Wither, Ch7

Last time on how much worse can this get, we find out they’re going to dissect Rose’s body and apparently that’s horrible because everyone in this has no sense of perspective.


Gabriel explains Linden’s dad must think he can learn about make the “antidote” from her corpse. What’s obviously actually going on is that, like any good researcher, he wants to see what the various medications did and what shape her internal organs are in. What if fantasy tuberculosis isn’t even a normal symptom? Maybe what happened is they were treating the normal first-stage parts of the disease but not ones that take longer to appear because people usually die before they’re apparent.

“But,” I croak. “That’s Rose.”
“I know.”
“Linden would never allow this.”

First, no, it’s not Rose. It’s Rose’s corpse.

Second, why the fuck wouldn’t Linden allow it? Again, it’s just her corpse.

Third, why the fuck is this book setting up a situation where obviously a good person wouldn’t do this! and then having her assume that this means her future rapist is in that group?

Gabriel agrees with her about this, because I guess he’s got a crush on Linden’s pretty eyes and fragile bone structure too, since god knows there’s no reason to like him short of getting concussed by hormones. But he says they can’t tell because they’re not supposed to be here.

Except the elevators are designed to go here in the event of an emergency. There’s absolutely nothing suspicious about being there. Even if Linden’s dad might be irrationally mad about this, and I doubt it because we’re told he’s the one in charge of things like making the elevators go to the basement if there’s a power issue, it doesn’t matter because he’ll be busy with Linden being mad.

Now, if the issue is that they can’t tell because getting between your two owners in a vicious fight isn’t safe for the help, that would make sense.

Anyway, instead they keep going and find that other elevator Gabriel mentioned, and somehow that one works. For my sanity I’m going to assume the elevators both came back online in the time it took them to wander around the basement.

“Hey, blondie’s here!” someone calls. It’s becoming the kitchen’s official nickname for me.

I am oddly touchy on names.

I have very little investment in my own name. If you pronounce it wrong, or give me a nickname, or mistake it for a completely different name with no letters in common, I don’t really care. But I also recognize that names are an expression of power as well as a look into someone else’s viewpoint.

Their nickname for her here is reducing her to the characteristic she and Rose shared, as well as bringing to mind the stereotypes of dumb, gold-digging blondes. It’s putting a cute gloss over what happened. Why don’t they want to use her real name? Do they not want to know? Does it make it easier to not think of her as a person, or of why she’s really there?

I don’t ask anything of them, which Gabriel says is more than Linden’s last wife and the little one (the brat, they call her) could manage.

Yes, how dare they ask anything of the servants hired to do things. Only the men get to do that! Just because the girls are physically trapped on that floor and incapable of getting anything for themselves! How dare that thirteen year old kidnapping victim ask for sugar with her tea! She should be grateful they’re even feeding her.

They want to know why she’s all red and blotchy. She instantly lies and says she’s allergic to shellfish.

“The stink traveled all the way up to the wives’ floor, made my eyes all puffy. Are you trying to kill me or what?”
“She insisted on coming down here to tell you herself,” Gabriel says obligingly.

“We’ve got bigger problems than your diet needs,” the head cook says

So it’s really just that Rhine is so special no one cares when she asks things of them. Also, they don’t give a fuck about a potentially serious allergy.

The “bigger problems” refers to the storm, despite the fact the rest of the conversation is about how the storms actually are a really minor thing and they usually just keep working the whole time. They start discussing if they’ll get a “good” storm, like maybe all the way to a category 3.

Category 3 storms are pretty nasty. See, it doesn’t matter how well you build houses. Trees are still just trees. Bushes are still just bushes. Storms tear up gardens. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, you can’t change that.

Furthermore, category 3 is within normal hurricane range. Global warming intensifies them. And even if the author doesn’t believe in “manmade” global warming, let me lay this out:

Ice caps reflect more sunlight than ocean. The planet without ice caps is going to be significantly warmer.
Continents reflect more sunlight than ocean. The planet without continents is going to be significantly warmer.

In this world, both these things are true. The world is almost completely covered in oceans. Temperatures should have skyrocketed, and the storms should correspondingly be monsters.

