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Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 19 Death (part one) or, “Super easy, barely an inconvenience.”

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There isn’t much to report in the way of news this time around. Which is odd, right? I mean, considering this is definitely going to be bigger than Twilight and is going to be a major motion picture *checks watch* this year? Really? Are we still buying that line?

This is another ridiculously long chapter, so at the risk of extending the recap of this book out through the course of my entire natural life and into the bowels of hell that will feel like a blessed escape from this shit pile, I have to split the recap in twain.

Chapter nineteen begins with Chuckie Spopperfield and Mac sitting in Zani’s room.

The seconds felt like hours, the minutes felt like days, and the hours felt like years while they waited for Dela to be ready.

That’s pretty much what the last three chapters have felt like, honestly.

My body, if you missed the shallow breaths I was still taking, looked cold and lifeless. I couldn’t tell you where “I” was (as far as my spirit was concerned) because I have no memories of this except theirs.

It’s cool. We’re really not all that interested in where you were during this whole If I Stay interlude. But thanks for going on to tell us how worried Mac is about you.

While Mac looked hollow, like his soul had been drained of any life, Charles knows how to maintain the appearance of looking like things were okay even when they aren’t.

Wow, check out the double POV skew here. Sure, authors sometimes skew POV but twice in the same sentence is Olympic-level failure.

Wait, I just realized what Sarem competed in during the totally real Olympic career she claimed to have in the comments section here that one time. Which I will never stop bringing up. Writing Failure is an event, right?

As an aside, Lazi notes that Charles picked up the habit of pretending that everything is/was okay when it isn’t/aren’t because he’s such a great performer. I want to know how this is like, the one aspect of social interaction he’s managed to successfully copy and act out. Because like. He’s not great at interacting with other people any other time in the book.

Dela comes in and tells them that everything is ready for the ritual. She asks Mac if he remembers what he’s supposed to do.

Thinking through what she had said, he worked to convince himself that he coudl do what he had been told he would have to do. He slowly nodded his head in agreement. “Uh, yeah, I think so.” He didn’t sound very convincing.

Oh good, that’s exactly what you want in a dude who’s about to plunge a dagger into your heart.

He was also feeling the pressure of what he was responsible for.

That’s right. Everyone remember that Mac is responsible for the fact that Lungfish used him as an ingredient in her super dangerous spell without his permission and therefore he didn’t act exactly the way he needed to in order to carry out this spell and it’s…all his fault?

“Okay. Well, it’s time now. We need to go, but there is one last thing, Mac. You have to believe this will work. The mind is a powerful thing––the most powerful thing on earth even––and it can will magick into existence…or extinguish it.” Mac swallowed and nodded; he understood that my life was most certainly in his hands and it terrified him.

So…is Mac saying this? No. He’s not. That’s why he shouldn’t be tagging the dialogue. Especially since there’s no paragraph break at all and the previous paragraph ended in his thoughts, too.

Dela asks Mac to carry Larva outside, but first, we need to hear again how tragic and sickly she looks:

Looking through his eyes, it shocked me that my body looked so lifeless and the only thing that contradicted that was just small breaths that you could barely see. It was odd to see how I looked through everyone’s eyes––but more so through Mac’s. My skin was pale and when he touched my hand it felt cold and clammy.

The repetition in this book, my god. Stop padding it out. The faster we get to the end of this mess, the better. Also, does she look somehow healthier through Sandwich and Chuck’s eyes? If her physical state is barely breathing and lifeless, it’s unlikely she looks spry and hale when non-Mac people look at her, so the line about “more so through Mac’s eyes” makes no sense.

Like 99.33333333% of this book.

They go into the backyard and under some old oak trees and weeping willows.

In that moment, the trees truly looked like they were weeping.

Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids saying "Are you FUCKING kidding me?"

Even the god damn trees are mourning for the potential loss of this remarkable soul?

Christine Taylor in Dodge Ball saying, "I just threw up in my mouth a little bit."

Mac’s grip seemed to tighten as he walked, clutching me against his chest and kissing my forehead softly, in a way that was both caring and protective.

You know. As opposed to when you’re protective but you don’t really care.

A few evenly placed fountains had been cleverly built by my mother so that they could be converted into an altar whenever needed.

Why not just put up a permanent altar? Everyone in town knows you do witchy shit, Subway. Seems a lot easier and less expensive than running underground plumbing. Also, I need to understand how fountains can be converted to an altar, but again, there’s no description where it’s needed and tons of description where it’s not needed. We get paragraphs upon paragraphs about Zed’s clothing and how it flutters as she descends from on high, but no real sense of what this altar and ritual space looks like.

I can’t get over this. There’s barely any description of what the setting looks like in the most climactic scene of the book. Who does that? Who. Does. That.

The moonlight was shining through the trees and beaming directly on the spot where Mac was going to lay me down. It was almost perfect––and also very strange––the way the eerie silvery light hit exactly on top of the altar as if it were part of a lighting plot from the theater.

“It looks very dramatic, trust me!”

Dela led the walk wearing a cloak and carrying a large lit candle, which made her look practically regal. She was also carrying something oddly shaped and wrapped in velvet, which she held close and protectively.

I need to go off on a tangent here about crushed velvet and witch aesthetic. I have never in my life understood why velvet is so popular among a demographic that owns so many god damn cats. If the Neo-Pagan community ever broke free from the spell of crushed velvet the entire lint roller industry would collapse.

They walked to the long, stone table in the middle of the backyard.

Wait, wait, wait. On the last page, they had already walked “to the back part of the grounds behind the house and stopped under several large ancient oak trees near a couple of weeping willows.” That’s where the makeshift altar was. Now, it’s a stone table in the middle of the yard. No editor caught this? Sarem herself couldn’t keep track of the setting of the climax of her own novel for an entire page?

Charles took the ropes that Dela also had in her hands and bound my legs and arms to the table.

Is she gonna get away?

Mac is still struggling to grasp the “maghjihk is real” theme of the past two chapters.

Dela had explained everything that was about to happen to him as best as she could and––though it sounded crazy when he heard it––he thought that perhaps when he saw it, it would seem better and not as insane.

I’m going to buy a thesaurus, roll up into a Wizard World con, find their resident scam artist, slam it down on her table, and walk away without a word.

The winds were blowing hard and thunder could be heard off in the distance. Lightning danced across the sky and ripped through the clouds coming closer as the storm blew in; suddenly it was bellowing and intense.

If it’s stormy, how can they see the perfectly staged moonlight?

I had to admit that the storm made for a dramatic type of evening and was very fitting considering the situation––though it was a bit too Vegas for my taste.

Castiel from Supernatural walking into water with his arms wide open with the words "I quit" at the bottom.

It’s too Vegas for her taste. Literally, there was a dramatic storm as part of her majikel illusion that she designed, but yeah, these effects outside in nature where they are actually supposed to happen are just tacky.

I fucking hate this book so much. I’m going to Facebook Live me eating a whole god damn birthday cake and drinking a bottle of whiskey when I finish this recap. And the cake is going to say “Team Fuck This Scam Artist” in icing.

Dela ripped my shirt just enough to expose the middle of my chest, then took out a vial and rubbed something red on me. It reminded Mac of something he had seen in a movie once where it was called dragon’s blood.

Dragon’s Blood is a resin. You can’t make essential oil from it. Most Dragon’s Blood oil is either just fragrance oil or it’s some base oil with powdered dragon’s blood resin in it.

So, you know how Sarem references all the time that something looks like a movie or something from the stage? It’s making me so worried about my current YA work in progress. The heroine is autistic and had wanted to go to film school. She compares things to various movies because they’re her focused interest (as they were mine when I was a teenager). Now I’m seriously rethinking this character trait because of how clunky it seems in Handbook For Mortals. On the other hand, we know that Sarem talks about how dramatically cinematic her scenes look because this novel was basically a sales pitch for a movie she couldn’t get off the ground because her screenplay was fucking terrible, too. So, maybe I’ll be okay.

Even though they’re about to do this dire ritual and Zippy’s life is still in danger, Mac starts wondering if vampires and werewolves are real. No, this is actually a full paragraph happening in what is supposed to be an action-filled moment in the story:

That began to make him wonder: if magick was actually real, what else did people go around thinking was made up that really existed, as well? What about werewolves, vampires, fairies, genies, or Never-Never Land? Was everything made up really based off of reality? He thought of all the wonderful and terrible things that might actually be out in the world, and silently laughed at the irony, not really knowing if he was actually correct.

…where is this supposed irony here?

Every chapter has to have at least one inappropriately timed reminder of Zart’s staggering ethereal beauty and that’s not gonna stop just because she looks like a corpse:

Dela walked around and stood on the other side of the stone and me, her beloved daughter. She paused for a moment to stare at my face. Her words echoed in my head as she gazed and my face and thought about how hauntingly beautiful it was.

Deli takes out a dagger and she and Mac hold it together until it pulses with electricity.

Once Dela let go of the dagger and only Mac was holding it, he had to grip it with both hands as the pulsating energy grew stronger. Mac could feel it coursing throughout his entire body. The moonlight hit the dagger and it almost began to glow.

The moonlight that can break through the storm clouds?

As the winds picked up and rain started to fall, the sky seemed to open right above the altar.

Oh, that’s how the moonlight is getting through to be a totally not-Vegas-like spotlight.

The Vegas thing is still killing me. Like, she was criticizing how the setting of her possible death looked? That is laughably entitled. I’m not going to get over it.

The church bells chime and Sandwiches has to yell over the dramatic thunder and wind to tell Mac that it’s time.

Mac had been taught the chant that he needed to say, but for a moment panic spread over his face. He had forgotten the chant. How had he forgotten the simple words that Dela had taught him just moments earlier in the house?

When, exactly, was this? Because we never saw him learn these words “just moments earlier.” It never happened.

Also, you had one job, Mac.

Dela realizes he needs to call for his line, so she gives him the first two words so he can remember.

