The Reckoning, Part 2

Well, time for more of the book where nothing happens except stupid nonsense.

Derek shows up because he’s changing, in pain and scared and he wants her with him. Chloe is an asshole and tries to brush him off then refuses because he yelled at her. It’s like she can only stand up for herself in the few instances she shouldn’t. He begs her and she eventually agrees to stay with him.

He keeps trying to make up with her and Chloe is trying to tell him that doesn’t make it okay. The conversation just is all over the place – she’s basically doing anti-abuse rhetoric, which would be great except it’s mismatched. Derek blows up verbally because he’s scared and concerned for everyone. He does need to stop doing this, but the issue isn’t that he thinks it’s okay and needs to learn it isn’t, it’s that he needs to get a handle on his temper – he’s always feeling regretful afterward.

Anyway, he manages to turn into a wolf successfully this time, after a bit. The transformation sequences really seem like some sort of cross between a really bad period and pregnancy. I wonder why there aren’t more female werewolves in fiction, given the parallels?

He’s still the same guy, but now he can’t talk. He’s all worn out and they fall asleep. Then they wake up and he starts trying to move, falling over in the process. He gets the hang of things quick enough, then he smells something and rushes her back into the house. Also, they hear someone whistle.

It turns out it’s the werewolf brothers from last book, because I guess they had nothing better to do then follow the kids. One’s in human form, the other’s a wolf.

They sort of get away, but then Derek suddenly changes back. Eventually, Chloe defends herself by summoning dead animals, which mostly just freaks the werewolf out but it works long enough for Derek to reappear and snap the guy’s neck. Also, apparently they were working for evil mad scientist, who’s okay with Chloe dying as well if it gets rid of Derek.

Dead guy’s ghost appears and isn’t very helpful, although Chloe does manage to intimidate him a bit by threatening to send him into his dead body. Mostly, he just warns Derek that it’s bad news to mix with other races types of supernaturals. Then suddenly he vanishes as if something pulled him away. Will that every be explained? Hell if I know.

His brother appears and actually seems pretty reasonable suddenly, explaining that he’ll leave them alone since it was the other guy’s plan anyway and they kicked his ass pretty bad. Also, he repeats the warning about mixing.

Ramon shook his head. “You know much about wolves, boy?”
“A bit.”
“There’s a reason they live as far from humans as they can. Centuries of experience. People don’t like other predators around. Makes them nervous. When they get nervous, they try to eliminate the threat.

Yeah, that’s why we keep dogs and cats around. Our deep-seated hatred of predators. And dolphins? We all know how much humans instinctively hate them.

Checking the cellphone, they learn it isn’t evil mad scientist and friends but the shaman guy with the new group, the one who doesn’t believe them. They tell Andrew, who gets upset and calls up everyone. He only gets Margret the wimp necromancer.

Meanwhile, Simon and Chloe apologize to each other. It’s perhaps the first decent depiction of a relationship the book’s had. Chloe’s sorry she couldn’t be what he wanted, Simon’s sorry because that’s not her fault and he shouldn’t have overreacted.

Also, they’re all sticking around at the house because sure, someone in this group tried to kill them, but the other group might kill them if they leave! The other group has been totally incompetent and doesn’t seem to have any supernatural allies, plus they were only willing to kill Derek rather than Derek and anybody helping him, plus Chloe still has the backup plan of freeing the demon if she does get caught again. So assuming that it’s a matter of picking which group gets them, evil mad scientist’s gang all the way. And that’s buying into the false choice that it’s either one – taking off and running now doesn’t mean they’ll definitely get caught. They should try to get over the border! All references to a supernatural community have, inexplicably, been about the US. For some reason they really respect country boundaries. (The asshole werewolf even referenced how it’s okay to do shit in Mexico because that doesn’t count as far as the US werewolf community cares.)

Anyway, Chloe decides if they’re going to be idiots, they might as well go all the way and summon the dead kid with telekinesis who threatened her. Not to be outdone, Derek says only if they exclude Tori, because why would you want the only kid with decent magic powers around when you’re being attacked by a ghost? Why can’t they all just be dead already.

Chloe decides to take off her necklace and a ghost says no again. Chloe finally figures out it’s her mom. Then decides it can’t be, because. Moron. Ghost mom keeps saying to stop trying to summon her, and after Chloe ignores this and pumps lots of energy into pulling her through, probably summoning god-knows-what inadvertently, Derek finally mentions that it isn’t a ward problem or anything, necromancers can’t summon their relatives. Because. Because is why. Also, Chloe has summoned her and gotten her to manifest, so it’s obviously not an actual rule or anything. Also, she realizes this is who she saw in the fight last book, not her aunt. Whatever.

