Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 23


I am 27.

The entire world has changed since last year, far as I'm concerned. No, I'm not a successful writer. Yet. But last year I was not functional. And by "not functional" I mean suicidally depressed. As in I decided a few days before my 26th birthday that if I could not manage to get my book published THAT YEAR, I was not going to see 27. By my own choice.

I had a plan and everything. I'd done research. It was not a happy time.

One day I will have the guts to post the whole story, because a lot of it is me whining and it'll be really easy to look at it and go "oh, well. All she wants is attention." and not understand that my brain was so fucked up for the first six months of 2012 that the whining was the stuff I actually believed and nothing could convince me otherwise (and the clusterfuck that happened last April did not help matters at all). Today is not that day. But knowing where I am now, and knowing where I was last year...it's kind of awesome to me that I made it through to here, and I'm finally excited about where I'm going to go next.

...I have to review the sucky book now, don't I?

So. So far we have rehashed how awful Merry is, we've introduced a plot thread involving possible faerie civil war (revolving around sex) a rampaging war hell beast with no name, a plot thread involving Merry getting pregnant,  and a plot thread involving high double digit mass murder.

And look, I'm sorry, I have to say it: I love true crime. Aphrodite Jones, Ann Rule, M. Williem Phelps, the list, my friends, the list goes on from there. So if you write about a mass murder that ranks up there with Jonestown, Waco and Heaven's Gate, and it is so boring I can't read it? YOU HAVE LOST THE GAME.

So, having stormed out of the crime scene in a huff because a police detective was less than polite to her and wasn't all that interested in the opinion of an untrained, violent civilian, Merry gets into a car to drive to nowhere.

This book now officially has no goal whatsoever.

She's all flustered and shaky, and Rhys tells her that she's in shock because what she saw was just oh, so bad.

Yes. Yes it was. Everybody has the right to be in shock after seeing fifty to a hundred dead bodies. But nobody else is in shock. Everybody else can handle it. Frost. The cops. It's only pretty perfect princess Merry who can't handle the big bad murder scene.

This is unfair on two levels: One, it makes this murder all about Merry fucking Gentry, and not about the people who died inside that house. The Lovely Bones is one of my favorite books because it is the ONLY murder-centric book I've read that focuses and glorifies the VICTIM of a terrible crime, rather than the murderer.

Secondly: It implies that the police are used to shit like this. They're not. I've heard stories about cops knowing what tests to run and what things to look for because they watched Forensic Files. I read a book on the Green River Killer written by the cop who ran the task force up until his election as Sherrif. I read the book about the cops trying to clean up the Branch Davidian compound after David Koresh had his people light it on fire. The good True Crime books don't dwell on the awful things, but rather on how it affects the cops. And it affects them badly every single time. I've heard at least three different stories about cops going through a terrible crime scene, doing their work, making sure their paperwork was fucking PERFECT, that the evidence was catalogued right, that everything was done, and then going home and shooting themselves because it was just. that. bad.

This book is implying that if a bad crime scene affects you negatively, there must be something wrong with you. You must be weak somehow. If a bad crime scene affects you, you are HUMAN. End of story.

Merry asks if the boys have seen worse. They have. She pressures them to tell her about it. They refuse. She pressures some more. And then Frost says this:

“I am sure Rhys has seen worse than I. I was not alive during the very first battles when our people fought the Firbolgs.”

The most facinating part of Celtic mythology is the "invasions". I've been trying very hard to find a good source book on them. The "invasions" are peroids where one race takes over Ireland, and then another race battles the first race...I think? Like I said, finding concrete stuff on the "invasions" is difficult. I know the Book of Kells is a source for a lot of it.

Seeing it dismissed as a footnote in this book is like...UGH. IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO EXPLORE THE AWESOMENESS WHY ARE YOU BRINGING IT UP?

To justify Merry being shaky after seeing almost a hundred dead people. Because this world revolves around Merry.

Merry keeps pushing to find out about the "Something worse" the boys have seen. And then we get a sentence that just boils LKH's entire philosophy down beautifully: 

There is no that can be worn down to yes, then there is NO. Rhys’s no was one of those.
Yep. If you can wear somebody else's will down and make them agree with what you want, you can! Because sometimes you can turn an No into a Yes if you just try hard enough.

In a healthy universe, no means no. This is not a healthy universe.

Merry asks what she missed in there, because she was "sheilding" too hard to see anything. Because you could go into that place and come out covered in "riders".

*sighs*. Okay. So two, three years ago I decided to be a little flexible in my beleif system. I am a Christian, I believe in the basic creed, but there are a lot of fun wrinkles I've allowed myself because God is bigger, and Romans 14 and SI issues, and it's a really long story. But somewhere in all of this I managed to wind up with a new-age-y councelor. Now, she was very good for my SI issues and she was very good with the aftermath of my sexual assault, but eventually we went from doing nice, normal talk therapy to trying to deal with issues from past lives.