The words were odd and Mac didn’t know what they really meant, because when Dela offered to explain them to him, he said he didn’t want to know.

Um.

So.

How is this spell working if Mac has no idea what he’s saying? How can he trust he’s not being asked to reanimate Zargon as a zombie or kill her entirely and steal her magic or something? He doesn’t know these people. How does he know they’re not making him recite a spell that will bind him to Larvae forever? Or siphon off his life into her?

Also, let’s talk about the words, what they say, and just how “simple” they are:

Sa ovim bodežom, prožet magije starih, i moje vere, neka ljubav preokrene kletvu Ja vaskrsne duh, dušu i telo Via Gardrich Verdicy!”

Now, I don’t know from Croatian, but that’s the language Google Translate detected (although it suggested that the last words should be spelled differently, despite not being able to translate them. Maybe it’s a name?) and it claims the spell he’s chanting is “With this dagger, pervaded by the magic of the old, and my true, let love reversed the curse I the crosswind spirit, the soul and the body Via Gardrič Verdičj!” This isn’t “simple” and easy to learn in moments for someone who doesn’t speak Croation. Is Sarem high?

Then, he did the unthinkable.
Though his hand quivered, he plunged the dagger into my chest.

Raise your hand if the thought of stabbing this character in the chest isn’t unthinkable at all to you.

The moment the dagger went all the way in, my body lifted from the altar everywhere but from my chest.

So, she flopped around, is what this is describing? And how is her body lifting up if she’s tied down? Did we forget that part?

Lightning struck the dagger, and Mac flew backwards, falling to the ground; in his hand he foudn that he was holding an oddly shaped glass sculpture, similar to what sand looks like when lightning hits it. In the flashing of the lightning, the weird contortions of the glass were twisted and yet beautiful.

Not only is “lightning” repeated three times in this paragraph, it’s repeated twice in the same sentence. This is probably one of only parts of this book that I genuinely like, though. Not just because Mac gets struck by lightning, but because it’s one of the few places where there seems to be any continuity or motif, in that it’s a callback to the earlier sand glass thing in the illusion. So, congrats, we found something that actually works here.

Zark starts barfing blood and the ropes around her arms and legs that the author forgot about before let go.

As he watched, the sight of blood pouring my mouth terrified Mac. He realized that he had no idea whether that meant things had gone right––or horribly wrong. He hadn’t actually been told what to expect once he did his part.

Oh, sweet! Irresponsible and selfish spellcasting is genetic. Sandwich McGee should have told Mac exactly what was going to happen in this ritual if she wanted him to be a part of it. Not doing so is just straight up bullshit.

Deli says they need to get Zunk inside, so Charles carries her.

I never really got to ride around on my dad’s shoulders as a kid. And though I didn’t get the real chance of experiencing him holding me then, either, at least I got his view of it.

Yet another example of Sarem having no clue how to employ italics. This isn’t a thought. It’s a part of the narrative.

They take Zard into her room, undress her and wrap her in blankets, and we get a reminder that she looks lifeless, is taking shallow breaths, and doesn’t remember this except through the memories of others. Writing Tip: If you’ve spent several chapters writing under the pretense that your narrator is viewing things through other people’s memories, trust that your readers are smart enough to remember which literary device you’re using. Because after a while, it becomes insulting to be reminded over and over again.

Finally, Mac couldn’t stand the silence and lack of any info. He looked directly at Dela and in an experated tone asked, “So, is that what was supposed to happen? Is she okay now? She doesn’t look okay.”

Another “looked directly at.” It wouldn’t stick out if it was “looked at” or “looked to” or “glanced at,” or some variant, but the “directly” just makes it pop out so hard that it feels like it’s been said more than the eighteen times it appears in the manuscript.

He did not have the patience my parents seemed to be exhibiting, probably because he expected all magick to just go “poof” and be completed.

Maybe that’s because no one is explaining anything to him beyond “stand here” and “say these words you don’t understand” because Pastrami The Great is just as magically negligent as her daughter. She tells him that yes, all of that was supposed to happen and now they just have to wait.

He hated Dela’s answer. It was too blasé and noncommittal for someone used to action and split-second decisions. He was learning what it was like to have anxiety––something he didn’t really deal with normally.

Wait, are we still talking about the same Mac? Because the Mac we’ve seen throughout this entire book is riddled with anxiety, constantly snapping at people and freaking out about safety, as per his job. As for split-second decisions and actions, he’s been dating-not-dating the same woman for a year and is still “taking it slow,” so he can’t even take the action of figuring out what their relationship is or what he wants it to be. That’s like, the main conflict in this fucking book.

Dela tells Mac that there’s no reason to freak out, since they can’t really do anything other than wait. She also says it could be “several long nights” before they know whether Zug is going to be okay or not, so Charles calls the theater to let them know what’s going on. And then, of course, he sprints onto his private plane and shows up at the theater in time for curtain, because that’s what happens in professional Las Vegas shows, right? Ex-Olympic figure skater Lani Sarem, who showed up to this blog to tell me that the show must go on and no one cares if performers die on stage in front of a horrified audience surely would never make such an amateur mistake as writing about a show temporarily closing because of a horrible, horrible accident?

What’s even funnier about this to me is that unlike the case with Sofia’s fall, there’s no real indication to the cast or crew that Ziffendel’s injuries were caused by something in the illusion. So, the show will close down instantly if a performer falls ill, but if a performer falls from a great height during a rehearsal, no big, the show must go on.

When he came back in, Mac questioned Charles about why he woudl call them and tell them anything. The questions flooded the room: Wasn’t he afraid they would find out things that he didn’t want them to know? Wasn’t it risky to tell them things? the air was filled with “What ifs?”

Charles had a very logical reason, though, which didn’t surprise Mac. After all, if Charles was anything, he was logical. Charles explained that when you don’t want people to ask too many questions you try to make sure they feel like they are in the loop with information so they don’t start poking around. It made complete sense, and Mac saw how good Charles and Dela both were at making sure people only learned what they wanted them to––even though they made everyone feel like they knew everything.

I love that Mac finds it super reassuring that his boss is great at manipulating people. This is another one of those places where you can practically read the editor’s note in the margin. “How is Charles able to explain what’s happening without anyone asking questions?” And yet again, instead of addressing the issue in a thoughtful way, Sarem just opts for telling the reader not to worry about it, it makes sense to the characters.

Charles told Mac that he had made a special call directly to Jackson, ensuring him that they would also keep him in the loop.

Assuring, Lani. It’s assuring him.

Charles knew that Jackson hadn’t been thrilled that Mac went to the hospital when he was’t able to since he was still on the floor with the band, uanware what had really been going on backstage. By the time Jackson learned anything, Mac had already been on the way to the hospital. On the the other hand, Jackson did not know that Mac had made the trip to Tennessee.

Again, this smacks of an author directly expressing an editor’s concerns in the text, rather than editing the text so that it’s never an issue. Why wasn’t Jackson blowing up Charles and Mac’s phones, if he cares about Larvae so much? It’s not much of a love triangle, certainly not the point that “Team” buttons are needed for marketing, if one leg of said triangle doesn’t really give a shit about the supposed object of his affection.

Linda praises Mac for his dedication to watching over her and compares him to a guardian angel but notes that he’s super exhausted. He passes out on a loveseat in her room. I’m going to end this recap here because it’s a common sense place to split the chapter.

We’re almost done, guys. Hang in there.

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175 Comments

  1. Jane Eyre
    Jane Eyre

    Guys, I have a theory. Zanzu is the bad guy here, and like Mac and Lambo girl and Sophia are all onto her and the incident with Mac was him actually trying to fight her and stop her from harming people further but he failed to ax her off so he and Charles went back to Dela, who after learning about Lemonade Girl and the cyclist and Sophie and everything realised her daughter has to be stopped and this whole ritual was to trap her in an endless dream, in a world of her own/her own fantasy. and everything before and after is just that. Her being trapped in a mirror or somewhere and living in a great illusion caused by chaos magick.
    I mean yeah, I know I basically described the ending of Dishonored 2, where a non-lethal option is to trap Delilah in a painting that is the illusion/dream life she always wanted to live where she’s the beloved Empress. But it would make sense with the characters acting out of character, Sophia suddenly pushing Zade away, her getting everything she wants and getting a place without any audition. In reality it was all different but she’s telling it to us from her illusion/dream.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Guys, I have a theory. Zanzu is the bad guy here, and like Mac and Lambo girl and Sophia are all onto her and the incident with Mac was him actually trying to fight her and stop her from harming people further but he failed to ax her off so he and Charles went back to Dela, who after learning about Lemonade Girl and the cyclist and Sophie and everything realised her daughter has to be stopped and this whole ritual was to trap her in an endless dream, in a world of her own/her own fantasy. and everything before and after is just that. Her being trapped in a mirror or somewhere and living in a great illusion caused by chaos magick.

      Hmm, sort of like the Geico commercial where the hero is tied up and is forced to watch the evil-villain’s PowerPoint presentation on how he’s gonna end the world before bad-guy offs the hero. (Hero’s rolling his eyes at this point)

      The only issue I have with Zamma-a-Lamma-Ding-Dong being the ‘bad guy’ is that she volunteered her own jeopardy when she executed the Kay-oss Mahhhgg-ecch without bothering to tell anyone she needed Mac to ‘ground’ her. At that point she’s not even a good ‘bad guy’ because a good villain should have a very legit reason to do what they do, and I’m not seeing any valid reason for Zoobie-Doo to blow it like that.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        Hm I’d chalk it up to the expecation Lani has that we’ll take everything she says at face value because she told us so. So in the world of her own of course everyone she tells this story too doesn’t notice it’s her fault or she’s responsible.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  2. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    “I’m going to buy a thesaurus, roll up into a Wizard World con, find their resident scam artist, slam it down on her table, and walk away without a word.”

    PLEASE DO THIS OH MY GOD.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Lara
      Lara

      And make sure to post a video of it!!!!

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Nah, no need for a video. Zani isn’t very photogenic.