Now, it’s true that storms are effected by ocean currents, and those are going to be totally screwed up by blowing up all the continents. But in general, those continents serve to block and redirect currents, plus they give storms somewhere else to hit and use up their energy. We have very little information on what happened, but it’s more likely storms would be worsened by the change.

In conclusion, storms are going to be nasty, nasty things. There’s no way her pretty orange blossom view will survive.

Anyway, she doesn’t know the terms and asks what it means.

“Means you three princesses will be locked in the dungeon,” the head cook hisses, and I’m just about to believe her when she claps a hand on my shoulder hard and laughs. “The House Governor takes every precaution with his wives,” she says. “If the winds get bad, you’ll all have to wait out the
storm in the storm shelter. Don’t worry, blondie, I bet it’s comfy cozy, and the rest of us’ll be up here cooking and bringing you your meals.”

Ignoring, of course, that they are in fact locked in the dungeon, or how they’re “princesses” by getting special treatment that’s forced on them. This is why I find “blondie” such a very suspect term.

But why let reality get in the way of resenting the people this is being done to, instead of the people who decided on it?

They go back to the wives’ floor. The book doesn’t even bother to say anything about Gabriel or anyone convincing her to do so, because it’s forgotten she has any reason to need convincing.

I think of the sadness in Linden’s eyes; what would he say if he knew his childhood love, the little girl who fed sugar to horses in the orange grove, is being dissected in this very house?

Me, I think of the other girls Linden murdered. What would they say if they knew all you could think of was how sad their murderer and your future rapist was?

It should be pointed out that Linden didn’t give any more of a fuck about Rose having any control over her body than his father. She was forced to take medications to keep her alive. If he objects to her being dissected, it would be because he didn’t want it to happen, not out of respect for any wishes Rose had.

I don’t touch my lunch.

She’s been doing this a lot, it’s just hard to notice because she just mentions it offhand.

Now, unlike in the Hunger Games, Rhine probably never went hungry. But she lived in a world where she could never escape the fact that other people were starving and those sort of reminders usually stick with you.

As with, well, just about everything, this could be handled right if it was intentional – part of how she’s changing by her new surroundings. But there’s no sign of that, and I doubt she’s going to realize she’s doing it because I doubt it occurred to the author there was anything to mention in the first place.

Instead of eating she takes a nice bath and then checks out the handkerchief, deciding to investigate what flower species are embroidered on it. Apparently Rhine doesn’t understand the concept of making shit up. Odd, given what a natural liar she is. She ends up frustrated because she can’t find a picture that matches exactly.

So she asks Gabriel, presumably when he shows back up on his own, and he just says he got it out of the bin that has them. He doesn’t know anything else. Gabriel is not a curious person.

In the days to come, Gabriel begins bringing breakfast while the other wives are still asleep. He hides June Beans in rolled napkins or under the plate or, once, between the pancakes. He arranges the strawberry slices into Eiffel Towers and boats with spear-shaped masts.

This is legitimately nice of Gabriel, though it’s probably just because he wants to fuck her. Also, Rhine continues to not get she could just ask for the damn candies.

Sometimes he comes in when she’s asleep and she senses his warm presence and it makes her feel safe. This kind of bullshit is why you don’t let teenage boys into your harem!

If she’s awake, they talk softly. He says he’s an orphan.

Housemaster Vaughn bought him at an auction when he was nine.

Okay, so first, is he actually owned? Do we have slavery again?

SECOND IF YOU CAN BUY PEOPLE WHY THE FUCK DON’T YOU JUST BUY WIVES INSTEAD OF KIDNAPPING THEM OFF THE STREET YOU FUCKING MORONIC FUCKERS ARE YOU JUST GETTING OFF ON TERRORIZING THE POPULATION WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU

“In orphanages they teach you skills like cooking, sewing, cleaning.

So apparently the orphanages do nothing but train kids to be servants, because we all know there are infinite servant jobs, and double infinite jobs when the economy is collapsing.

Gabriel explains that none of the servants leave.

The only ones to leave are the delivery truck drivers

Okay, there’s your way out!

Housemaster Vaughn, and sometimes Linden if he has a mind to.

See? Will you finally stop going on as if Linden is just as much a prisoner as you now?

No? No comment on how this disproves your delusional nonsense? Fine.

Gabriel goes on to explain Linden isn’t much for socializing.

But I haven’t lost hope.

