ignored for pretty much the entire chapter.
Mac looked around at the photos, which were mainly of my mom and me. She looked almost the same in every photo, she barely aged; it was how old I was in each framed picture that gave you any real insight as to how long ago the photo had been taken.
I can’t believe I’m sporking two books in a row where we don’t know if the main character is immortal or not. That should be an answered question in literally any book that refers to non-magical humans as “mortals.”
After Mom had taken as much care of me as possible, she returned to the guys and wasted no time getting to what she wanted to know. After all, there was no time really for preliminaries, anyway.
Please keep that passage in mind.
Dela asks if Mac “knows”:
“That I’m her father? He does.” Amid the memories I dug out, I got the feeling that Charles always had a knack for knowing what Dela meant, even though she was the one who could actually read minds. He was pretty sure he knew what she was referrring to when she asked that “he knows?” question, even though there were several other things she could have been talking about.
“Editors Note: How does Charles know what she means? She could be asking if Mac knew about magic. Can Charles read minds like Dela can? Need specifics here.” I 100% guarantee that is how we got that paragraph.
Charles is apparently only ever nervous around Dela:
The thoughts I found in his memories were jumbled, but that anxiety seemed to stem from everything: from how magical and powerful she was, to how madly in love with her he still was, to my condition, and even to just the bold presence my mother possesses.
So, Charles is still in love with Dela. So you can be sure that this will be slowly teased out over several chapters with meaningful romantic tension and a satisfying conclusion.
Dela says something about Charles finally admitting that Lint is his daughter, and he’s like, well, that’s your fault. This is something Dela would have normally gotten angry about, but she doesn’t.
Maybe she realized, as he was standing there––and just seeing how upset he was and how much he cared about me––all the things she robbed us both of by not letting us spend time together. She was aware how hard it was for me to go through childhood without a father and now maybe she was finally seeing that it hadn’t been easy on him, either.
As the child of a single mother who blamed her mom for that every day, I recognize how this got in here. I’m sure it was even cathartic to write, in a wish-fulfillment sense. But it’s bullshit. Dela is majihk, sure, but she’s still just a small town psychic. She doesn’t have the money to fight a famous millionaire’s neverending supply of legal representation in a custody battle that could eke out over eighteen years. Charles is a fucking deadbeat. If he wanted to see his daughter, he could have lawyered up and he didn’t.
For one small moment, they gazed into each other’s eyes before quickly turning away.
Oh, look! There’s that romantic tension I told you about. Get ready for the slow burn!
Mac goes in to sit with Zart. So, you’d think this would be the scene where we see Mac come to terms with his feelings for her, and maybe she’ll see all the love he feels for her when she pulls those memories. There you go with your expectations again. Of course, there’s no developing of the romance between Largo and her love interest. Oh no. No, no. She’s far more interested in the scorching erotic heat between her…parents.
As she gazed at him, she coudln’t help but notice how handsome he still was regardless of the fact that he was almost twenty years older than he had been the last time she had seen him in person. He had some gray hairs now and a few wrinkles on his face but underneath that was the handsome boy she had met so long ago. His eyes still twinkled despite his current pain and sadness.
Is it just me, or is it weird that Linda has mentioned Charles’s twinkling eyes in every scene he’s in and now it’s one of the things her mom finds attractive about him?
I’m starting to think this book is all about how Lugnut wants to fuck her dad.
Charles tells Dela that basically, she’s the only person who could possibly save Zink:
“Hopefully I can. She’s pretty far gone right now, but she seems to be hanging on. That’s a good sign.” My mother tried to sound as hopeful as she possible. It had been a long almost-twenty-four hours for everyone.
First of all, Dela, if your daughter is “pretty far gone” and there isn’t “any time for preliminaries,” what is happening with you standing there making conversation with your ex? This is not how you build a sense of urgency. A sense of urgency would have had Dela’s SUV screeching onto the tarmac, her jumping out and throwing the keys at someone, hopping in back with her daughter and starting her magic work right god damn now. At the very least, they should have rushed her into the house and started the ritual immediately. We would have understood that this is serious and Zib’s life is in danger. What the author has forgotten here is that just because the character survives to narrate the story to us, that doesn’t mean the characters within the story know that’s what’s going to happen. Their disregard for any sense of urgency while continually describing the urgency of the situation is classic tell vs. show, and makes it seem like they really don’t care if the main character lives or dies.
Like the rest of us.