        July 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      There has to be finger guns involved. Or at least putting on a pair of sunglasses while making a pun.

      “Would love to stay and chat… but you’re all booked.”

      yeaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Huhuhu finger guns and the pun although I think the silence is better for Jenny’s psyche. No need to engage more than necessary. 😉

        July 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Btw, I absolutely second this and was gonna bring it up in the comments if no one else had. But I think we all agree it’s a great idea. XD

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
  3. “Pastrami the Great”?! PASTRAMI THE GREAT?! YES.

    I am dead now. I am dead from that, and I expect everyone to comment on how ethereal and beautiful my visage is.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Cris
      Cris

      Jenny truly outdid herself with that one.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        TBH I don’t even remember writing that.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
        • You must have been too busy channelling everyone else’s memories, thoughts, and feelings at the time, then. Clearly.

          July 8, 2018
          |Reply
  4. Anon
    Anon

    All this reliving events through others’ memories is super tiring to read even in these recaps. This was not a good choice in storytelling. Third-person omniscient would have actually worked, but noooooo …

    “… and was very fitting …”

    So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays. (thank you, John Keating/Robin Williams.)

    The “like a movie” thing in this book is clunky because it’s lazy writing (see above). As a character trait with a reason behind it, it will work. But I think you know that. 😉

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Plus the main character is actually a teen. We expect teens to be all pop-cultury.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
  5. Cris
    Cris

    Reading this chapter only reinforces the fact that the long-ass chat should’ve happened after the ritual and not before. If they were gonna have to wait anyway, why not have Sandwich and Charles tell their “love story” when they were certain there was nothing else they could do for Zani?

    Also, I feel kinda tempted to write an fic that has an Orient Express inspired ending, with all the characters maligned by Zani getting to exact their revenge.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “an Orient Express inspired ending, with all the characters maligned by Zani getting to exact their revenge.”

      Would that include readers?

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cris
        Cris

        Of course, we deserve some satisfaction!

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  6. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    Everyone remember that Mac is responsible for the fact that Lungfish used him as an ingredient in her super dangerous spell without his permission and without telling him in the first place and therefore he didn’t act exactly the way he needed to in order to carry out this spell and it’s…all his fault?

    There. Fixed that for you.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Oops. That comes across as too snarky. Didn’t mean it that way. Just trying to say Zoobie never told Jersey Mac ‘n Chuck-E-Cheese that she had to rely on Mac to ‘anchor’ her.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
  7. Grace
    Grace

    Your recaps make my day, Jenny. 🙂

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  8. Is it wrong that I’m hoping there’s a second book or a movie so that these recaps can go on? 😀

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sarah
      Sarah

      I can only imagine that Jenny wouldn’t be able to continue the recaps, a la Fifty Shades of Crap, because the task was just too soul-sucking.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
    • Failed Indie
      Failed Indie

      There are soooo many other flavors of bad book out there, too, with so many What Not to Do-type lessons to learn. It’s a wide, beautiful world of badness.

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
  9. Skylar
    Skylar

    Oh my god, this book is just rife with irresponsible and unethical magic (sans -k because effing seriously real magic does not require an extraneous consonant and a spelling that was popularized by a bigoted, elitist douche).
    Non-consensual use of another person’s entire being as a spell component. Binding an evidently decent dad to prevent him from even pursuing custody of his daughter so her mother doesn’t have to deal with the man. Making someone who never believed in magic previously the active party in a ritual and then not telling him what he’s doing or what the result of those actions could or should be (especially when intention is commonly agreed to be a key factor in any spell). This is a handbook, alright- a handbook of magical don’ts.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      Who popularized the spelling of magic with a k? I’m all curious now (and too lazy to Google :P)

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        Gardner, I think.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  10. Mike
    Mike

    I’ve never understood the appeal of crushed velvet. People say it’s soft, but touch it! Actually touch it! It’s only soft if you touch it a certain way, otherwise it’s horrible! It’s very unpleasant from a tactile perspective, and when I look at it I can FEEL it! I can’t stand that fabric. I used to dream in textures (I really don’t know how to explain that to people so just go with it) and velvet was always one of the worst. I’d wake up and have to touch something ACTUALLY soft.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      “I’ve always hated this carpet. It’s stained and frayed in such distinctive ways… but very definitely made of wool. Right now I’m lying on polyester.”

      – Saito, Inception.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I know this is an old comment but what is the material that looks like velvet but is cheaper and softer? Velveteen? I don’t know if i’ve dealt with actual velvet in my life but i’m a tactile person too (not on your level; i simply can’t stand some fabrics that look nice but feel rough in clothing for instance) and i’ve gone with so-so fabrics on occasion, if it simply wasn’t optimal. I also hate crunchy lace, hated lace and mesh overall, but as i’ve aged some of those became a little more tolerable. Reversible sequins are true magic though.

      July 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Re-enactors prefer cotton velveteen because many velvets contain synthetics such as rayon.

        Of course, if you can afford silk velvet…sigh….

        July 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Ah, yeah. Velvet is a type of weave so some of that could depend on what it’s made from. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m thinking of something else regardless. (I certainly can’t afford silk anything.)

          July 20, 2018
          |Reply
  11. Liza
    Liza

    I can’t help but think that the glass motif was purely coincidental. Like Larvi really that Reese Witherspoon movie where the lighting strikes the beach and makes glass, so she just had to find a way to incorporate it into her own “movie.” And then she forgot that she had already done it for the illusion, so she did it again here.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  12. Mike
    Mike

    I am presently a much, much more spiritual person than I used to be. Once you spend two weeks having the same very vivid, very detailed dream every single night and then that exact thing happens down to very specific details, you kinda lose your ability to deny there’s shit you don’t understand going on in the world. But I used to be VERY athiestic and ‘if I can’t explain it with science, it’s not real’. And even now I do still sometimes have a crisis of sanity where I question whether the stuff I have personally witnessed is me being delusional. It’s hard to believe in things you can’t explain when you’re not the type of person that that just comes naturally to is the point I’m getting at.

    I don’t buy for one second that Mac would fully believe in what he was doing in this situation. He has not witnessed any magic, only been told by two people he has no reason to trust that it’s totally real. He doesn’t understand the spell he’s helping cast, so he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He believed so vehemently that tarot was bullshit that he had a petty fight over it not that long before. He’s riddled with guilt and fear. There’s not a chance in hell this man genuinely believes that this spell will work. So if Dela is saying that he needs to believe it to make it happen, then it’s not gonna goddamn well happen.

    In real life this would have ended with Mac killing Zade and then Dela having to cover up the whole situation when the cops come to arrest them all for a ritual murder.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Liza
      Liza

      Which would have been another much better story than this one.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
  13. Natasa
    Natasa

    Yeah … nothing about that “Croatian” sentence is remotely grammatically correct. (It’s actually Serbian, not Croatian – Croatians say uskrsnuti while Serbians say vaskrsnuti, but I digress.) It sounds like it was translated word-for-word by like a 3rd generation Serbian-American who has literally zero grasp on Serbian grammar because it’s literally all wrong. All the grammatical cases are wrong. The verb form is wrong. The word choice is wrong. It’s bad. It’s so bad.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • any insight as to why she chose Croatian in the first place? It feels super random. Is there like a large. Jewish and/or Romani presence Croatia/Serbia/Bosnia?

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Natasa
        Natasa

        There are many Romani communities in the Balkans (the Roma, the Ashkali, Balkan Egyptians and the Kalderash being the largest ones) but they generally speak Romani languages/dialects with varying fluency in the majority Slavic languages so I have no idea why they would use Serbian for a spell. Also, I’m pretty sure magic is considered mahrime (impure) in Romani communities anyway… And there was a sizeable Sephardi community in Bosnia (mostly Sarajevo) before WW2, but again, they would have spoken Eastern Ladino as their mother tongue, so no idea why they’d use Serbian to cast a spell either.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          Probably because it sounded pretty or vague enough that the average American wouldn’t recognize it upon hearing it.

          I wonder if Lani herself is able to pronounce it right…

          July 6, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            She just doesn’t want to do research. I didn’t know about the Sephardics community in pre-WWII before reading Natasa’s post, but you can bet I’d use it as a plot point if I were writing a novel. Nazis persecuted both Jews and Romani, so the heroine could have inherited several generations of not trusting the community, of feeling that even seemingly friendly neighbors could turn on her in a moment.

            Now you’d have a basis both for Dela’s overprotective, controlling behavior and for Zade’s delayed rebellion.

            Is there an opportunity to add depth to her characters that Sarem hasn’t missed?

            July 6, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            “Is there opportunity to add depth to her characters that Sarem hasn’t missed?”

            Yes.

            Dela is the one teaching Mac these words, not Zade. So we don’t even know if Zade herself can speak them or recognize them. There’s many reasons why immigrant parents don’t pass on their culture. They want their children to integrate into American society better, they’re trying to avoid descrimination, old fears from the homeland makes them cautious,

            Or in my parents case…. “I don’t know.”

            This moment Zade could’ve reflected on these words and given some background on her family beyond “they’re literally gypsies” and “magick.”

            American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a great example of people coming to America and bringing their culture, losing it, or changing it due the current situations. Lani just chooses stuff because it sounds cool.

            July 6, 2018
    • Amy
      Amy

      I wonder how hard it is for Mac, a typical American white guy from Nevada, to speak that “simple” sentence. If Mac knew a different language, it would most likely be Spanish. But I doubt he knows a second language, which makes the mental image of him trying to pronounce that even more ludicrous.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Indigo
        Indigo

        That drives me up the WALL. You can’t just give someone a bunch of words to say in another language that they don’t speak at all and expect them to reproduce it comprehensibly. Language learners spend *years* learning to replicate the pitch, cadence, emphasis and phonemes of their L2. If magic words have to be said in a particular language, then it makes sense that they have to be said a specific way, which ten minutes of repeating after someone else is not going to cover. ARGH.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
        • GS
          GS

          Not to forget the fact that it’s INCREDIBLY hard to memorize something that doesn’t make sense to you, for which you have no frame of reference at all and that you can’t connect to other stuff in your brain that you already know about. I’m reasonably good with languages (learned English, Latin and French at school), but when I tried to learn Chinese, I was just… lost because it was so different from every language I’d ever learned before. Give me one of those long poems from the Lord of the Rings instead of that “easy” sentence every day of the week.