She doesn’t mean that it’s fine Linden isn’t social, she can still try to escape on a truck. She means if he likes her she’ll be able to get him to go to parties and take her. In fact, there’s no sense from the book that escaping by truck is even possible, let alone something she’s thought of. The focus is entirely on ways to escape that involve cozying up to the sexy but mysterious woobie.

She asks if Gabriel misses anything, and he says the beach. I don’t get why they can’t give the servants any vacation time. If nothing else wouldn’t it make them less resentful? And maybe he’d get a girlfriend instead of going after Linden’s own collection.

But anyway, so she talks about how she learned to fish which they did just for fun. Fishing just for fun is a dick move. They’re still capable of feeling pain, assholes.

The edible catches are farther out, and then they’re hauled in by boat. The closer you get to land, the more contaminated the water.

Huh, there goes my theory the reason the fish are contaminated is the fallout from exploding the world. Unless they’ve deregulated everything, the coastal water shouldn’t be that terrible (though I’ll grant it’s possible they did deregulate) and when it comes to eating them, the issue isn’t the water they’re in that exact second, it’s the toxins they’ve absorbed over their lifetime. So unless the farther out fish never come near the coast, or eat the coastal fish, or anything, they’re going to be just as toxic.

On top of that, most worries about contaminated meat are long term ones. If fish are full of mercury, that’s going to mess with how long you live…unless you get fantasy tuberculosis at twenty/five, in which case you’ll probably die long before it matters.

remembering the cold slimy scales and bloodshot eyes

I actually don’t much like the slimy description. It’s a cliche and it seems like one of those not very accurate ones. Fish right out of the water don’t feel slimy, they feel wet. And kind of rough, from the scales.

Also, fish can’t have bloodshot eyes. They don’t have the exposed white part, their eyes are all iris and pupil. And I’ve seen a lot of eye injuries in fish, and none of them ever involved red veins through the iris. And even if the contaminated water just somehow happens to do exactly that, I disagree “bloodshot” would be the description someone leaped to because it’s not going to look much of anything like the red on white in human eyes.

Anyway, back to this being very horrible. She says this makes her homesick, but it’s not that bad because:

Not with Gabriel for company

Good so far…

and a tray of pancakes and the June Bean he’s hidden in the napkin.

Yes, she just said, “It sucks I was kidnapped, but I get pancakes and candy and that makes it okay!”

Linden starts making them eat dinner with him and tells them about the research his dad does. Rhine wonders if the guy’s research is about Rose’s corpse. Probably but no one cares, Rhine. Stop calling her Rose. Rose is dead. This is just a pile of flesh.

Cecily is, as always, very interested in everything our husband says.

So she’s gone back on her rant about how no one but her understands precious Linden-chan’s talk. Also, she thinks of the guy as her husband. Ugh.

I’m getting better at acting interested

As you have made abundantly clear, you actually are interested. This isn’t even a bad thing, but trying to pretend you’re just playing along when you obviously aren’t is really annoying.

One day, he announces that they’ll celebrate their two months of marriage and the girls can pick which garden to have the party. So she’s been there, what, maybe three months? At least. I’m assuming Rose took a while to die. And in that time all she’s done is go down the elevator a few times. I understand that real people can sometimes be paralyzed and not act but she’s supposed to be a heroine here.

So Rhine instantly says she wants it in the orange grove because that way it’ll remind Linden of Rose the whole time, since she loved them so much.

And it was there that Linden found her a week after her twentieth birthday, unconscious and pale in the shade of an orange tree, gasping, her lips blue.

All the pills and potions in the world couldn’t buy more than a few fleeting months.

Wow. You know, people were mentioning how the sudden death at the same age thing didn’t make sense and I was defending it a bit on the assumption that I figured it was just a general age range, and no, you guys saying it’s immediate, as well as that you bet it somehow hits right at their birthdays instead of the twenty/five thing being a general description were right.

This is such a convenient virus that knows we measure time based on birthdate and works with us to hit right around then.

Also, I can’t help but find Rhine incredibly inconsistent. She won’t make any attempt to escape for fear it’ll tip off her captors that she wants to escape, but she sees nothing wrong with risking leaving the wives’ floor all the time even though that’s the same risk without even moving her closer to her goal. And she’s insisting her plan is to play nice with Linden so he’ll take her out, and yet her first actual action is to pick the garden based on what will upset him most.