I do not believe in re-incarnation. And if it is there, I do not remember a goddamned thing from any past life, ever. But I wound up going along with it because my head was pretty fucked up back then, too. Eventually we got tired of past life things (mostly because when we tried regression I just got the giggles) and she decided that I had "riders". And that's when things got weird. Dowsing rods were involved, mostly to measure the circumfrence of my "aura" or whatever, but most of it was me sitting in a chair with my eyes closed and my arm stuck out in midair while the councelor asked the "rider" questions and pushed on my wrist. It wasn't too long after this that I stopped going to counciling completely, because I was trying to get my head on straight, not revamp my religious beliefs into...that.

I think LKH and my old councelor would either love each other to itty bitty pieces or they would start having magic battles or something. Fluffy bunny dark vs. fluffy bunny light. Apparently, they're both using the same study manual.

And then Rhys accuses her of not being brave enough to risk getting a "rider" in exchange for looking at a crime scene. No shit, Sherlock. If I thought I'd pick up a hitchhiker of somekind at a scene like that? The Death Star wouldn't have sheilds as good as mine.

They argue, and Rhys finally says it's a ghost. I just summed up four pages of LKH's trademarked "is it this?" "How could it be this?" "Oh I know it's this because--" nonsense. You're very welcome. And it's not just any ghost, it's the ghost of an immortal, and not just any immortal, but an elder god.

...please realize along with me that this book could very well have been about the ressurection of Cthulhu.

Instead, we focus on how the sidhe sometimes release the ghosts of the elder gods on the fey because why not? They're all fucking sociopaths anyway. Only one sidhe could do the spell, and he's dead, and the rest of them would be killed if they tried to do the spell, so whoever is using it is either a moron or really, really desperate.

But you know? We haven't gotten LKH's patented brand of religious superiority in a while. Let's see if we can't fix that:

but some of the elder ones can be brought back to full strength if they get enough lives. Sometimes one of them will convince a cult somewhere that they’re the devil and get them to sacrifice themselves,
Yes. Cults believe that they are worshipping Satan. Except that, unless we're talking about a very special brand of melodramatic, they don't.

David Koresh had his people believing that he was the reincarnation of Christ.

Jim Jones had his people believing that they were building a better world

Heaven's Gate believed that Jesus/Te had come back to take everybody back in his/her magical spaceship behind the Hale-Bopp comet.

Jeffery Lundgren had people believing that he was God.

I could go on all night.

The thing about evil, when it is truely evil, is that it doesn't present itself as an ugly nasty thing to be feared. It presents itself as, if you'll pardon the Christian imagry, an angel of light. Something that is good, that appeals to you and to your basic desire to be good. Sociopaths aren't marked by their disgusting actions; they're marked by their charm. Evil presents itself as something desirable. Otherwise people would run away from it.

Or to quote Lewis, "The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the holy; nowhere do we tempt so well as on the very steps of the altar."

Yeah, there's a big fuck you for that dismissive bullshit, LKH.

And now they're talking about how the magician has to be sidhe, and how revealing this to the cops could get them all thrown out of the country.

Uh...why? Seriously. Unless you actually want them gone, why would one bad apple be enough to get the whole race thrown out? Branch Davidians still exist. We haven't thrown them out of society just because David Koresh was an unbelievable fucking monster. We keep germans around.

This is never explained, because Rhys goes off on this long "Everybody forgets about me" insane gigglefest that makes him, officially, the creepiest character in the novel.

The chapter ends with them going to pick up Kitto. 


  1. Is it the 27th already? Wow this month has gone fast.

    *throws confetti*


    *sings out of key*

    On a much more important note - Depression is not whining. And I'm glad you decided to stay alive.

  2. "Unless you actually want them gone, why would one bad apple be enough to get the whole race thrown out? "
    If I recall correctly, it's because the entire 'No worship as gods, no doing anything god-level' clause is the one zero-tolerance clause in America's pact with the courts. If one of them goes FUBAR, all of them are to be kicked out on the spot.

    Yes, this is COMPLETELY incompatible with the Merry-the-vessel-of-the-Goddess routine that takes over the latter books. One wonders if Hamilton really quit the series because 'Merry didn't want to be disturbed', or because she realized even SHE couldn't write herself out of that one.

  3. Hey, happy birthday!

    It's...not something I'd want to talk about at length, but I was suicidally depressed for years too. And had really decided not to live. And now sometimes it's so surreal how I can envision myself getting older, have plans for the future, even think about how awesome I'm going to be when I'm an old rat lady who dresses partly in Victorian mourning garb partly like a cliche Halloween witch. Because I could never ever conceive of any of that before. I was so sure I was going to die, and so set on it. It's so crazy. So I get what you mean about the whole world having changed.

    Your counselor, wtf. No words.

    That's a really, really good point about The Lovely Bones. I haven't managed to read that yet, by the way, was it good?

    Yeah, many more people are going to be inclined to worship angel of light figures. Satan might get some responses, but they'd mostly be a few edgy angry teenagers, I expect. You'd probably only get a cult-level following if it was more along the lines of, as you pointed out, what many real cults believe.

    1. It's weird how suicidal ideation can control you. And unless you're sociopathic, it's got nothing to do with how you're being treated. That can trigger it, but it's kind of a symptom of a greater disease.