          July 6, 2018
          |Reply
    • Oh good. I was going to go hunting for someone I knew who spoke it, but now I don’t have to.

      July 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • Catnews
      Catnews

      Is Via Gardrich Verdicy a name? Maybe a street name?

      July 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Maybe it’s the Italian designer who produced the perfect flowy Lucky’s top to match her perfectly cut bangs.

        July 16, 2018
        |Reply
  14. Liza
    Liza

    “Charles knew that Jackson hadn’t been thrilled that Mac went to the hospital when he was’t able to since he was still on the floor with the band, uanware what had really been going on backstage.”

    Who, exactly, knew what who knew about what happened when? This sentence makes no sense to me. Either my brain finally stopped working, or this is the worst phrasing in the history of bad phrasing.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      It’s very simple. Charles knew that Jackson hadn’t been thrilled that Mac went to the hospital when Mac was not able to, because Charles had been lying on the floor after trying to understand what was going on.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        ‘They told me you had been to her,
        And mentioned me to him:
        She gave me a good character,
        But said I could not swim.

        He sent them word I had not gone
        (We know it to be true):
        If she should push the matter on,
        What would become of you?

        I gave her one, they gave him two,
        You gave us three or more;
        They all returned from him to you,
        Though they were mine before.

        If I or she should chance to be
        Involved in this affair,
        He trusts to you to set them free,
        Exactly as we were.

        My notion was that you had been
        (Before she had this fit)
        An obstacle that came between
        Him, and ourselves, and it.

        Don’t let him know she liked them best,
        For this must ever be
        A secret, kept from all the rest,
        Between yourself and me.’
        ‘That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet,’ said the King, rubbing his hands; ‘so now let the jury—’

        ‘If any one of them can explain it,’ said Alice, (she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid of interrupting him,) ‘I’ll give him sixpence. _I_ don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.’

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  15. Spacegeek
    Spacegeek

    “I have never in my life understood why velvet is so popular among a demographic that owns so many god damn cats.”

    BRB, dying.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  16. Jack
    Jack

    Oh gosh, I do love these. Thank you so much, Jen, for taking your tike to huge us these delicious morsels of hilarity for free. You always leave me chuckling gleefully to myself, and that is a wonderful gift to give.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  17. Jack
    Jack

    Oh gosh, I do love these. Thank you so much, Jen, for taking your time to guve us these delicious morsels of hilarity for free. You always leave me chuckling gleefully to myself, and that is a wonderful gift to give.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Another Amy
      Another Amy

      Let’s pretend that Jack didn’t double post and that this repeat comment is actually from me, because I feel exactly the same way. I adore these recaps and check your site multiple times a day with the hopes that there will be a new post. When there is a new post, I literally pump my fist in the air and shout, “Yes!”

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
  18. Mel
    Mel

    I just can’t get over how bad this writing is. Lani’s head is shoved so far up her ass and into her daydream that she doesn’t get how ridiculously awful this all is.

    “That began to make him wonder: if magick was actually real, what else did people go around thinking was made up that really existed, as well? What about werewolves, vampires, fairies, genies, or Never-Never Land? Was everything made up really based off of reality? He thought of all the wonderful and terrible things that might actually be out in the world, and silently laughed at the irony, not really knowing if he was actually correct.”

    Sarem’s grasp of irony is about as good as Alanis Morrisette’s. Actually no, it’s much, much worse.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Evil!Blonde Bitch
      Evil!Blonde Bitch

      Sarem’s grasp of anything having to do with the English language and writing is shockingly awful. My close friend is dyslexic and didn’t learn English until she was six (immigrant family that only spoke German at home), but even with her struggles, she knows how to write about ten times more coherently. As far as I know, Sarem is a from-birth English speaker. How can she fail so colassally?

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        How can she fail so colossally?

        Never had to pay attention in school because she was so “pretty?”

        July 5, 2018
        |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        And shit I misspelled colossally. Goddamn it. God fucking damn it.
        There goes my well-nuanced criticism. Also my friend recently came out as trans and I KEEP MISGENDERING HIM BY ACCIDENT I AM SO SORRY.
        Just end me now.

        July 5, 2018
        |Reply
        • Rowan
          Rowan

          I’ve been there with the friend. Learning to use new pronouns for someone takes practice. You’ll get there 🙂

          July 5, 2018
          |Reply
        • Sigyn Wisch
          Sigyn Wisch

          Your criticisms of Lani are still valid 🙂

          July 5, 2018
          |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          And you’re not charging nearly $30 for the experience. And you admitted it instead of, “I had three editors.” And you caught it immediately. And you corrected yourself.

          July 6, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            We all know Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch went through three editors because she first two quit in despair.

            July 8, 2018
        • Evil!Blonde Bitch
          Evil!Blonde Bitch

          Ahaha you guys are so nice. ☺️ It’s nice to see supportive people on the internet.
          I’m trying REALLY hard to properly gender this friend, even in my thoughts, even on random internet shit, because I’m trying to drill it into my mind that I must shift the way I identify him. His family isn’t super great, and even if he’s understanding that all people mess up by accident, it’s just important to me, you know? The whole point of being a Designated Bitch is that you are a GOOD FRIEND TO EVERYONE unless a Mary Sue shows up!!!!!!

          July 8, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            How should Designated Bitches deal with Mary Sues?

            July 8, 2018
          • Evil!Blonde Bitch
            Evil!Blonde Bitch

            Depends on the class of Sue. There should really be a Handbook for Designated Bitches with rules on how to defeat each kind of Sue.

            July 8, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            I’m particularly interested in dealing with Hall Monitor Mary Sues. You know, the self-righteous benevolent types who were the prototypes for the song “Popular” from “Wicked.”
            They want to make you their little PROJECT.

            July 8, 2018
          • Evil!Blonde Bitch
            Evil!Blonde Bitch

            AND EXPECT YOU TO BE GRATEFUL aszpjagdbbrjbdgbw
            I can’t stand those Mary Sues in fiction, much less real life. Every Mary Sue is annoying at best, but the women who model themselves after that type of Mary Sue are AWFUL. I would rather rip each blond strand out of my bitchy head then be one of their “projects.”
            I would suggest some good holy water and a fair amount of snark, Violetta. Be careful. The enemy is as fierce as she is pretentious. Battle bravely.

            July 9, 2018
  19. Jack
    Jack

    And of course all the spelling mistakes and double-postings in my above comments are simply my own way of honouring the glorious writing styles of Ms Sarem.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Evil!Blonde Bitch
    Evil!Blonde Bitch

    Ohh Jenny, you missed the most cringeworthy part of this chapter! I’m sad now.
    So after Delayed Subway says that Zero is “hauntingly beautiful”, Limelicious randomly puts another italics sentence in and says “Although I wasn’t sure if I liked the ‘hauntingly beautiful’ part of her description.”
    It made me laugh so much I scared my cat off my lap. Sure you didn’t, Zani “tries-on-eight-dresses-to-be-just-hot-enough.” Sure. Gonna keep believing you on that one. Just like I’m totally gonna believe you when you say the movie is coming out this year.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  21. Kate
    Kate

    I love your writing, Jenny, but man, these are SUCH a slog. The source material is just SO GOD DAMNED bad, that even your phenomenal sense of humor and incredible snark isn’t enough to make it not suck.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  22. Lily
    Lily

    Dela rips Zog’s shirt so Mac can stab her? Is that the show shirt or a hospital “shirt?” Or did Dela undress and redress Zoppy so she could tear the shirt, rather than unbuttoning it or pulling it up or down? Why did I feel as though this “dramatic” scene has been in many 1980s’ teen scary movies?

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Dela rips Zog’s shirt so Mac can stab her? Is that the show shirt or a hospital “shirt?” Or did Dela undress and redress Zoppy so she could tear the shirt, rather than unbuttoning it or pulling it up or down?

      Yeah, you’d think with the “hours felt like years” in this section they could have prepped the patient before they took her out to the slab. You know, carefully remove the shirt, go to the store and get some Betadine, put that on the entry spot, mark the exact area to insert the “dagger” with a Sharpie “X-marks-the-spot” so poor JerseyMac can at least have something to aim at. That would have taken, what, 5 minutes tops? Sure, it would have seemed like hours, but does no one in this book ever think ahead?!?

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
    • RodeoBob
      RodeoBob

      It’s like the “rolling” thing in Galaxy Quest, isn’t it?

      “Did tearing her shirt help the healing magic?”

      “Yeah, as a matter of fact, it did!”

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      When I read that line, I thought it was just going to be another description of someone’s tits. (Though good on Lani for NOT including it. Ogling an unconscious, dying woman would’ve been… wait, there’s still a million descriptions of how beautiful Zade is, so does it still count?)

      The ripping of the shirt bothers me. Was it too hard to pull UP the shirt? Why you gotta rip a perfectly good shirt?

      And her DAD is standing right there, watching all of this. I doubt Zade is wearing a bra, so he’s getting an eyeful of side-boob.

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
    • River
      River

      I had similar thoughts while reading this whole shirt business. For SURE the hospital would have put her into a gown which has these handy dandy snap thingies at the shoulders so people can do, I don’t know, real medical interventions? But let’s be honest here it isn’t the most flattering attire and also very close to a dress… I mean come on, Zrump only gets those from the mall followed up by attacking young lemonade stand girls.

      But have you ever tried just ripping someone’s shirt without a hole already in place? I cut people’s clothes off as part of my job and literally you don’t tear crap with your hands. Nor are you putting a button up shirt on a dying person. No way, no how!