Linden tries to encourage them toward the pool or something.

“But you said we could pick,” says Jenna; it is perhaps the first time she’s ever said a word to him.

Jenna, though, Jenna makes sense. She has no delusional plan about making him love her as the only chance of escape. She just wants him to suffer.

Back in her room, she thinks about the ocean back home and how she wanted to have her ashes cast into the ocean so she can see the rest of the world.

I want to sink to the ruins of Athens and be carried off to Nigeria, and to swim between fish and sunken ships. I’ll come back to Manhattan frequently, to smell the air, to see how my twin is doing.

This is a nice fantasy and it seems really out of place here, just because the book seems to treat Rhine as a reader stand-in so often. There’s very little sense she has actual psychological depth. This fantasy to me seems morbid, the product of a world where most of it’s gone and you’re raised with the knowledge you don’t have long and will never see most of what’s left. And where you know you’ll be leaving someone behind – in Rhine’s case, it’s her brother, but the same is also true about so many of the parents in this world.

She thinks now that she’s scared her body will just end up in the basement – which, yes, sucks her funeral wishes won’t be carried out but come on, that’s really minor compared to the rest – and that her brother won’t know what happened to her. It continues not to occur to her that maybe she could just ask for someone to tell her brother she’s still alive.

For that, I am not sorry that Linden Ashby is off somewhere being sad

The rape and murder things though, totally fine. It’s just the kidnapping and the dad probably going to mess with her corpse she has an issue with.

She sits and thinks about how she’s never been away from her brother so long and then Jenna shows up. She wants to know what was going on with the orange grove.

“Rose told me,” I say, and I stop myself from adding that Rose told me all sorts of things about our husband. I want to keep some of his frailties to myself, such as the infection that nearly killed him as a boy and that caused him to lose several teeth, hence the gold ones. These things make him seem less menacing somehow. Like someone I can overpower or outsmart when the time is right.

There is no explanation given for why she wants to. The way the paragraph is structured there’s apparently some link to keeping these things secret and these things making him less scary, but that doesn’t actually make sense.

Rhine says “He had no right to bring us here, and I guess he’ll never realize that. So I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me.” Because it’s the prisoner thing that’s her issue. Not the fact he’s going to rape them. That part’s fine, since he’s their husband and that means it isn’t rape!

While Rhine’s feeling pleased with herself, Jenna starts crying and says her sisters were in the same van.

I didn’t know what it was, but I saw that it was hurting him,” she sobs, swipes her nose with her fist. “And I wanted him to hurt, so I agreed with you. He has no idea, does he? What he’s taken away?”

Rhine says no, but as we’ve established – she doesn’t really know either. Even this book doesn’t – it’s bringing up Jenna for pathos, but it never seems particularly interested.

Jenna says she’s going to be dead in two years and she doesn’t care about anything with her sisters dead.

I’m trapped here, but I won’t let him have his way with me. I don’t care if he murders me, he won’t have me.”

This might make sense until we get to context.

See, in the context of this book, we’re repeatedly told the only issue the wives have is the manner in which they were stolen. There’s no concept she would refuse to have sex with him because she doesn’t want to have sex with him. The only reason to refuse sex is if he’s done something else and you’re mad about it. It’s the only reason women ever refuse sex, which is why it’s okay to force them to have sex with you if you disagree that they’re right to be mad.

Rhine doesn’t really get it, despite how she says she does, because she asks if Jenna would escape despite Jenna just saying there’s nothing out there for her any longer. So Jenna repeats this and maybe it sinks in, though with Rhine who can tell.

Jenna then asks if it’s true about the sleeping with Linden thing:

“Did you really spend the night with him?” she asks. But her tone isn’t invasive like Cecily’s. She’s not being crass; she just wants to know.

And so talking about sex continues to be a bigger deal than being raped. Also, way to be an asshole, Rhine. Cecily is a thirteen year old girl. She’s not being crass, she’s desperate to know what’s going to happen to her too.

Anyway, Rhine says no, Linden didn’t actually have sex with her.