Her mom then tells her to run and that nowhere’s safe, and also says “no” and some explanation Chloe can’t hear when Chloe says they’re hiding from evil mad scientist after being attacked. Ghosts can talk to each other, so all mom-ghost has to do is tell a different ghost to pass the message on. Chloe could hear her well enough to hear the name of whoever she’s supposed to summon.

Then she disappears and Chloe tries to summon but it doesn’t work, because. And then crazy telekinesis boy is summoned instead.

Royce laughed. “You kids really are idiots. Do you really think this is their only experiment? Yeah, you’re the second wave…of the Genesis project. Then there’s the Icarus project, the Phoenix project…”

This may be the final book of the trilogy, but don’t think that means any of this gets explained. But what’s relevant for the moment is that he was the first attempt at supersupernaturals. He killed his brother and then was killed. He threatens and throws stuff at them for a while until Chloe banishes him again. Then his uncle shows up to yell at them for summoning crazyguy for no reason, because apparently part of being dead is always jumping to stupid conclusions and proceeding from there like they’re fact.

He explains that what they were doing didn’t actually work right in some completely unexplained way and that the data was manipulated, again with no explanation about what the manipulation actually was. I guess we’re supposed to just assume that the fact one kid went crazy proves it was evil genetic engineering and not one kid going crazy with power.

Then he starts to fade as well! Because, just like every other time a ghost has disappeared for no reason, so Chloe tries to summon him back without her necklace and he tells her to invite rather than pull, which is actually tricking her into letting him possess her.

“I won’t hurt you. I’m only going to borrow your body. I need to fix this.

Then a little later he explains that by fix it he means kill everyone and then her, so this is really just the author lying to pad things out. Derek drops the necklace on her and it kicks him out.

So now they’re definitely going to leave. Meanwhile, the adults have decided to attack evil mad scientist at last. Yay?

Chloe goes to find Tori and we discover that she, being the only one with a brain, was actually using her housekeeper duties to get free run of the place and a chance at the adult’s computers. Let us lament again about why Chloe had to be the protagonist.

See, Tori’s been thinking about the fight and how she got away too easily. She thought she must be bugged or something, but she’s done everything she can to find it and there’s no sign, so she figures she must just not have been a high priority target, therefore, uh, spying to prove she’s not a spy? Whatever, as long as it moves the plot.

Tori finds emails about directions to give Derek to the werewolves…

Wait and approach them off the property, preferably in a public setting, and definitely when the children are not present. If possible, approach the Alpha or the woman. Tomas says he cannot stress these things enough. Do not go directly to the house. Do not approach when the children are there.

Because alphas are always guys and also they’re crazy territorial because that’s how animals work! Fuck this book.

Also, the person masterminding this turns out to be Andrew! Dun dun duuuuuuuuuu- oh right all that means is he figured Derek would be better off with the werewolves. Honestly, sounds like all of them would be, it’s the only supernatural power block you know isn’t compromised because all other supernaturals hate their guts and they also seem to be the strongest. But Chloe’s freaking out at it so clearly Andrew also personally thought up Plan B: murder Derek and anyone associated.

And indeed, the email turns out to have been sent when Andrew was supposedly captured by evil mad scientist. Christ, book, is everything here the result of crazy amounts of planning? In fact, it turns out that the group that attacked them was really these guys, because…………….fuck it.

This does address how stupid the fight was last book, but it’s like when badfic authors say you have to read the whole thing and can’t criticize it until you do, only if badfic authors demanded you keep doling out money for the privilege. And like badfic authors, the fix just changes the problem to WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU BOTHER? The kids were running scared. They show up at Andrew’s, he says “oh no to the safehouse!!!”, they go, done. Even if we ignore the fact that Tori can shoot deathbolts by accident, we know they’re all terrified of werewolves, so why would you make a plan that centered around fake-attacking a werewolf? And while they couldn’t have predicted Chloe going all DEATH FROM ABOVE! it shows that people who think they’re fighting for their lives can hurt you.

Derek is brought in on this and attempts to explain it by saying that a second attack would keep them where they are. Because things were going so great before then, you know, with the sleeping in alleys and fights with street kids and accidentally a zombie.

Next, Chloe asks Andrew about the script he wants her to read and he tells her to go have fun with his laptop, the moron. I don’t know why they’re bothering to confirm what they already know, but it’s all an excuse to find out that also, Simon and Derek’s dad is fine and in contact with Andrew, who’s been lying about not knowing where the kids are.