      However cutting the shirt is probably less romantic and way too prosaic. And manhandling a limp body is also awkward so pulling the shirt over her head would be less then sexy. Oh what is a tragically beautiful author to do?

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        yep, my thoughts exactly. Ripping is there for the DRAMAZ

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  23. Grace
    Grace

    I think your idea for an autistic character who compares things to movies seems fine to me, not only because I’m autistic too and I get it, but also because you’re a good writer who has considered why comparing things to movies works for the character and situation, instead of ‘Uhhh how do I show Mac is dazzledvwith minimum effort, I know, I’ll say it reminded him of a movie.’

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Arlene
      Arlene

      I was going to comment just to say this. I’m so excited to read this book.

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • I am not autistic, and it sounds good to me, too!

      There’s a big difference between (badly) describing a scene as if it were in a movie, then (badly) hanging a lampshade on that, especially when it doesn’t actually sound like any coherent movie, and a character who is genuinely knowledgeable about movies either comparing what is happening to an existing movie, or thinking of it in terms of how it would be framed if it were in a movie. (I’m not quite sure which you mean, but both are very different from Sarem’s clumsy mess.)

      July 8, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Agree. Sarem is just lazy; Jenny wants to depict someone who uses movies as a filter in an attempt to INTERPRET the world. I can relate to this, because I used books that way when I was growing up. The rules seemed so clear in Alcott, Dickens, Charlotte Bronte*; real life involved constant hypocrisy, double-talk, and gaslighting.

      *Emily’s universe, however, seemed as morally murky as mine.

      July 8, 2018
      |Reply
  24. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    “…You have to believe this will work. The mind is a powerful thing––the most powerful thing on earth even––and it can will magick into existence…or extinguish it.”

    Wait. If Zagnutt is dying because of a magical effect, and you’ve just said that magick can be extinguished by disbelief, wouldn’t the best way to cure her be to, you know, surround her with grounded, non-magic-believing people? Wouldn’t it be better to just phone over to the Amazing Randi and see if that doesn’t solve the problem?

    …That began to make him wonder: if magick was actually real, what else did people go around thinking was made up that really existed, as well? What about werewolves, vampires, fairies, genies, or Never-Never Land? Was everything made up really based off of reality? He thought of all the wonderful and terrible things that might actually be out in the world, and silently laughed.,.

    So this paragraph, the “what if magic is really real, and what a big wide world it really is” soliloquy is a pretty basic, pretty common moment of character development. In a good story, it’s our audience-surrogate character who is being introduced into the larger world, and we, the readers, share in that moment of wonder. Two things really need to be in place to make this work though.

    First, we have to strongly identify with the character, or at least feel sympathetic to them. (the nicest feelings I’ve had about Mac were solid indifference)

    The other thing is that you have to earn that moment. The character has to see something amazing, or experience something supernatural. We, the readers, need to see them brush up against this larger, secret world in a tangible, un-ignorable sort of way. This isn’t the monologue of someone who has vague feelings or someone who has been told about something. This is the reaction of a guy who just saw someone transform into a werewolf right in front of them, who felt the heat from a blast of flame from a wand. We don’t have that either. Mac hasn’t seen or felt or experienced anything that’s undeniably magical.

    Frankly, given that Mac works for a staged illusion show, it should be even harder for him to have this moment. He should see Chuck and Deltoid conjure things out of the air and assume it’s sleight of hand. He should look at the stage show and be figuring out how the illusions were done.

    But no, spooky lighting, ambient weather, and two very serious, very earnest con-artists “magick-users” are enough to turn him around on the whole “is magick real” question.

    Bleh. It’s like listening to someone try to play the “Star Wars” symphony on a kazoo; I recognize what they’re trying to do, but really?

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mike
      Mike

      Honestly for this moment to truly work, the story almost should have been written from his perspective. You have someone who is a firm non-believer, who’s entire job revolves around knowing magic is just an act, who gets uncontrollable feelings for a girl who actively pisses him off that he can’t explain. He sees her do things that he can’t figure out how she pulled them off and it frustrates him to no end. He’s drawn to her despite himself but being around her aggrevates the stubborn non-believer in him but he can’t stay away! While out camping he thinks he sees her put up her tent in a way that’s not possible but he chalks it up to it being dark and him being tired. He happens to be walking past in the mall when the lemonade stand explodes and he can’t figure out why. He DOES notice the biker flip. He sees a bunch of things around her that he can’t at all explain and it drives him nuts! A part of him actively hates being around her because of it, yet the magic hold she has over him keeps him there anyway.

      Then when this happens he’s told magic is real and suddenly all those things he saw make sense, but he also gets the part about the mother and daughter being able to make you obsessed with them and then he’s doubly angry. He’s still frustrated because he doesn’t believe these things he’s being told and he feels like they’re fucking with him, but it also explains absolutely everything AND makes him see he’s there against his will. And he needs to deal with this because either these parents are putting Zade’s life at risk over something that isn’t real and are going to kill her on a belief (something real parents do sometimes when it comes to forgoing medical care in favour of things like homeopathy) or he needs to come to grips with the fact that magic is real and he’s been tricked.

      And while he’s having his crisis, Dela and Charles are having one of their own, knowing they can only save her life if Mac gets on board, but not knowing how to make him believe given Charles’ entire career is making fake magic look real. He does end up saving her, but instead of a happy ending, it ends with her being told about her power over men (which she legit wouldn’t know in this version of the story) and being a goddamn human being about it and realizing it’s terrible and them breaking up because he sees that he’s been a toxic douchebag to her because of all the confusion and frustration and anger being around her caused him and her not wanting to be with someone unless she knows they ACTUALLY want to be with her, so she is going to go off on a quest to try and find a way to turn off that passive magic.

      Then the next book could follow her on her path to learn and grow and get better and find a real, healthy relationship.

      I wonder if I could write some of the ideas this book has generated without looking like I ripped her off…

      July 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amavra
        Amavra

        Not only is that a million times more interesting than what LS did, it makes all the random nonsense that happened (lemonade girl, bike guy, Sofia falling, etc) exist for a reason!

        And makes having a series make sense. And like. Ugh. I love reading the fixfics people come up with. The story could have been good.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        That sounds like such a great story. If this book were a lot less awful or popular enough to deserve fan fiction I’d say someone should write this. But as it is, I guess you would not want to associate yourself with it. And it would be better than the original but couldn’t be published, which would suck.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
        • Mike
          Mike

          “But as it is, I guess you would not want to associate yourself with it.”

          This right here is honestly the single most frustrating aspect of this book to me. Reading through these recaps there are SO MANY better stories that could be made from it, I’ve had so many ideas! But I’m not creative enough to differentiate it enough to remove the taint…

          July 7, 2018
          |Reply
          • Elizabeth
            Elizabeth

            I dunno- that sounds like a writing exercise for you to work on your creativity. I’m sure the crew here could manage some feedback on your sketches and stories 😀

            July 8, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Elizabeth: That is one of the things I love about the Jennyverse. We don’t just laugh at bad writing; we get inspired to think about ways it could have worked better.

            I haven’t tried to write fiction in a while, but I still love to read fiction, and this has given me a better understanding of why I can thoroughly enjoy one supposedly trashy novel, but another irritates me to the point where I can’t even finish it. Even a book that isn’t meant to be Tolstoy requires a CRAFT.

            July 8, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I’m with Elizabeth; i think it sounds like a great writing exercise. Besides, i find it amusing the people who want to write fanfic just want to fix the mess that Zani made and you can only improve on the original overall if you try. You could a) write it as fanfic and not worry about filing the numbers off so you can focus on the writing itself, b) try and learn how to turn inspiration into it’s own separate thing which is useful (everyone is inspired by something and if you make enough changes while improving the story, this one would become unrecognizable in a heartbeat; plus any resemblance to real or imagined people disclaimers go a long way), or c) try doing both as separate short stories instead of a novel. You could do the fanfic first to refine the idea and then try rewriting it as it’s own thing with ideas that aren’t in the original but are something you’re interested in.

            July 17, 2018
  25. L
    L

    I raised my hand and my husband asked me what the hell I was doing. The end.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • River
      River

      YUS! Me too.

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Chris
        Chris

        I was just thinking how cool it is that across the world, at different times, several people have raised their hand to a screen. Hahaha

        July 9, 2018
        |Reply
  26. The weirdest thing in this chapter to me is how much you can tell LS is anticipating acting out these scenes of sexy shallow breathing. Like, the self-objectification is kind of disturbing. This is her grand wish-fulfillment fantasy: being a hot corpse over whom her loved ones shed many tears.

    Also, hot take: This is actually Mac’s story since he’s the one with an arc whereas Zade is completely static. So much for female empowerment.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      “being a hot corpse over whom her loved ones shed many tears.”

      And the trees. Don’t forget the trees.

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        I honestly laughed when I read the trees line because it was bad on so many levels 1. it was a bit redundant “weeping willows looking like they’re weeping” Lani-Not-Sarem pointed it out I believe in her recaps. THAT’S WHERE THE NAME COMES FROM. 2. I have nothing against self-indulgence and having people miss a character but this? this is ridiculous because Zade is so beautiful and important that even the sky and trees are grieving for her.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  27. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    She wasted 3rd-person omniscient to have characters checking out her sock-puppet’s bits during a costume fitting, but she doesn’t use it here, where it might create a bit of suspense–will she survive, or won’t she?

    She also doesn’t switch to MortaDella’s diary, where she could gaze at “my daughter’s pale, still beautiful face,” agonize, “would the charm work?” and panic: “Something was wrong with Mac–he gave me a blank look. I gave him the first few words, but he still looked blank. I couldn’t say them: my love for her was based on flesh and blood relation. Someone who loved her independently had to say the words. I knew he truly loved her; I saw the looks of mingled guilt and grief on his face–but none of us could give in to emotions now! If we missed this stellar alignment, there wouldn’t be another for years, long after my poor child had died….”
    And so froth.
    That “froth” wasn’t a typo.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amanda number 2
      Amanda number 2

      Wow. I just started to like and identify with Sandwich. I’m not a writer so I don’t know much about voice or perspective or anything, but as a reader I’m learning so much from this blog! What stands out most about LS’s writing is that she hasn’t created a single likable character. And then ViolettaD could do it in one partial paragraph. Amazing.