It’s nice to have a time stamp, too. It’s been “almost” twenty-four hours. How long did it take the jet to fly to Tennessee? I’m going to guesstimate this one. To give them the maximum time I can possibly allow for their air ambulance shenanigans, I generously put her accident at 9:00 PM, despite the fact that the show would have really gotten out much later. Then they flew out at dawn. Again, for maximum generosity for the paperwork and ambulance and outfitting the plane, let’s say sunrise was at 8:00 AM. Commercial flights from Las Vegas to Nashville (the closest actual existing airport to Woodbury, where the fictional airport is) seem to be about three hours total time in the air, but a private jet is going to be faster because, well, jets just are faster. Now it’s been almost twenty-four hours. We can only account for about nine hours, total, less than that if we use more realistic estimates for sunrise and show times (and that nine hours had to include imaging, treatment, and probably exploratory surgery to look for the bleed, also incredibly unrealistic). If everything is so urgent…what happened during the other twelve or thirteen hours?
But that’s not important. What’s important is that Charles called Dela “Dely,” a nickname he gave her because apparently “Dela” isn’t short enough. And when a new name is introduced, you know what happens:
It sounds like “Deli,” as in sandwiches, which I guess Charles would claim was a joke about his two favorite things: my mother and submarine sandwiches.
Not Sofia? His long-time, live-in girlfriend and former star of his show? She doesn’t rate above sandwiches? Also, thanks, Lani Sarem, for assuming that your readers are so intellectually beneath you that you need to explain what a fucking deli is. At least I know it’s not a proper noun.
Charles and Sandwich have a conversation about how fantastic Lani––sorry, Zade––is, with her fiery, headstrong temper and traffic-stopping beauty, and the conversation is…creepy.
“She’s as beautiful as her mother, as well.” Charles couldn’t help but say things like that to my mother.
“No, Charlie.” It was a soft no, cushioned by a past filled with affection.
GASP! She called him Charlie! Sofia the evil skank isn’t allowed to do that even during intercourse! THIS IS TRUE LOVE.
Charles responded quickly. “But, Dely, our daughter has become a beautiful young woman.”
But that isn’t what Sandwich is talking about. She tells Charles to stop trying to charm her:
“[…] It’s not going to work this time, Charlie.”
This scene has John and Marcia Syndrome. The characters constantly say each other’s names, a la the credits sequence from The Parent Trap. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a link to when “John…Marcia” starts. Please also take a moment to appreciate that this is kind of a racy movie for its time. A kid’s movie about divorce in 1961? The implication that the dad is boning a lady on weekend camping trips? But at least the kids in that movie didn’t spontaneously hemorrhage to get their parents back together.
Anyway, back to the John and Marcia Syndrome. Writing Tip: The next time you have a conversation with someone, keep track of how often you say each others’ names. Does it sound like this:
John: “Hey, Marcia, did you pick up the dry cleaning?”
Marcia: “No, I didn’t. They were closed.”
John: “Crap. I needed my shirt for Friday. Do you think you can swing by when you get off work?”
Marcia: “Yeah, just text me so I remember.”
Or does it sound like this:
John: “Hey, Marcia, did you pick up the dry cleaning?”
Marcia: “No, John, I didn’t. They were closed.”
John: “Crap. I needed my shirt for Friday, Marcia. Do you think you can swing by when you get off work?”
Marcia: “Yeah, John, just text me so I remember.”
There are two people in this conversation. There’s no reason for them to repeatedly establish who is being addressed.
My mother is very strong willed and when she says no to something it takes quite a lot to get her to change her mind, if she will change her mind at all.
So, Sandwich is not going to get back together with Spavid Chopperfield and that is settled. Settled.
“I still love you, Dela.” He had been in the same room with my mom for no more than an hour and Charles was already confessing that he was still in love with her.
Uh, yeah. We know. We can read it right there. But again, thanks for assuming we’re all so much dumber than you, Lani. Also, he’s been there for less than an hour? So…twenty-four hours? Are we sticking to that? Because it doesn’t even sound like twelve.
So, there’s this other weird thing that happens throughout this section that is, shocker, completely inconsistent with the formatting in the rest of the book. For some reason, even though this is being told from Lancet’s POV, random chunks are italicized:
I had seen it when I was growing up, too. She had always been a head turner for sure and beyond that you couldn’t deny she was just one of those woman that men just can’t can’t resist falling for. Beyond the physical she turns their souls, too, I guess.
This passage isn’t any different from the bit about her mother being very strong-willed above. It’s not a thought, it’s a part of the narrative. There’s no reason at all for this to be italicized. It happens a few times in the chapter.
So, anyway, Sandwich gets upset and goes into the kitchen to cry on the floor, and we get more of Sarem thinking we’re a hundred I.Q. points below her:
The moment the swinging door had completely stopped swishing back and forth, my mom became completely overwhelmed and melted into the floor. She stood leaning against the wall for a moment before sliding down to the floor and beginning to cry.