      And that part of my life was very weird. I was very, very vulnurable to a lot of garbage, mostly due to being sleep deprived and from living with my father. (My father is a wonderful person, but there are many concrete reasons not to live with him.) I just hope that the woman actually believed all that and that she wasn't just playing me. (...I also wish I had hooked her up with one of my brother's ex-girlfriends, but that's the mean sadistic part of me showing out. It would have been fun to watch).

      The Lovely Bones. OH MY GOD. Before I read that book I wanted to write that murder-story-that-focuses-on-victims book, and then I read it and I was like, well, now I don't have to do that. The writing in it is beautiful, the imagry is gorgeous and it will break your heart into a thousand tiny pieces with the first chapter, and then spend the rest of the book helping you put the pieces back together. There are not a lot of books that I think absolutely NEEDED to be written, but that one did. Exactly the way it was. It's got a few flaws and the first chapter will be triggery as hell (the rape and murder of the victim is mostly onscreen from her POV.) but it takes the power of the crime away from the murderer and puts it back into the hands of the victims. If it says anything, it says "Yes, this terrible thing happened to us and we can't erase it, but we sure as hell can heal around it."

      Re: Cults...It's also a slow and scary process, because you don't realize what's happening to you until you hit a wake-up point where the whole construction collapses...or you die in the cult. The most dangerous cults I've read about (Jeffery Lundgren and the Branch Davidians under Koresh) started as splinter groups from a larger group that was already insular and moderately paranoid, and usually begin as a legitimate questioning of the primary group's beliefs. Religion helps, but it's not a requirement. It isn't the beleif system of the cult that is key, but rather the charisma and manipulative ability of the leader.

      People DO NOT have defenses against a good manipulator. We don't. It's a terrifying thing, but choosing not to believe in one system does not insulate you from being dragged into another. You can deny all religion and get pulled into a secular cult around some imaginary medical breakthrough. You can avoid both of those and wind up in a cult wrapped around a political movement (or vice versa). The only thing I've found that can keep people kind of safe is to question and research the leader. Both how they live their lives and how accurate what they're saying is. And develop good instincts and research skills, and keep your belief system personal--you're happy to share, but your theology is between you and your God and it's not something open to debate. Religious cults' greatest hook is doctrinal error.

  4. Throwing my support in to say that if you ever feel the urge or desire to write about your experiences, I'm sure that no reader would think that it's whining or a cry for attention. Sometimes you just have to have people bear witness to what you've been through/ are going through, you know? This sound facetious, but seriously congratulations on making it the year.
    In the nature of translucency, I have pretty crippling depression as well and the only thing that's been keeping my suicidal attempts back the past few months has been my partner being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, (see, I want to delete that all because it sounds so attention grabbing, but I wont because fuck the negative voices in my head) so I know how hard it can be to just keep moving. So honestly, from the bottom of my heart, congratulations lady. You are so strong. Keep kicking depression's ass.

    *Ahem* Onto the book:
    "There is no that can be worn down to yes, then there is NO."
    *throws up hands* Nope. Off the book.

    1. Like I said up there, suicidal ideation is a horrible thing. A very small part of you knows that the thoughts you're having aren't completely real, but that part just feeds into the guilt that, in turn, feeds back into the suicidal thoughts.

      There were very few things that kept it at bay for me. Faith helped sometimes, including the altar I built during a rough spot two years ago. It helped having something concrete that I could look at that could remind me that things could and often did get better.

      so right back at ya. Keep going. Even when it sucks. Even when it hurts. It WILL eventually end.

  5. "Eventually we got tired of past life things (mostly because when "We tried regression I just got the giggles) and she decided that I had "riders". And that's when things got weird. Dowsing rods were involved, mostly to measure the circumfrence of my "aura" or whatever, but most of it was me sitting in a chair with my eyes closed and my arm stuck out in midair while the councelor asked the "rider" questions and pushed on my wrist."

    ....On behalf of sane Pagans, I sincerely apologize for this nutbar you encountered. That's not therapy, that's flakery. Sheesh.

    1. Oh, I don't call that stuff Pagan. Pagan has a flavor, and new age has a flavor, and that was definitely New Age. I actually have a lot of fun having spiritual conversations with Pagans because most of the practicing ones I've met are really well grounded. This, on the other hand...

      It was very much Angels and Angel Vibrations and invoking the archangels and Metatron, which was the voice of God, I think? And it was that, more than the "riders" that pushed me off of her. I've never walked away from Christianity, but there was a time where the traditional stuff just wasn't working anymore, and I kind of took a long detour through some pretty complicated stuff, most of which I still use from time to time when I start sinking into an emotional black hole again. A lot of it was really, really significant for me, and NONE of it meshed with what we were doing, especially not the angel stuff. The fact that "her" archangels didn't seem to be on the same page as "my" archangels (long story), even when she insisted that they were, was probably the thing that contributed the most to my waking up.

    2. Yeah...Eek. I'm glad you've found stuff that works for you, though!