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Wow. Thank you. These days I usually write more research papers than fiction, but I still READ fiction, and it amazes me that Sarem constantly *explains* things about people instead of having them say or do something that demonstrates it.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I think the only reason Sofia ended up remotely likable is because one of the editors died on that hill and then either gave up on everything else or got cycled out or knew about the other editors and left the rest to them. And we never really get to see inside anyone else’s head except through the lens of Zani. Honestly, all of the characters are interchangable; the main four in this chapter barely have distinctive personalities and lives. It’s much easier to sympathize with a puppet that pretends it exists than one that talks about the hand up its ass without actually making a commentary about said hand and sympathize even more if they make a constipation joke and basically act human instead of like they’re an actor doing their best to remember their lines. But having flaws while being considerate helps too. These characters have no true empathy.

        July 17, 2018
        |Reply
  28. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    So, I think you’ll be fine with having your autistic protagonist reference movies and stuff because you actually know how to write believable characters. It’s one thing for a character who is stated to be autistic to reference their special interests. As you know, that’s what real people do. It’s entirely different for someone to be like, “and it was just like a movie, tee-hee, isn’t my life glamorous and Better Than Yours?”

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  29. VGK
    VGK

    Oh hey, Jackson! Weren’t you supposed to be a major love interest that suspiciously got left out of the climax because let’s be honest, the chances of Jackson Rathbone doing this movie are zilch?

    Lani really should’ve hustled harder to get this out while Twilight was still relevant.

    July 5, 2018
    |Reply
  30. Perlite
    Perlite

    The fact that NOW is the time they all have to wait around really compounds the confoundingly-placed slog that was the last several chapters. Yeah, nothing says in-depth backstory time than your daughter/love interest/whoever-the-fuck-POV-it-is-currently internally hemorrhaging in the next room over. No, by all means, refill that ice tea glass, wouldn’t want to inconvenience you by performing a literal LIFE-SAVING PROCEDURE.

    I know that WE don’t care whether or not Lozenge dies, but I didn’t think the author did too!

    July 6, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      And she didn’t set up an excuse for the delay by having MortaDella explain they have to wait until the Moon is in the Seventh House or whatever before they perform The Ritual.

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I wonder how scared Mac really is. When you bring someone home from the hospital, it’s either because they’re well enough to come home, or they’re dying and you want them to pass in a familiar place. Since Zade obviously is still dying, Mac probably thinks Charles is bringing Zade home so mom can say her goodbyes.

      So instead of explaining to Mac the moment he gets on the plane, hey we’re witches and we use magic, they talk about Charles and Dela romantic first meeting.

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

        “I wonder how scared Mac really is. “

        He’s not, because we’re not, because we know that she survived because she’s telling the tale after-the-fact. So the author forgot to have Mac ‘N (Chuck E) Cheese ‘N Pastrami actually react as if her life was actually at stake. Very common newbie writing error.

        Much like all the other faults we’re finding in the book. It is, after all, only her first. Now, it’s done, and that’s an accomplishment in its own right, but what she forgot was that she actually has to get better at the craft before even thinking about publishing, let alone scamming her way onto the bestseller list. But to get better she has to be be willing to learn and none of us is seeing that happening any time soon.

        So rather than suggest ways for her to improve it (and every one of your suggestions is way better than the original) I’m going to take the opposite tack and not bother to suggest anything. That way she’ll either 1) learn to find the motivation to get better on her own, or 2) slip away into obscurity because she’s branded herself as an incompetent newbie writer. And that’s all this is, guys, just a badly written first book. Nothing more.

        July 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          For Saran-Rap to crib any of our ideas, she would have to a) recognize that they are superior to her own, and b) acknowledge this fact to herself. The first is hardly likely; the second is logistically impossible.

          July 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • Drea C
            Drea C

            Nah, she’s still on the fake it til you make it track. She’s apparently still buying fake reviews instead of learning how to write.

            July 9, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            I love that we both did the same joke fake review joke at the same time. XD

            July 9, 2018
        • Amy
          Amy

          While it’s sweet that you consider my idea to be better than Lani’s, I wasn’t suggesting ideas. It’s just common sense to think that. You don’t take a loved one out of the hospital, away from people who are trained to help them, unless you believe they’re going to die soon.

          A lot of characters in this book lack common sense. There’s a difference between having a character act a certain way in order to have the story progress, and then there’s being an absolute moron. I recently saw the new Jurassic Park movie, and several times throughout the film characters would throw their self-preservation out the window, setting themselves up to get eaten. My audience GROANED during these parts because they were so obviously gonna get eaten. It wasn’t clever; it was frustrating as hell.

          This book is frustrating. No guy or gal is gonna wait MONTHS for their not-girlfriend to make a decision.

          Zade would’ve been hated, scrutinized, and slut-shamed for coming in on her first day and getting the job without question.

          Mac would have fired Zade, Sofia, and had Charles arrested for multiple safety violations.

          Jackson would’ve gotten slapped with multiple sexual harassment claims.

          Sofia would have brain damage, broken bones, and bruised organs from her 50ft fall.

          This isn’t me purposely scouring the book to find plot holes. This is common sense, and if taken with a smidge more of care, if Lani had actually listened to her editors, all these incidents could’ve progressed the story further in a natural way. Instead Lani treats the characters and audience like idiots, and instead of listening to our grievances about the book, she goes,

          “ya’ll just upset about the controversy” or “I had three editors.”

          or, “I’m too busy putting up fake 5 star reviews on goodreads to listen to ya’ll”

          July 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            “several times throughout the film characters would throw their self-preservation out the window, setting themselves up to get eaten. My audience GROANED during these parts because they were so obviously gonna get eaten. It wasn’t clever; it was frustrating as hell.”

            “Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.” – Scream

            July 10, 2018
  31. Gretel
    Gretel

    “This is taking too long,” Mac thought, as Dela was preparing the ritual.
    Not like they’ve been sitting around for HOURS sipping iced tea and chatting. But those ten minutes of preparation? EONS of time!

    //”in a way that was both caring and protective.

    You know. As opposed to when you’re protective but you don’t really care.”//

    I actuallay laughed out loud. XD
    But I guess there might be one instance where someone is protective without caring but then again that’d be in a toxic relationship with an abusive person, hence it wouldn’t be protective but more like possessive, so…yeah, the caring is in the word protective.
    It’s kinda funny because if you think about it, Sarem thinks that there’s protective without care thus confusing possessiveness with affection. Releaving in a fascinating way.

    July 6, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Good point. I think the whole book, but especially this, is proof that Zani is toxic.

      July 17, 2018
      |Reply
  32. Athena
    Athena

    A few evenly placed fountains had been cleverly built by my mother so that they could be converted into an altar whenever needed.

    If Deli Slice is so good at masonry, why didn’t she just do that and keep the tarot/witchy stuff on the down low so she and her daughter could have a normal, non-persecution riddled life? /sarcasm

    Ok, as much as Mother Nature can be a drunk ass bitch here in TN (I have seen it rain on one side of my house and the sun shining on the other), what is being described here is a little much. Though pop up thunderstorms are all too common in the summer here because of the high humidity, they’re usually in the mid to late afternoon. And speaking of the humidity, forget cat hair, Pastrami on Rye is about to die from heat stroke in a crushed velvet cloak if it is summer. Just the thought of that touching me in the heat we had today makes my skin crawl.

    Her words echoed in my head as she gazed and my face and thought about how hauntingly beautiful it was.

    Zinger is just a younger version of Sandwich, right? So is Dela thinking she was hauntingly beautiful when she was that young, or that her daughter’s beauty is haunting because it’s identical to her own at that age? The former shows she’s just as vain as her daughter, the latter hints that maybe she’s creeped out by her. Of course, we all know which it really is.

    July 6, 2018
    |Reply
    • Concerning the fountains/alter, I just kinda pictured a couple bird feeders from Lowes holding up a wooden plank.

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Collections, Inc. They have the really twee stuff.

        July 6, 2018
        |Reply
  33. CornettoLass
    CornettoLass

    Does anyone remember that scene in “Dracula, Dead and Loving It” where Steven Weber stakes a vampire and gets sprayed with a ridiculous amount of blood? That was all I could think of during the whole dagger scene.

    July 6, 2018
    |Reply
  34. Carl
    Carl

    So my wife is currently doing an artist’s residency at a gallery in Vegas and the other day, Carrot Top came into the gallery and apparently really loved her giant dick vase.

    That story doesn’t really go anywhere except that I felt like you should know Carrot Top does just wander around Vegas and is into giant dick vases.

    July 6, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Thank you, Carl.

      I feel much better now that I know this.

      July 6, 2018
      |Reply
      • L
        L

        This makes me happy in a way that I cannot describe.

        But CT is still not skipping through the mall, hand-in-hand, with Wayne Newton or Celine Dion, or whomever, because I’ve already forgotten who he was getting dippin dots with.

        July 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Wait! Did he buy it? I’m guessing not since you said the story didn’t go anywhere… also your comment is much better than his cameo in this book, even without any additional details.

      Plus the dick vase sounds delightful. I can see anyone liking that.

      July 17, 2018
      |Reply
  35. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Sort of off-topic (but it could involve weird incantations, though I’m double-damned if I’m going to memorize Sarem’s pseudo-Serbian Word Salad): I’m going to a high school reunion fairly soon (mostly because one of the women on the committee was one of the few people to be nice to me in 4th grade when I was That Weird Hyper Kid). If the School Sociopath shows up–the Frenemy I had to pretend to be friends with just to get teachers off my back so they could claim they were helping my Social Skills–should I:

    1. Say something bland like “hey how’s it going?” and find an excuse to get away from her?

    2. Tell her that since I no longer need to get teachers off my back by pretending to be friends with her, there’s no reason for me to do her homework or watch her try to blackmail me into letting her molest me and steal my possessions?