“I am really sorry,” I say. “He’s an awful man

She carefully edits out the part where she invited him into her bed because she felt so bad about his sad eyes. I suspect Jenna would be less sympathetic over that.

and this is an awful place. The only one who likes it here is Cecily.”
“She’ll learn,” Jenna says. “She reads all those pregnancy books and Kama Sutra stuff, but she has no idea what he will do to her.”

Jenna continues to be the only one who actually gets it, while everyone else is busy hating Cecily or judging her viciously for being interested in sex and Linden.

Jenna leaves and Rhine has a long nightmare that ends with her getting dissected

She thrashes around so much in her sleep that Gabriel wakes her. She tells him she dreamed of the basement.

“It was an awful thing to see,” Gabriel agrees.
“But you’ve seen worse,” I say.

Looks like we’re in for another OMG GABRIEL U R JUST LIEK MEEEE (BUT EVEN MORE SAD AND SUFFERING)

His “worse” turns out to be that Rose had a stillborn kid (umbilical cord strangulation) and The House Governor and Lady Rose scattered its ashes in the orange grove, but I wonder about those ashes, if they were really the baby.

How exactly is seeing that something horrible? This isn’t even an issue of being trivial, it flat out doesn’t make any sense.

When people die here in general, I wonder what happens to them. I’ve never seen any kind of graveyard; it’s either ashes or they just disappear.”

Because clearly it can’t be just that the graveyard is somewhere off the estate. No, it must be sinister.

Anyway, on to the party. The people at the party are first gen friends of Linden’s dad, because he doesn’t have friends. Also, it turns out he’s employed…to design houses. No one needs new houses.

My sister wives and I start the night as wallflowers, which is what our domestics have coached us to do.

Why they obey such coaching is unclear.

We hold hands with one another, share a cup of punch, look pretty and wait to be introduced. One at a time the strangers, first generations, steal us for dances. They put their hands on our hips and shoulders, getting too close, forcing us to smell their crisp suits and aftershave. I find myself looking forward to the moment when they’ll release me, when I can catch my breath beneath the oranges.

The word “no” continues not to exist.

Jenna is a great dancer.

She smiles at our husband as she moves, and he blushes, overcome by her beauty. But I know what her smile really means. I know why she’s enjoying this night. It’s because his dead wife still lingers here, and he’s in agony, and she wants him to know that his pain will never go away.

That’s a pathetic revenge. She’s distracting him from that by dancing and smiling. It’d be one thing if she was dancing because she actually wanted to more than she cared about him, but it’s stupid to do it because she wants to hurt him since it obviously does no such thing.

Jenna says they’ll get off easy tonight.” because of Cecily. “She’s captured his heart for the moment,” Jenna says. “He hasn’t let her go for a second.”

Oh Jenna. You were so tolerable. And now you’re saying the adult is being seduced by the child. No. She is thirteen. He is making a choice.

All Rhine does is whine that he’s ignoring her and her brilliant “become favorite wife, go to parties, ???, escape” plan is in jeopardy. Not that she actually tries to regain his attention.

The following day Cecily stumbles into the library sometime after noon looking pale and dazed. There’s a hazy smile on her lips that won’t go away, and her hair is a mess.

she cringes whenever she moves her legs.

She doesn’t look right. Not right at all. Her usual verve is subdued, and her voice is gentle like wind chimes. She seems like a wild bird that has been tamed and is surveying its captivity in a daze in which captivity doesn’t seem so bad.

Well. There’s our first rape. It tamed her. She used to be annoying and wild, and now she’s nice and calm. Linden’s magic dick fixes everything. Maybe next he can fuck the depression out of Jenna.

Now that Cecily has finally gotten what she wanted of our husband

SHE IS A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD. THERE IS A REASON IT’S CALLED RAPE WHEN YOU DO THAT.

Anyway, all this means to Jenna and Rhine is that this means Linden isn’t mourning and will probably fuck them all.

At least Rhine and the book admit this is bad, even if they don’t seem to have much of any idea how much so.

Linden is a monster, I think. He’s a vile man. “Can’t you see she’s still a little girl?” I murmur.

Linden is a murderer and I’m sure there were other little girls in that van. This shouldn’t shock you.

Maybe you should have actually made some – any, any at all – effort to keep her away from him. You knew this would happen and you didn’t care.

At least this seems to prompt the revelation that Rhine has been being horrible.