The email namedrops that he got grabbed by Nasts who are a cabal of sorcerers like the other cabal and we still don’t fucking know what those are beyond “a corporation” and that they kidnap people for reasons. I don’t know what pisses me off more, the shittiness of the worldbuilding or the way the author clearly thinks it’s fine to write a series that’s basically just a teaser for all her other stuff.

Time to take off. Tori again shows why she’s better than the rest by telling Andrew they’re planning to escape…for icecream! But no, they can’t go out yet. So back to their plan of just breaking out.

Simon calls their dad and tells them their location but not important stuff like that they’re about to escape so that if he rushes in he’ll end up missing them and probably getting captured, because Simon is stupid, unlike Tori. Tori needs to be in charge of everything, as she demonstrates by being the only one to think to grab Chloe a coke to help her wake up for their two am escape attempt. Then they discover Derek’s drugged and it’s coke to the rescue again!

They go down to find the door magically locked and Andrew waiting for them.

“If Kit takes you kids, then you’re safe. If you’re safe, then my people have no motivation to disband the Edison Group. I’ve been trying to convince them to do this for years, and now they’re ready to act, but only if there’s an immediate threat.

Holy shit every time you think it can’t get stupider.

He warns them that there’s people guarding all the escape routes. The kids take him out. They consider their options and Chloe decides to go out, because she’s the least scary and she figures she won’t get hurt. The kid who accidentally a graveyard is totally not seen as a horrific abomination at all, really. And for some reason crazy telekinesis ghost appears again to be one-note threatening and suggest necromancers all go crazy. Chloe is getting worse at banishing every time, so now all she can do is make him flicker out for a second. Then Liz appears, even though she couldn’t be summoned before. Because.

Then all the kids appear.

“Did someone say Liz is here?” Tori stumbled out of the forest.
When I pointed at Liz, Tori smiled the brightest smile I’d seen from her since…well, I don’t know when.

What’s really sad is that Liz doesn’t seem to have cared at all about Tori, never asking if she’s okay or anything, and naturally Chloe never considered that Tori might miss her.

Derek and Chloe argue about who’s putting themselves at unnecessary risk for the sake of the group. They need to just kiss already, it’s getting pretty tired. Anyway, they decide to go back. Then they don’t use Liz for scouting because they figure any magical tripwire won’t be triggered by a ghost. Because that’s totally a reason not to send her ahead to figure out where the people actually are

Chloe and Derek get a moment alone and do kiss. It’s very boring and then they’re interrupted. Maybe we can move on now. Their new plan is to let Andrew go and say they’re going along with the group, because he’ll totally fall for it. Then they decide to have Derek hide. They’ll say he ran off, figuring he’s the one the adults are really concerned with.

Margaret appears, and then Gwen. She’s being very casual. The kids agree that she’s lying about just being too busy to respond to the calls. The kids spread out trying to act casual, and Margaret starts asking after Chloe and tells Gwen to help her look. Gwen finds Chloe but she’s acting weird. Turns out she’s a ghost! A second ago, Margaret killed her somehow. Gwen’s taking her death rather well, I think. She explains she knew something was bad and considered taking off, but then she came back hoping to warn Andrew.

Then Andrew appears and gestures for her to hide and disappears so I guess he’s a ghost too? Yup, she gets knocked out and rolls into the puddle of blood from his corpse.

The kids are delivered back to evil mad scientist, making the whole back and forth plot of this book a complete waste of time. If the book was halfway good at actually establishing the politics it clearly cares so much about, this might be interesting, but it’s just a series of “and then we found out that the person is working for X” so there’s really no context.

Chloe’s aunt is there and evil mad scientist claims she just made a mistake. Rae isn’t there because she’s off at a special boarding school being special and totally not dead. Rae has been boring enough I don’t really care which it is.

Tori says she knows the kids are dead, evil mad scientist denies is, she demands a conference call with all those totally not dead kids. She threatens them, shooting sparks, because Tori’s awesome, so her mom murders a guard. When Chloe says it wasn’t Tori but evil mom, she gets magically/telekinetically slapped and evil mom says that’s Tori too. I’m not sure why they’re keeping this farce going.

So Chloe ends up by herself in a room, moaning about how Rae’s dead even though they had no reason to hurt Rae. Even if she’d wanted to go on a rampage, her own powerset was shit.

Finally, it’s time for the only other decent character, the demi-demon! Fuck yes. The demon seems really friendly, agreeing to all of Chloe’s vague demands about not doing this, protecting these people, etc etc.