“See, when I say melting into the floor, I don’t mean literally. What I’m saying is that she slid down the wall to sit on the floor. I know you wouldn’t get that, so I explained it to you because I think you have the intelligence of a bucket of nails.”
The wave of feelings rushed over her like the wave of an ocean would: strong, fierce, and completely engulfing.
“I know that you’ve probably never heard of waves before. It’s a thing water does, especially if you’re doing chaos majjjjjik in a Vegas show, which I know all about because I’m an Actual Vegas Performer. Waves happen in the ocean a lot. The ocean is a very large body of water. You know what water is, right?”
Charles comes in and sees Sandwich on the floor and comforts her with an embrace:
Time means nothing to those who share such a strong bond, it was remarkable to me to see––even through the window of memories––how they actually were in person, and the love that instantly flowed between the two of them despite how long they had been apart.
The strong bond that made him abandon his child without a fight and made her forbid that child from ever seeing him, anyway? There better be a real good god damn explanation about why that was necessary.
Amongst the tears, in almost a whisper, she returned his hug and softly stated, “I love you, too.”
When I was very small, one of my favorite things to do was take my Strawberry Shortcake figures and line them up in rows on the desk in my bedroom. I could do it for hours. But the desk was a little wobbly and positioned right in front of the window, and we had a big dog that liked to jump up and peek in. So, I would have just gotten all of the figures set up in their rows and invariably the dog would pick that moment to jump up and startle me. My knees would hit the underside of the wobbly desk and all the little figures would fall down.
Charles and Dela’s entire romantic conflict being resolved a couple pages after it was first introduced is the literary equivalent of lining up your Strawberry Shortcakes and immediately knocking them over by accident.
Charles had his own irresistible charm and they both had an undeniable draw to each other.
These are your parents.
Mac returns and asks them to explain what’s going on with Zark. He asks Dela what she can do that a doctor can’t.
“More than you’re capable of imagining, young man.” Her eyes glimmered and a small smile crept out upon her lips.
Your daughter is dying, but sure. Draw out the suspense with your cryptic nonsense.
So, as Sandwich has insisted over and over, time is of the essence if they’re going to save Leda’s life.
“Perhaps I should start by explaining to you exactly how Charles and I met. It will have to be the quick version for now as we have a lot to do here.”
Alternately, you could just say, “I know how to do majgikh,” and then, you know. Save your daughter’s life.
If you must.
I guess I’m cool either way.
Now, let’s get ready for INSTANT REPLAY, the game where nobody noticed that characters repeat their actions!
Dela smiled and offered Mac one of the chairs at the dining set in the kitchen.
Mac looked around for a second and then cautiously sat down, […]
And then, in the very next paragraph:
He pulled out a chair from the table in the kitchen and slid slowly into the seat before scoothing the chair really close to the table, his eyes focused on Dela.
And I’m not entirely sure why she thought she had to specify that Mac is sitting in a chair in the kitchen. The scene is taking place in the kitchen. The setting has been established four times already. If she’d just written, “Mac sat,” the reader isn’t going to assume he’s sitting in the living room or the tire store down the street.
Lorf notices that there’s a chair left open.
That would have been where I would have sat, had I been concious, which somehow made me sad.
Again, needless italics. If this were an interior thought, it should have looked like:
That would have been where I would have sat, had I been conscious. Somehow, that made me sad.
The quality of the writing and formatting is declining with each new chapter, which to me signifies that at this point, Sarem got tired of revising or her editors got tired of making suggestions they knew she was going to ignore and just started sticking, “LOVE THIS :D” in randomly to get their paycheck.
“Charles and I were both part of a touring show in the ’70s. I was barely eighteen, and Charlie was almost twenty-one. He was working as a magician, and he was so arrogant; I couldn’t stand him.”
Again, Sandwich Jr. is dying and time is of the essence.
My mother babbled a little, thinking about when Charles was young. The thought of how handsom he had been back then made her crack a smile, until he interrupted.
Did I mention that her daughter is dying? And now Sandwich is thinking about how hot the ex she cut her child off from is?
“And she was just a silly card reader,” Charles interjected. He grinned devilishly, knowing how much Dela would bristle at those words. They apparently still knew how to get under each other’s skin.
I just…you guys. This woman denied this man the right to see his own child, and he apparently didn’t care enough to do anything about it. They can still get under each other’s skin? They should loathe each other. You don’t do shit like that unless there are real, very serious problems. They shouldn’t be acting like old friends. None of this makes sense.
The chapter ends with Sandwich saying:
“Anyway…as I was saying…”
which sets us up for the next chapter, in which Sarem writes out her parents’ love story in flashback to force the title of the chapter to fit the theme.