The Reckoning, Part 1

After four nights on the run, I was finally safe, tucked into bed and enjoying the deep, dreamless sleep of the dead…

This is such a perfect line for this book to open on. It’s got everything: the compressed timescale, the poor wording (what person actually worried about being dead would think that?), the way everything that’s happened apparently left no lasting impression…

Anyway, it’s just so the author can then say BUT THE DEAD WEREN’T SLEEPING!!!1 because a ghost wakes her up. Also, a bug squishes against her window, which is not something bugs can do on their own, so the ghost has powers. Chloe just stupidly follows the ghost out despite there being no reason they can’t talk right there because the ghost mentions the Genesis project. Forgot to mention the name but it’s as bland and trite as you’d expect so nothing lost. For some reason she assumes that if he’s one of the dead kids, he died in this building, despite the fact there’s actually been no proof ghosts are bound to location. Some hang out in the same place and others don’t. Also, he calls her necro girl the whole time, so I guess he’s familiar with necromancers, but as I said at the end of last book, this group doesn’t appear to have any.

When I was ready, I grabbed the doorknob and—
It was locked. I turned the dead bolt latch and it clicked free. Another deep breath, another second of mental preparation, then I swung the door open and stepped in—
A blast of cold air knocked me back. I blinked. Ahead, fog swirled.
A dead bolt on an attic door, Chloe?
No, I was standing on the roof.

That’s right, Chloe is so fucking stupid she manages to walk onto the roof without noticing it isn’t the attic. Go ahead and kill her, ghost, Darwin has spoken.

At this point Chloe finds out this ghost is another telekinetic, because they’re just all over the place now, because the ghost locks the door behind her. He’s apparently a Volo which is the same thing as the one we heard about last time but better, because that sure isn’t fucking redundant. This is why I really hate fantasy ranking things, what’s even the point of several kinds of things that all do the same thing but at different levels of competence? And why is it so important it be completely divorced from practice or effort? It doesn’t seem to have any purpose beyond some ingrained need to have some people have better blood than others.

Surprising no one but moron girl, the ghost continues to not answer her questions and instead continues to hit on her while continuing to act like a jerk. It’s as if people who act one way generally act that way or something! Sadly, he does not kill her. Sadly, she does not do anything to fight back even as he starts throwing stuff at her. Finally, after getting smashed around and nearly knocked off the roof, she screams, and then remembers she’s got her amulet and decides to see if she can banish ghosts. Fuck you for being an idiot and fuck the author for writing you as one.

Anyway then werewolf love interest shows up to save her after she banishes the ghost.

Since he’d started Changing, Mother Nature seemed to have cut him some slack. His skin was clearing up. His dark hair didn’t look greasy anymore. It still hung in his face—nothing emo, just like he hadn’t bothered to get it cut in a while.

Thus resolving the burning question of how he could be her love interest when he’s ugly.

Chloe attempts to justify her stupidity by explaining she’s at least smart enough to be paranoid. If the ghost really was a dead kid then maybe this place is part of the killing kids thing. So they decide to investigate, despite there actually not being much proof the ghost was anything but fucking with her.

Then she goes on a bit about how strange and mysterious the mansion is.

It wasn’t just big. It was set up weird. Like the architect just slapped rooms onto a blueprint, with no thought to how they connected.

Let’s all have a moment of silence for the death of the American educational system.

Then the rest of the anti-evil-mad-scientist group shows up. And the very first one is a necromancer! What’s up with that? Aside from the fact she should have been able to keep proper surveillance and should have been able to summon the dead kids, they’re supposed to be super rare even among the supernatural community.

Apparently the total group is like twenty people, so they had at least one necromancer to send.

There weren’t any werewolves in the group, not surprising given that there were maybe a couple dozen in the country

So the only one of these that’s infectious is insanely rare. And it’s not so insanely rare that they aren’t fighting over territory and Derek can’t stumble across a pair by accident.

For some reason the group, including the necromancer, aren’t really convinced by their story, despite them having no reason to lie. Everyone’s stupid, so no one thinks to ask Chloe to try to summon Liz. The other necromancer could communicate with her and confirm things.