I’d seen enough demonic-pact-gone-wrong horror movies to know I needed an iron-clad agreement.

Every other time in the book, it’s Chloe thinking about how life isn’t like a movie, but here, demons totally work like Hollywood. BECAUSE.

The demon, being so so great, actually knows what to do. First, Chloe summons the dead guard, stuffs him into his corpse and orders resulting zombie to come to her room. Chloe then whines about how he had a wife and maybe kids and a life and the poor guy! He works for people who murder kids in the name of science. That’s basically nazi, okay? Shut up and move on. She pulls the soul out again and sticks the demon is. The demon continues to be friendly and helpful, even as Chloe makes sure to play keepaway with the gun and otherwise act like a dick. Friendly demon even reassures her about the ghost summoning she did, then goes on to nonlethally take out one of the other guards without even needing to be asked. How much more awesome would these books have been if it’d been about Chloe summoning various ghosts and demons to do things? And then friendly demon explains that her aunt really is still on her side. I didn’t even realize that was a question, but I forgot Chloe’s a fucking moron.

Tori and the demon meet up! And Tori points out they can’t just go, they need to get the files so they’ll know who the other kids in danger are, because Tori is better than everyone else. Also, the demon confides to Chloe that Tori and Simon really are siblings, but also it’s important that her slutty slut mom totally failed to seduce the dad because she’s not actually that great and had to use artificial insemination, because the book never misses a chance to be skeevy about women and sex.

The alarm goes off and the demon drops the body to go check to make sure everyone’s safe. I can’t emphasize enough that Chloe is totally not thinking to ask the demon to do any of this. Friendly demon is really damn friendly.

The demon explains that with people alerted, it can get her and her aunt out, but the rest of the gang went in the opposite direction, so it can’t get both of them out. The only other option is to free it, which will fuck up the whole place. Chloe continues to be suspicious of friendly demon, the most helpful character ever. Maybe that’s why she’s so suspicious. But she does, and the whole place starts shuddering and collapsing. Friendly demon CONTINUES TO HELP, acting concerned for Chloe and shouting at her to hurry. Also, there’s gusts of hot air and invisible things and voices, because she accidentally a hole to hell. Friendly demon shooes them off and reassures Chloe they’re not a danger. I love you, friendly demon.

Then something big happens, the demon starts shouting that Chloe needs to send it back to the corpse, and the lights go out, leaving Chloe alone with the sound of things moving. The corpse jumps her, ignoring her commands, and she kicks it off.

With a click, the lights came on, and I saw the guard crouched on all fours, arms and legs bent…wrong, bent where arms and legs shouldn’t bend. It looked like some kind of monstrous insect, limbs broken and twisted, bones sticking through fabric. Its head was down and it kept making those wet rasping noises.
I stepped to the side and saw what it was doing—licking my blood from the floor. I backed up fast, and it turned its head—completely turned it, the flesh on its neck ripped through, the head swiveling freely. It curled its bloodied lips back, bared its teeth, and hissed. Then it skittered toward me, those broken and twisted limbs moving so fast they seemed to skim the floor, body held only inches above it.

Yes. Excellent.

The demon rushes back to tell Chloe that she just needs to dismiss it and the rest of them are gone, helpfully distracting it from Chloe so she has time to focus. Then there’s a big blast of hot air and the demon tells her she’s got to hurry out. Then the corpse gets possessed again! This time it’s by the demon’s master, who’s yelling about why hasn’t he been able to summon her all this time, dammit?

“She’s a necromancer.” He stepped toward me. “That glow…”
“Isn’t it pretty? There’s such charming variation among these mortal supernaturals. Even the weakest among them gets something, like that lovely glow.”
“A necromancer’s glow is indicative of her power.”
“Quite right, and it’s a good thing, too, because being such a weak necromancer, she needs a very strong glow to attract any ghosts.”

Look at how helpful friendly demon is. Look. I hope Chloe’s sorry for being such a jerk this whole time. Friendly demon continues to try to beg off to help out Chloe, but the other demon says it’s not falling for it because friendly demon has a tendency to disappear, so they both go (after a moment of being creepy at Chloe over how he wants her to grow up strong) and Chloe’s left by herself. Also, apparently necromancers can summon demons normally! Why the fuck have we been wasting this trilogy on stupid ghosts then?

She finds her aunt and then bullshits about how the guard was just an accidental zombie, because lying is fun I guess. They’re jumped by Tori’s evil mom freezing Chloe’s aunt, who’s then knocked out and totally not murdered by wolf Derek, because that’s what happens when you smash someone’s head into the wall.