    3. Tell her about Cthulhu? (Or Jesus, but so far, the votes have been going to Cthulhu).

    The last one would allow me to give her the usual spiel about non-Euclidean geometry and Cyclopean architecture in the sunken city of R’lyeh, plus the joys of eternal existence…and GILLS.

    In case that alone doesn’t make her bugger off, I’ve even thought of preparing some Cthulhu Unholy Cards to hand out. This for the visual, maybe (so many to choose from):

    https://www.google.com/search?q=cthulhu&client=ms-android-verizon&prmd=inv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwia-bnqnovcAhWk6oMKHdNDCjoQ_AUIESgB&biw=412&bih=604#imgrc=G0fTo8lS8yDzlM:

    And on the back, of course:

    Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

    All suggestions are welcome.

    July 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Perlite
      Perlite

      Eh, when it comes to high school frenemy/high school reunion stuff, I find that it’s best to make it clear how little an impact they made in your life.
      “Sorry, have we met?”
      “That’s cool, gotta go over there for a bit.”

      Unless she’s one of those people who insist on talking even though you’re clearly not interested. Keeping up the whole “look how affable I am” charade.
      Then Cthulhu may be your one and only savior, y’hah.

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        I like that! I might be able to pull that off. I knew her best in elementary school, distanced myself in jr. High, and I think she actually moved away and finished at a different high school at some point, although some people who graduated elsewhere have stayed in touch with the group.

        In addition, I’m horrible at faces and not much better at names–a guy I knew in 2nd grade came up to me at the first reunion I went to and had to tell me we were in so-and-so’s class together, and he wasn’t a bully, so I didn’t have to block him out of my memory. I might REALLY not recognize her, although I hope she wouldn’t see the horror in my eyes when she says her name.

        OTOH, I wouldn’t put it past her to start trying to remind me of All The Fun We Had, and at that point, my vocal coach has suggested that I “refer to ‘The Unspeakable One’ [since Cthulhu’s enemy Hastur mustn’t be named–kinda like Voldemort] a few times, and occasionally look to the sky as if fearful that the Byakhee will swoop down and carry you away.”

        Ehye hrii chtenff!

        July 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          If the horror enters your eyes, immediately start talking about Cthulu, as if you didn’t even hear her but instantly thought she should be informed about the elder gods, whoever she is. Problem solved! (Hopefully, i didn’t respond too late btw. Haha been busy and thus unable to really comment as much in a timely manner.)

          July 17, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Thanks, sorry to reply so late! (Long road trip to avoid inconveniences of flying and enjoy scenery and the occasional shoo-fly pie or Italian water ice on the way.)

            The School Sociopath did not show, so it was actually pretty fun. Never had to disturb Cthulhu from his dreaming/waiting in R’lyeh at all.

            It helped a LOT to know that so many people in the TroutVerse were pulling for me.

            July 20, 2018
  36. Another Amy
    Another Amy

    So… which of the characters had the job of hauling out the huge stone slab and placing it across the fountains to make this altar/table? Because apparently the altar is not always set up. Most of the time it just looks like “a few” evenly spaced fountains under the trees. (Why “a few”? Why not just 2?) Maybe the reason they waited 48-72 hours to do this ritual is because Dela had to schedule some contractors to come out with a crane to lift the stone slab and place it on top of the fountains. You would think that an altar that must require multiple people to help lift and assemble it each time one wants to use it would actually be a lot less secretive than one that is just kept out all the time, at the back of one’s private property, surrounded by trees that would screen it from view.

    July 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mydog'sPA
      Mydog'sPA

      Another way of saying to my comment above that these characters show all the same ability for long term planning as a skier that pours their latte on their pants to get warm on the ski lift.

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
    • L
      L

      So are they in a triangle formation? Or are there four or five? Is the altar a hexagon, with a hole in the middle? Maybe they drape her arms and legs over the planks and let her ass hang down into the middle, so her butt’s all wet. That’d make it hard to stab her… but it’s not like anything else here was well-planned.

      In any case, they gotta make sure they position her carefully. That way, the moonlight can frame her beauteousness perfectly, in the middle of the raging storm and the willows can look like their actually weeping.

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mydog'sPA
        Mydog'sPA

        “In any case, they gotta make sure they position her carefully. That way, the moonlight can frame her beauteousness perfectly, in the middle of the raging storm and the willows can look like their actually weeping.

        At 3AM on the dot, no less.

        Are the willow weeping because even they’re tired of reading this drek?

        July 7, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          The willows are weeping because they wish someone had planted them out in Bumblefuck Bayou where they could be surrounded by live oaks and cypress instead of crushed velvet and linguistic abominations, and have alligators slithering over them instead of these characters.

          Sarem has almost succeeded in making me wish I was there–if only so I could spring out from the bushes at the climactic moment, hissing, “Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!” and watch these poseurs jump a foot in the air.

          July 7, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            I know someone who made a complete stranger piss himself like that, so maybe ALL of their butts would be wet.

            July 7, 2018
  37. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    “So, you know how Sarem references all the time that something looks like a movie or something from the stage?”

    It’s because she isn’t describing things. It’s easier and lazier to say that the dude looks like Harrison Ford than to actually describe him. She could have looked at pictures online of alters and based Sandwich’s on that. Hello Pinterest! I’m not suggesting she copy anything, just use it for inspiration. When she says something looks like a movie, all I can think is “I look like Amy Lee (AN: If u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!)” from My Immortal.

    I read a story where when the MC got in trouble, he’s ask himself what famous movie characters would do. It was mostly played for humor, but it helped him get out of a jam. It worked with the character, especially because he has dreams of being an actor. In the hands of a competent writer – like you , not Lnnie – it’s a way to give depth to the character based on what TV and movies are referenced as long as we still get description.

    At the beginning when she describes her house, she says it looks like something out of Gone With the Wind. Great, I’ve seen that movie at least a dozen times. But if I hadn’t, I’d have no fucking clue what she was talking about. They’d have to be rolling in cash to have a place like that. And it shouldn’t matter if Sandwich has an altar set up because Zanny had no friends to come over an see it.

    This book sucks and your book sounds really interesting and it’ll be lovely.

    July 7, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Comparing looks to a celebrity is a huge pet peeve of mine in fiction. Can’t tell ya how many times I’ve put down a book when the main character describes themselves as [insert celebrity name]. Not only is it lazy writing, but it comes off as kinda cringy.

      I used to have a celebrity crush on Chris Pine. Then one day I got a new coworker and he looks a LOT like Chris Pine. Even customers would go up to him and say, “Hey, do you know you look like him?” As a result, my crush on Pine became super uncomfortable. I supposed for me, real life and fantasies should never mix. It makes watching Star Trek a lot less fun.

      July 7, 2018
      |Reply
  38. To quote a certain robot trapped in space watching horrible movies, “They just didn’t care.”

    I feel like that explains all of the problems with the book.

    July 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      July 8, 2018
      |Reply
  39. Starr
    Starr

    Huh. When I Google translated the lines, it said it was in Bosnian, not Croatian. (Not too sure how those languages work, sorry) But it did gave me a similar translation. Also what was with the sudden switch to a Slavic language anyway? You’d think the spell would be in Hebrew or Latin because of the whole “magic came from the Bible thing” but NOPE, let’s put this in a random language because it’s
    extra MAAHHHJICKAL.

    July 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • Barbara
      Barbara

      They’re very similar languages that were considered as different dialects of one language (Serbo-Croatian), until recently.

      July 9, 2018
      |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        AND SHE’S JEWISH (apparently) so Hebrew would make like 10 times more sense than what Lani put in. But she doesn’t care about worldbuilding! At all!

        July 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jane Eyre
          Jane Eyre

          Yeah also putting random language does seem incredibly wel tone-death because she seems to think that Croatia/Serbia and Romani people are the same, so you can just mix them all up.

          July 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Croatians are traditionally Catholic, Serbians are traditionally Muslim. This has given rise to years of political turmoil.
            Add a family with Sephardic and Romani roots, and you could have a REALLY interesting back story for the family’s history, but as usual, Sarem just randomly picked something out of her back pocket

            July 9, 2018
          • MayaB
            MayaB

            @ViolettaD Serbians are most definitely not traditionally Muslim. Actually the separation of Kosovo from Serbia happened (partially) because there was a big Muslim population coming from Albania, who lived there. Serbians are Christian Orthodox and have been like this for many centuries. Even when they were a part of the Ottoman Empire, they didn’t lose their religion.

            July 13, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            @Maya B
            I did not know this. The newscasters during the most recent conflicts represented the situation very differently.

            Wow, so much material that could have made for a really interesting back-story here….

            July 14, 2018
        • Amy
          Amy

          According to several sites I went to, Croatian and Bosnian are spoken by a very small percentage of the population. That would help in some of the world building as it narrows down which part of Romania Zade’s family is from. However as Mac is acting as our straight man, he’s the one the audience acts through. So when Dela gives him that sentence, he should’ve been like, “What language is that? Where’s it from?”

          But we skipped over all of that! For what-?? For descriptions of mom’s tits! Back stories on characters who were barely in the book! For mutha-freakin’ ice tea! Ice tea got more description than goddamn Jackson!

          July 9, 2018
          |Reply
  40. Barbara
    Barbara

    I don’t speak much Croatian, but my native language is very similar to it. Even I can see that this sentence structure is botched AF.

    July 9, 2018
    |Reply
  41. Mary
    Mary

    Every quote from the book is physically painful. How, how, HOW did this get published?

    Thank you for being a voice of reason here.

    July 10, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Self published. She thought it was at the level of “Hunger Games” meets “Da Vinci Code.”

      She still does, apparently . . . . .

      July 10, 2018
      |Reply
  42. Inconnue Gal
    Inconnue Gal

    So is anyone else thinking the altar/stone table and queenly mom procession bit is totally a stolen description from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe? (With Zoogle as Aslan, of course.)