Tori followed me down the hall, offering tips about how to get the dye out, being Miss Helpful two minutes after calling me a wimp.

See, Tori didn’t want a room of her own because she’s scared, so she said all the others were dusty. Chloe could tell, so she offers to move to one of the rejected rooms instead, so Tori calls her a wimp to consider taking substandard room because she is scared and doesn’t want to be alone and she didn’t want Chloe to switch rooms. Now she’s trying to make up for being mean.

Tori is the only good character in these books.

These days, that seemed par for the course with Tori. She’d start inching toward friendship, then remember we were supposed to be mortal enemies.

Chloe, meanwhile, just gets more terrible.

Anyway, the adults talk. One thinks they’re deliberately lying (because…?) and another thinks they’re confused. It’s like these books are propaganda to convince kids to never talk to an adult when they’re in trouble.

They also offer to train/bring in people to train the kids. Then the kids wander off to amuse themselves for some time. They find a key but they don’t know what it goes to. It doesn’t occur to Chloe to use the key as a focus and try to find a ghost connected to it, because that would be trying to use her skillset to solve problems instead of just letting things happen to her. Derek’s being cagey and Chloe decides to try summoning her aunt and Liz, and of course they don’t think to ask necromancer lady to help.

She tries but nothing much is happening, so she considers taking her necklace off and a woman tells her not to because it’s very dangerous, sounding like she knows Chloe but not like her aunt. So, her mom, presumably. She’s able to communicate that someone will come and do something terrible but Chloe can’t hear who in particular, so logically the solution is to ask again and listen more closely. Therefore instead she makes another bid for a Darwin award and decides to yank off her necklace. Derek comes in right then and tells her to stop.

Then Tori shows off her ability to make a ball of energy and accidentally burns the wallpaper slightly. Simon freaks out because he’s afraid the people will kill them if they seem out of control. It’d help if we had some idea of normal powerlevels here.

Then it’s bedtime and for some reason Derek and Simon’s dad’s friend, who is Andrew, offers her a sleeping pill in case she wants one. She hasn’t even complained about sleeping troubles, it’s like the author just really likes medication.

That night she hears crying from under the bed and then sees a kid with their face smashed apart of Tori’s bed. That scene is soundless so she figures it’s another trauma loop. Then the crying starts up again with what sounds a little like laughing.

So she decides to go get Derek because Tori’s existence is basically just flavor, and they walk around outside a bit.

Then she and Andrew meet up for breakfast. Andrew works at a publishing house or something. He asks what she reads.

I rattled off a few names.
He laughed. “Simon was right. No society-girl princess books for you. I have something you might like, lots of action and adventure.

What the fuck is that even?

Anyway they bond for a bit and then he says to be careful with Derek because he’s only half human.

“And half monster?” I said, my voice cooler.
“No, half wolf.”

Being half wolf doesn’t just make Derek a little different. Half of him is an animal ruled by instinct.

Unlike people which are totally not animals and also have no instincts whatsoever.

I was thinking about uplifted animals once and the idea that they’d probably seem way less emotional, because if they were intelligent, it’d be really easy to work around their comparatively simple instincts. We developed our intelligence naturally and our instincts had to adapt to that.

Anyway, this is also stupid because wolves don’t act anything like the werewolves we’ve seen. They are not viciously territorial or sadistic, and they prefer to resolve their differences with ritualized combat instead of murdering each other.

It should also be noted that, while wolves are absolutely not dogs and people need to stop thinking wolf hybrids are good ideas for pets, they do share most of the important traits with dogs when it comes to getting along with people. The primary differences are that wolves are more intelligent and less submissive, neither of which are a problem if you aren’t keeping one locked up in your backyard as a pet. Half wolf people would make a bad underclass, sure, but there should be no problem with them as people.

Anyway so he lectures her to be careful around Derek and how the werewolves and vampires (no vampires were in the study, sadly) keep to their own kind.

The Cabals won’t hire them. Our special hospitals won’t treat them. I know that sounds like segregation, but it goes both ways.