I haven’t been very kind to her, or fair. She can’t help that she’s oblivious, that she’s so young.

For some reason, Rhine adds that she thinks Cecily has no idea that she would have died if she wasn’t picked. There’s no sign of that.

I’m so angry with Linden that I can’t stand the sight of him.

Just now. Just now this occurs to you.

Linden shows up that night. He walks over to the bed and she wonders if he’s waiting for her to invite him in.

If he isn’t going to force himself on us

Rape, Rhine. It’s called rape.

then Cecily is the only one who will ever allow him

She says this casually, as if now that Cecily’s not a virgin there’s no need to worry about preventing her from getting raped more.

He asks if he can come into her bed. She says no.

He looks at me, raises a delicate eyebrow. “No?”
“No,” I affirm. I mean to sound angry, but somehow it doesn’t come out right. There’s tight silence between us, and then I say, “But thank you for asking.”

This is a horrible, horrible book.

Linden doesn’t leave. Instead he asks her to come on a walk with him. And Rhine may be saying she hates him and thinks he’s vile, but she doesn’t see anything wrong with going along with this.

She thinks about true love. Apparently her dad said It’s no science to it. It’s natural as the sky. which is a) totally not what science tells us and b) even if science didn’t know about what caused love, no scientist would say science and nature are opposed and c) do you think science doesn’t know what the sky is.

Love is natural. Even the human race can’t claim to be natural anymore. We are fake, dying things. How fitting that I would end up in this sham of a marriage.

Aside from the continuing stupidity about natural/unnatural, we’re back to her problem with this marriage being comparatively trivial bullshit, like not being in true love as opposed to being kidnapped by a rapist who murdered everyone else.

He brings her to the orange grove.

His eyes are bright green in the moonlight.

Nope, even if the moonlight is particularly bright there’s no way in hell she’d be seeing colors.

He says he doesn’t want her to try to hurt him with the orange grove.

He knows that my party suggestion was malicious, and yet he didn’t raise a hand to me. He didn’t abuse me for my defiance like his father abused Gabriel. Why? Why would a man who stole three girls from their homes show me any kindness?

Rhine continues to have unspeakably low standards.

He offered to take her anywhere if she wants, and Rhine immediately explains she won’t mention going home.

I can’t let him know my dreams of escape, because then he’ll never let me go.

He’ll never let you go anyway, Rhine. Aren’t you paying attention?

Anyway, realizing at last that pissing him off conflicts with her plan to make him love her, she lies and says she thought he’d like the orange grove thing because it’d help him move on from Rose.

And hey. Turns out the word “rape” may never appear, but the word “raped” does. Exactly once, in fact:

his dead wife is being dissected in the basement, her beauty ruined and raped

You know, I think metaphors and analogies are great, as is how words can have multiple meanings. While it’s important not to trivialize things like rape, any line drawn should be a erring on the side of normal usage, and it’s hard to say exactly where that might be.

What isn’t hard to say is that when the only thing you feel should be described with rape is how someone’s body is no longer properly fuckable to her husband-owner in a story revolving around the rape of various girls including thirteen year olds, wherever that line may be you crossed it miles ago.

There is no concern at all for Rose here. Only Linden, murderer, kidnapper, slaver, and now child rapist.

Anyway Rhine hopes the lie will make the rapist feel better.

The rapist says he wanted to bury her.

“but my father didn’t think it was a good idea. He says we don’t know if the virus she had—” His voice catches, and he takes a moment. “If it would affect the soil. So he gave me her ashes.”

I realize this is supposed to be a sign the guy’s lying to him, but it’s so fucking stupid to think the virus would work that way. A lie has to be believable, so this is still failing at science.

He says he scattered the ashes after the party.

After his tryst

Rape.

with Cecily

Rape of. Not sex with. She’s thirteen.

I suppose. Even Cecily’s adoration can’t subdue his heartache. But I don’t say anything. Now is not the time to talk about Cecily.

I’m guessing never will be the time to bring up that he raped a little girl.

Instead we turn, arm in arm, husband and wife, and head back to the sprawling mansion that is covered in ivy.

This sums up everything wrong about the book’s priorities.

Anyway, after this Linden spends most nights in her bed but doesn’t have sex with her so she can keep being a good girl.