They run across a room with four desks and a blackboard, which is apparently where baby Derek lived, except there were supposed to be five werewolves. There doesn’t seem to be any point to this scene beyond that apparently they have so many rooms they just leave stuff set up for a decade, and they quickly move on. Then they overhear new people from the cabal that the group is affiliated with discussing how the cabal only needs two alive and to definitely kill the werewolf, and for god’s safe it’s the end of the book can we stop doing the same damn plot over and over? There’s some stupid chat among the group about how Derek got there (nothing interesting) and how Rae isn’t dead, her mom busted her out.

Tori’s mom had joined the SWAT team in the next room. Apparently, Derek hadn’t hurt her as much as I might have hoped. She was nursing a killer headache…and a killer grudge. Derek was to be shot on sight—shot dead, not tranquilized.

See, when the woman does that, it’s because she’s evil and holding grudges and also she’s totally the only reason it’s happening, even though everyone else has been pushing for Derek to be killed for all three books too and the people there just said they were going to kill him on the cabal’s orders.

Then Derek starts to change back, because plot demands it…and it doesn’t really matter beyond that now he’s a guy and not a dog. Then Chloe’s aunt pauses everything for a private talk with the guy about how he should stay away from her niece but Derek and Chloe don’t care because I totally care about their bullshit relationship issues WHY WON’T THIS BOOK END? Then Tori’s evil mom appears again to freeze Chloe’s aunt again, but this time instead of Derek it’s Derek’s dad that jumps in to stop her.

He tsk-tsked. “Is that really the impression you want to make, Diane? Prove to everyone here that a witch needs a gun to fight a sorcerer?”

And it works because she’s stupid and female. Magic fight, go! Also, confirmation that magic is shit compared to guns, because why would I be reading a fantasy book if not to hear about how it’s stupid? Then the roof falls on them. Sadly they don’t die. The bad guys do die, except for evil mad scientist. Then there’s yet another standoff. While the adults argue, Chloe stuffs Tori’s mom back into her corpse and uses the zombie to shoot evil mad scientist.

The book still isn’t fucking over. There’s another chapter about how they’re on the run and talking about stuff and how they’ll have to all stay together, which is fine with Chloe because it’s more time to kiss Derek.

And that’s it. If anything, it’s more of a nonending than last book, where you could assume that they find a safehouse and then they’re okay because they got word out to the rest of the supernatural community. God, what terrible writing.

Still don’t know how the afterlife works, what limbo is, why it’s a bad idea to dismiss ghosts when they seem to be able to just pop back fine, what demons are, how demons work, what the group is actually trying to do, what was wrong with the data, how supernatural groups work, if werewolves are normally dangerous or not, if necromancers actually go crazy, why it’s so important they stay hidden…

7 Comments

  1. actonthat says:
    This author is like some kind of evil genius. In reference to her followup series to this, “Darkness Rising”: “According to the author, Kelley Armstrong, she plans to bring the original group into the picture, but it will not be any time soon.”

    So basically the reason this trilogy doesn’t end is because you have to buy at least the first two books of the next one to see the ending.

    1. Farla says:
      A shameless one. I remember I bought a bunch of shared universe urban fantasy books and they were all clearly labeled as being part of a series despite each having its own cast, fully explaining everything about whatever supernatural creature featured the book, and only having other book characters appear as cameos.

      Here, she’s writing a bunch of books that likely only make sense read in order (assuming they ever do) and calling them individual books and trilogies to sucker new readers.

      1. Jenks says:
        Were those books the Night World series, by any chance? Super flawed and full of insta-love but the series had its good parts and a few decent characters. Also, loads better than this drivel.
        1. Farla says:
          Yup. Sadly, the stuff that’s stuck in my mind was the very most ridiculous stuff, like where vampire fangs were used as a penis stand-in.
  2. piehole says:
    I’m sorry you read this, for your sake, but I’m glad for mine, because your reviews are fucking hilarious.
    1. Farla says:
      I still don’t understand how the book made necromancy boring.
  3. rotring says:
    Holy fucking shit. I just read through all these Darkest Powers recaps, and yeah, I realised these books were a cheap pointless cashgrab, but I still thought there would be an ending. Or something. “On the run” isn’t an ending, they were already on the run before because bad guys, and now they’re on the run because.

    It doesn’t even seem like fun-to-read shitfest at this point. Hats off for finishing these books, you literary masochist.

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