No, I’m pretty sure that is segregation. He says the werewolves want nothing to do with them either, but no shit they don’t, apparently if they turn up at a hospital on death’s door you chuck them back out.

Next up, Gwen mentions that Simon can’t tell she’s a witch because they modified him to turn off the “recognize witches/sorcerers on sight” gene. Seriously, how the hell did they know where all these genes were? Is there another magic-user type whose power is nothing but read genes? She says it’s PC bullshit, then says the idea was to get them to stop fighting (both groups claim the other is the weaker spellcaster, which seems separate from fighting) despite the fact that PC doesn’t mean that and what she actually said sounds like a great idea. Then she says she thinks the real purpose was to avoid crossbreeding, which is so obvious I don’t know why it only occurred to her, because apparently crossbreeding causes bad things to happen and yeah, avoiding that is what evolution is for.

Anyway, so Gwen says that she heard that Simon’s dad is also Tori’s dad, and they figured it was safe because both parents were pretty weak so the boost wouldn’t be a big deal. Chloe doesn’t think it’s true because Simon’s race is pretty obvious in him and there’s no sign of it in Tori. Therefore she decides to keep all of it a secret from Tori on the basis that hearing the rumors would upset Tori, so it’s much better to make sure when she does, it’s overheard gossip she’s not ready for.

Then necromancy lady shows up.

Chloe asks about the ghost loops she’s been seeing, and necromancy lady says she won’t have to worry about that for a few years and then refuses to believe she’s already seen them because adults are useless and you should never go to them for help.

She then gives the useless advice that the way to deal with it is to walk away. Then she gives similarly useless advice about telling if someone’s a ghost. For Christ’s sake. The really easy way to tell is not to see if they walk through a door, it’s to make sure you touch the person trying to talk to you. Then she takes Chloe to a cemetery for practice and refuses to believe she can accidentally a zombie army and tells them that it must have been another necromancer stalking them after they escaped who did it to convince Chloe she was doing it as part of a really convoluted plan to make it look like they’d made superpowered supernaturals.

Margaret stared at the pendant. “It changed color?”
I nodded. “Does that mean something?”
“They say—” She shook it off. “Superstitious nonsense.

Everyone in this book is so fucking useless.

Necromancer lady takes her to one of the older graves and starts getting out her stuff for summoning, but all Chloe has to do is say the name on the tombstone and she gets a ghost. Then she says that Chloe glows more than necromancy lady, and it seems that’s a matter of power. So Chloe takes the necklace off, lights up like a nuke, and ghosts explode into existence around her, swarming her and fighting each other over who gets to go first. One talks about being stuck in limbo for things he does and needing her help and generally acting like an asshole. Why so many ghosts who think that kind of thing gets you help? Necromancy lady shows she’s actually got some skill by mass-vanishing them with some burning plants.

There’s one left because he stayed back rather than swarming, and he asks them to pass on a message to his family that he died in a car accident rather than abandoning them. They take his message, then necromancy lady says they’ll never actually tell his family because you don’t want word getting out you helped ghosts, they’ll just harass you. This really doesn’t make sense because ghosts don’t seem to even know where necromancers are and when they do run across them they demand help no matter what.

Also, why are people so stupid? Why not help the ghosts and just demand some sort of payment? They must know all sorts of stuff, or they could investigate things for you.

Most of those ghosts were in limbo. Sentenced to limbo. You can’t help them, and you don’t want to

We have no idea what that is or how it works, despite it sounding pretty important. Also, how does this connect up to the demons claiming they get souls in their outright hell plane?

Despite what she just saw, necromancy lady still doesn’t think it’s a good idea to leave the graveyard, because plot. When one of the ghosts they try summoning doesn’t appear, she says it’s time for Chloe to practice a stronger summon, and blows off Chloe’s concerns about zombies. Chloe tries until she can sense she’s about to accidentally a zombie again, and then she insists Chloe keeps going, saying it’s impossible to get zombies without zombie paraphernalia.