I don’t mind his presence so much.

Rhine continues to not be even slightly nervous about the impending rape.

She does mention that Jenna couldn’t handle this and at least it means he’s not fucking Cecily if he’s with her, but it doesn’t seem to occur to her to tell him to stop fucking Cecily.

I know she’s jealous that he’s coming to me now, and I think it’s none of her business, so I answer none of her questions.

And despite her saying this is in part to help her, she sees nothing wrong with getting Cecily upset and encouraging her to try to get the rapist’s attention again.

Anyway, the rapist hangs out a lot with her, which means she doesn’t get to talk to Gabriel any more. But he takes them places, like to the pool where they play in the water.

There are whole days like this. And it’s nice, I think. Like having freedom. Like having sisters.

Our gothic dubcon romance progresses to her realizing that really, there’s nothing wrong being there.

She thinks maybe the rapist is feeling better and considering going back to work or a party, and so he’ll take her. She thinks at least maybe her brother will see her.

After a while of this, she meets Gabriel by chance. He’s sulky.

“Are you mad at me for something?” I ask.
“No. I just didn’t think you had time to speak to an attendant anymore,” he says. I am not liking the darkness in his normally gentle eyes. “Now that you’re the wife of a House Governor.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” I stammer.
“There’s nothing to explain, Lady Rhine,” he says.

See, he thinks she’s had sex, and we all know you’re only allowed to have sex with one person because it makes you disgusting, so he’s mad that now he can’t fuck her.

He’s wrong, so horribly wrong. And I am so offended that I abandon any intentions to correct him. “You didn’t expect me to share a bed with my own husband?” I say.

And we continue with the various pretenses, like the idea the “wives” are anything but kidnapped slaves who have exactly as much power as their owner feels like giving them at the moment.

Then later Cecily collapses and the chapter ends.

17 Comments

  1. Niesse says:
    “The stink traveled all the way up to the wives’ floor, made my eyes all puffy. Are you trying to kill me or what?”“She insisted on coming down here to tell you herself,” Gabriel says obligingly.

    “The smell was enough to give me visible symptoms all the way on another floor! Naturally, I thought it would be a good idea to come right to the source, despite the fact that my secondary love interest was right there to carry a message for me!” They probably just didn’t believe her. Least convincing excuse ever.

    She thinks now that she’s scared her body will just end up in the basement

    She can always be cremated after the autopsy. Like Rose. If she’s happy to be incinerated what diffence does it make if she’s cut up first?

    And oh, Jenna. You could have been this book’s Johanna. You were doing so well.

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    1. Act says:
      I’m still rooting for Jenna. She manages to be sane despite the author’s incompetence: it’s the best kind of character.

      The thing I don’t get is the objection to an autopsy at all. It’s not like they’re gangbanging the corpse; they’re seeing if they can figure out the specifics of what killed her. Does Author not realize every hospital in existence does this? Also, how is cremation suddenly immoral? Sense: this picture makes none.

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      1. Niesse says:
        Also, how is cremation suddenly immoral?

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. Rhine wants to be cremated – she wants her ashes “cast into the sea” – and Linden and Gabriel being thingy about it is because they don’t know what happens to the bodies before they’re cremated, not because they are cremated. (Also I don’t think it’s immoral.)

        My point was that Rhine’s objection to autopsies isn’t something about not wanting her body damaged, since she’s happy to have it completely destroyed, and she doesn’t seem to realise she can have both.

        1. Act says:
          Huh? I wasn’t arguing with you. I’m pretty sure we both think Rhine’s OMG THEY’RE GIVING HER AN AUTOPSY IT’S EVILLLLL is weird.
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      2. Farla says:
        I think the dissection issue is another point in favor of the real setting being historical, not future. And a point for the author being very conservative in a probably religious way.
  2. Act says:
    whatthefuck whatthefuck whatthefuck this author just wrote a child’s rape as something good that happened. That was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read.

    Also pissing me off: They keep referring to her as “blondie” but it’s not fucking capitalized. IT’S A NAME YOU DUMB WENCH CAPITALIZE IT.

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    1. Veracs says:
      Oh dear god. I know.

      I initially had a big long post talking about why this was horrible and disturbing and how could anyone do this? As in, how could anyone be so awful as to write about something like that in such a way, in this day and age. I don’t have the full context, but I really don’t detect any irony at all in what was written.