    July 10, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Except that Aslan’s sacrifice made me cry, even though I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen afterwards, while Zoosk’s ritual made me yawn, because I didn’t care what was going to happen afterwards.

      July 10, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        Not to mention you didn’t want Arslan dead, I think all of us would be cackling if Zoooba actually died. I mean a lot of times in this book all of us wished she got hurt or died because she’s such a terrible yet boring person.

        July 10, 2018
        |Reply
        • Drea C
          Drea C

          I love “terrible yet boring,” It describes the character, the book, and the author.

          July 10, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            It really does. There are characters you love to hate–Richard III, Cruella DeVille”l–but Zantac isn’t even fun THAT way.

            July 10, 2018
    • Inconnue Gal
      Inconnue Gal

      Not the storyline, of course: I’m just imagining her googling “dramatic book death scenes” or “witch”, “knife”, and “ritual” and not actually paying attention to what was going on in the passage other than it was from a well-known book, involved a magic-using character, and sounds good.

      July 10, 2018
      |Reply
  43. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    So apparently Zootopia’s charm powers work on trees to.

    What are we going to see a car try to hump her leg?

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

      Nah, it’ll just be a VW bug squirt oil on her shoes ala Herbie . . . .

      July 11, 2018
      |Reply
  44. Amanda
    Amanda

    I haven’t read the rest of the post yet but I had to stop and point out that, in the sentence with the POV skew, she also switched tenses like 3 times. Double gold Olympic medalist right there.

    July 11, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Three editors.

      Five years to write and publish.

      Lani demanded $25 for this book, plus shipping and handling.

      “Bigger than Twilight.”

      July 11, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        Yeah, and she can’t even copy the damn formula right. Like with BIG SECRET, we get hints of Edward being a vampire. The first time we see him he has black eyes but then he has golden, and it’s like yeah, light can change eye colour but not to that extent, and then he goes for vacations into a place filled with cougars and bears, we learn that people don’t go there because it’s dangerous. and then he frigging moves across the parking lot and stops a car with his bare hands and comes out unscratched. also, we get exposed to the vampire world through an outsider, Bella doesn’t know. In Handbook we get to see the world through someone who already is part of this world so getting exposition through like her thoughts and stuff doesn’t seem very organic because someone who KNOWS wouldn’t be thinking in exposition. They’d use shortcuts. Also through someone who is new to a magic world, we also get all the mysteries and secrets, in Zazu’s case her keeping the fact that Charles is her father just seems so contrived and forced. I mean it still could be saved if it was mystery just to characters. That’s how it’s sometimes handled in fiction that the mystery is for characters and audience is sort of let in on the secret. I think that’s how suspence actually works, like Lidsay Ellis said it’s giving audience information the character doesn’t have. But Lanzi just wanted a quick buck and ticket to hollywood.

        July 11, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          Why was Charles’s paternity kept a big secret? To avoid looking like Zade got special treatment? She was already getting special treatment! To avoid gossip? Charles is a famous magician that’s better well-known than Copperfield, it was going to happen either way. I’d rather be known as the illegitimate child rather than his mistress. To have Zade avoid the press? She has magicK and she’s the star of the show. Avoiding press is impossible, but she’s proven she can handle herself just fine.

          There was absolutely no reason to make Zade’s paternity a secret except for that stupid reveal at the hospital. And it wasn’t even for our benefit, it was for us to watch Mac get flabberghasted while a cartoon wah-wah is played overhead.

          I also don’t understand why Lani didn’t make Charles’s and Dela’s storyline the main focus of the book. It’s already taken up a good portion of the third act, as well in the script, and it’s easily ten times more interesting than anything else going on.

          Is it because Lani wrote her RL fanfic first, and then refused to cut any of those parts out? Because if she primarily focused on the 1970’s, that means she couldn’t have Rathborn playing as himself since he wasn’t born yet? (I’m still hung up on the thought she may have showed Rathborn her fanfiction where he acts like a love-sick puppy towards her. In 2012, I think his kid was about to be born. Just imagine you’re about to go on maternity leave, and suddenly your manager comes up to you and goes, “Hey, I wrote this fanfic! You’re in it, playing as yourself, and you declare your love for me. It’s okay, I reject you, but you still pine after me. Wanna star in my movie?”)

          That probably didn’t happen, but even learning after the fact your manager wrote you (not a character you played, YOU) into a love triangle with Superman and Harrison- Copperfield. It’s still really, really creepy to think about.

          July 12, 2018
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          • Jane Eyre
            Jane Eyre

            Yep to all of the gossip stuff. I mean Charles is famous so him sleeping with his performers is generally known so everybody would just assume Zade gets special treatment because she slept her way to the top. and it’s not like being his daughter would ruin anything for her. Tabloids would write about a bit and then everyone would move onto another juicy scandal. and heck they could actually turn it into a positive thing with the press if they played Long Lost Daugther card. This book hurts my brain and yeah I’m all with the creepiness of Rathbone angle. I generally am against Real People Fanfiction because well those are REAL PEOPLE, not fictional characters you can bend and headcanon with sexualities and personalities and such, and ship with whoever. It’s crossing a boundary imo. Again these are real people, all about them is real, and they might not be ok with having another personality or sexuality put on them, or being portrayed with someone who isn’t their partner or-which I;ve seen too- being drawn or have their name tagged on some smutty story. and these people saying that it makes them uncomfortable or being uncomfortable with that is not censorship….it’s their boundary they have every right to because it’s their name, their face and their life. I don’t know also how LANZu worked that but yeah writing something like that about someone who is in relationship and is expecting a child with his spouse is crossing a line one shouldn’t cross. There is a saying that your freedom ends where freedom of others begin and this is what the saying is about. You’re free to do what you will but don’t cross other people’s boundaries

            July 12, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            Lots of people have fantasies of falling in love with their favorite celebrity. There are dozens of classical and modern day books with these exact scenarios. While I’m not a fan of RL fanfics, I can understand the appeal. (I once tried reading Hamilton fanfiction, and even tho everyone’s been dead for 200 years, I felt super weird about it and backed off.)

            Lani didn’t even TRY to cover up she was writing about Rathborn. She didn’t even change his name! She could’ve called him “Jason” or “Joseph.”

            There’s a good chance Lani met his pregnant WIFE, and despite all of this, she still wrote him in her little fanfic and published it for all the world to see.

            Worse, she specifically made Rathborn single (a lot of fans do this where they omit, kill off, or demonize the spouse to justify the romance). This is so offensive for Rathborn.

            July 13, 2018
          • Julie
            Julie

            As far as the paternity being kept a big secret? Y’know, Lani is a handful of years younger than I, and I remember that Han Solo finding out that Luke was Leia’s brother was such a BIG HUGE HONKING ROMANCE PLOT THING when Return of the Jedi came out, that I can’t help but wonder if she just sort of imprinted on that and then attempted to regurgitate it back out in this, without even stopping to figure out if it worked.

            July 17, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            I think a lot of authors forget the difference between what makes a character “cocky” and what makes him a dick. (HellOOOoooo Faleena Hopkins!)

            Han was a devilish rogue, a cocky bastard, but he wasn’t a dick. He wasn’t staring at Leia’s boobs, talking about sex all the time, or reducing her down to her vagina. (hello again, Faleena Hopkins)

            What makes the “he’s my brother scene” enduring was the fact Han was willing to step back if Leia really preferred Luke over him. This also took place during a celebration, a time where both characters and audiences could smile and laugh. Most importantly, LUKE AND LEIA ONLY JUST FOUND OUT THEMSELVES. They didn’t know, the audience didn’t know! And Leia had a very good reason not to tell: she was busy trying not to die!

            Wheareas in HFM, Mac is a complete racist douche canoe. He was more than willing to throw Zade off that platform when he “thought” he saw her “making out with tongue” with Spellman. The reveal of Zade’s paternity was when she was bleeding out from every orifice. (What a time to put in levity, Lani.) Zade herself knew the big secret, so it made no sense why it was KEPT a secret, even from HERSELF at times????

            I don’t know if Lani drew inspiration from Star Wars. But she if she did, she never asked herself why those scenes worked. For someone who worked with scripts for all her life, she should know better than I on how to construct/visualize a story. Alas, I forget Lani refuses to take criticism in any form.

            July 17, 2018
  45. KR
    KR

    I’m at Comic-Con, and I had a dream that I went to Lani Sarem’s panel for some reason and her friend Ian something was with her. In my dream, at the end when the Q&A usually happens, most people started to leave and she was so desperate to keep them there. It was such a strange dream, I just needed to share.

    July 21, 2018
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      How realistic was this dream?
      Realistic enough for footage to post?

      July 23, 2018
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    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      On Friday night at ComicCon just a few minutes before closing a fellow stopped by our booth and was actually excited when we told him the story. He had a very strong Latin accent. But: show was over and he had to leave.

      Our booth-neighbor said, “Hey, that was the guy that played Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) on the Netflix Lost In Space! My wife and I looked at each other: “Naaahhhh!” He pulled up the pix of Ignacio: Yeah, maybe it was . . . .

      Oops.

      But no Lani sightings, thank goodness.

      July 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        What? So you’re saying you DIDN’T congratulate him for winning “Actor of the Century”, asked him to come to your show or got confused by his real name? I call this fake news.

        July 28, 2018
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  46. A.B.Corbeau
    A.B.Corbeau

    ” Dela walked around and stood on the other side of the stone and me, her beloved daughter. She paused for a moment to stare at my face. Her words echoed in my head as she gazed and my face and thought about how hauntingly beautiful it was.”
    That’s about the creepiest thing one could think of when looking at their half-dead child. Zloty here looks like a corpse save for some hardly noticeable breathing and it doesn’t fill her mother with dread or sadness, no, she thinks it’s hot. Please tell me if she does express any concern for her daughter and it’s just not quoted because there is no way in hell that I’m going to actually read this wreck.

    July 25, 2018
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