The ghost ends up all shimmery, and necrolady insists that she has to keep going even more now, because the ghost is stuck between limbo and their world. Chloe suggests pushing it back instead and she’s horrified, because apparently that can send ghosts somewhere that is as terrible as it is unspecified.

She accidentally raises a squirrel. Necrolady says that humans take priority over squirrels and to finish that, then she can deal with it. So Chloe, being, as established, an idiot, yanks, and accidentally raises zombies everywhere. Also, for some reason the earth cracks in half? She manages to deraise them relatively quickly.

Anyway, necrolady’s horrified by the idea she makes zombies just by summoning too hard. I admit, it is kind of a flaw, even if they meant to make zombies easy it’s still not useful to have the wires crossed and have it happen when you’re trying to do something else.

So she goes back to report to the other adults.

The upshot of her tirade was that I was the devil’s spawn and should be locked up in a tower before I unleashed hordes of the living dead to slaughter them all in their sleep. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what she was actually saying? Well, we’ll never know! Fuck you, Chloe.

Then Derek yells at her for being stupid and going along with it, and Simon suggests she come out and have some icecream.

Two weeks ago, if someone had told me Tori would willingly clean a house—even for money—I’d never have believed it. I couldn’t imagine her wielding a mop. But I’d also seen how hard it had been for her when we’d been on the run, not having any cash of her own. While I was sure this wasn’t her ideal way to earn it, apparently she’d rather scrub toilets than ask for handouts.

More likely she wants something to do. She also kind of seems like the sort of person who’d like cleaning, since she seems like she wants to have control over her surroundings.

Then she gives Chloe some blank paper so that she can send a letter from the ghost, because Tori is the best character.

Andrew chats a bit about the backstory and shows them pictures of the people who used to own the house. He’s the guy who started the whole evil mad science thing. She recognizes demonghost boy from the picture, and Andrew says it’s the guy’s nephew, the older one. The younger one is blond, the same as the dead boy she saw on the bed. She asks what happens to them and he just knows they went to go live with a relative. She thinks they weren’t part of the project because the demonghost boy seems like he’s even older than Derek and Derek was one of the first.

She sees Tori and Simon next to each other and suddenly thinks they kind of look similar before deciding it was just an illusion, so I guess they do share a dad.

Then she and Simon go on their date and she asks about if he can do a binding spell like Tori.

“There are two major spell-casting races. Sorcerers are male and have sons, all of them sorcerers. Witches are female—same deal, but with daughters. Sorcerer magic uses hand gestures along with incantations, mostly in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. And, no, I don’t speak Greek, Latin, or Hebrew—I can just recite the spells. Knowing the languages would help, but memorizing spells is tough enough right now. Sorcerer magic is offensive—used to attack. Witches use the same languages for incantations, but they get to skip the hand gestures. Their magic is defensive.”

Why is magic somehow connected to human languages? BECAUSE. Also, have you ever noticed that it’s never the guys who have defensive magic? At most, women will sometimes get magic that’s only evil and guys will get defensive capacity as part of their general useful spellpack.

Apparently, they can learn each other’s spells, but it doesn’t work too great. Since he’s struggling with his in-sex type, he has no chance mastering a witch spell for quite a while.

They kiss, but it just doesn’t feel instantly perfect because it’s not true love, and Simon can tell there must be someone else. And by someone else, he means Derek. And Chloe can’t argue because omg it’s true! And then he’s all sad and upset and Chloe feels like shit.

Then Derek finds her upset and she tells him Simon’s hurt because he thinks she likes Derek and she tells Derek that’s not it at all and he yells at her that Simon really cares about her and she’s the first girl he has and she shouldn’t hurt him, continuing our theme of it all being the girl’s fault. Then she goes in and he goes to get Simon.

She goes to see Tori, who can tell things are wrong and asks if Simon tried to molest her or anything, the only character so far who’s shown actual concern about the female side of dating. Thank you, Tori. She then also says that freezing up for a first kiss is fine and so on.

Chloe can’t take not being told she’s a piece of shit who deserves all the blame for her romance, so she decides to sleep in the other room and leave Tori all alone, although at least she thanks Tori for what she said.


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