      After I had everything typed up, I re-read what I had written and realised that nothing I could say was emphatic enough, and that no matter what I said, I could not properly express how sick this made me feel.

      And this is from someone who read Rectified Anonymity and laughed the entire time.

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      1. Farla says:
        What’s confusing is the book does say it’s wrong. It just doesn’t seem to quite understand why, and then goes back to talking about how Cecily got what she wanted.

        This is actually leaving me with an uncomfortable feeling that maybe the authors writing historical settings, where I usually assume this is mean to be an issue of character viewpoints, actually share the setting’s opinion and that’s why they like the period.

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    2. Farla says:
      But you don’t understand, Cecily wanted it. She charmed him. It was practically entrapment! Also, Cecily kept acting like a thirteen year old girl, which is a terrible crime, and raping her turned her into a broken quiet shell so she doesn’t bother Rhine asking questions.

      As to the blondie bit, yes, my spellcheck was also angry. To me it seems more of them not actually meaning it as her name and trying to keep her as a nameless non-person. Or specifically the author doing this to her, since I don’t think the characters have that much intended depth.

  3. C.C. says:
    I remember how four chapters ago you said Rhine could be a tolerable protagonist. How quick the author was to remedy that.

    For some reason, Rhine adds that she thinks Cecily has no idea that she would have died if she wasn’t picked. There’s no sign of that. 
    I might be mistaken, but wasn’t Cecily already in the knock-out gas vehicle by the time the shots were fired?

    Anyway, after this Linden spends most nights in her bed but doesn’t have sex with her so she can keep being a good girl. 
    This. So much. YA has this weird Madonna complex with its female characters so much as hinting at sexuality. Like with Katniss having no qualms about shooting people and drowning ugly kittens but OH NOES SHIRTLESS FINNICK. Chloe from The Summoning was like that as well, I think. To be honest, I’m trying to forget as much of that series as possible. Even though all these books were written by women, it still reeks of virgin/whore complex.

    On the other hand, it’s rare to find a YA book with a male protagonist with no hint of sex. Hell, half the time it’s the subplot of the book.

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    1. Farla says:
      You could make an argument Cecily may not have heard the gunshot, but Rhine did before she was knocked out. Also the fate of the girls appears to be common knowledge, so even if Cecily doesn’t know what happened to those particular ones, she should know death was an option. Plus she spent hours in the dark surrounded by terrified girls, one of whom was pounding on the walls trying to alert someone. If Cecily thought everything was fine, she’d have spoken instead of huddling silently with the rest.

      For Cecily to be ignorant, she can’t have been in the truck. She would need to have been bought from the orphanage directly. I have no idea why she wasn’t.

      Even though all these books were written by women, it still reeks of virgin/whore complex.

      Sometimes women are the worst ones about this.

      It would be interesting to try out a book with a male protagonist for comparison. I think they usually don’t actually get to have sex with everyone either, but I’m pretty sure the method of arranging this is completely different.

      1. C.C. says:
        My mind completely blanked on the whole van ride. Which makes Rhine thinking Cecily couldn’t know her possible fate even more ridiculous.
        1. Farla says:
          I’m pretty sure the book’s forgotten, or changed its mind, or something. The whole thing reads much better if he bough Cecily separately.
  4. Savanah says:
     So, the guy just fucked a 13 years old and we are supposed to still want him to be alive and have a freaking happy ending?!

    Last time I’m was reading a book and a character raped a little girl and her mother he was killed! And I loved the scene!

    Now, please kill Linden with a pillow while he sleeps and I’ll be happy.

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    1. Farla says:
      The rapist just didn’t realize thirteen year olds are kids! It’s not his fault! And he’s so very pretty!
  5. Leonera says:
    On the slavery thing. Maybe the gray van people are just slavers? They catch their merchandise, and then bring it to the market to be sold, except that Vaughn and Linden had a direct connection to the pipeline that let them see the merchandise first, before the rest of the market?

    Still doesn’t explain why they shot all the other slavery-worthy girls, though.

    1. Farla says:
      No, it doesn’t seem like people kidnap for any reason other than the wife thing. They buy their slaves directly from the orphanages.

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