(...technically my issue is I have no idea where to put things. And where most people go "bookshelf, storage bin, storage bin" I usually sit there staring at the object as if it had magically appeared in the middle of my floor, even though it is the knitting needle, box of acrylic jewels or baggie of solvant-resistant glitter I've had for six weeks, wondering where the hell I can put it. Give me a box labled "glitter" and put it on the shelf and I own that fucker, but it's a lot harder for me to think of what to do with it on my own. I call this being lazy as sin.)
As for the editing, it's looking pretty good. We should be ready to go by drop-day. And then I get to try to get the next Gray Prince book out (hey, remember back when I had three series going? And it lasted for like one book? And then I gave up?) in two weeks. And that's not going to be a lot of fun.
And...*sighs* I have gone over to the dark side. It's a tumblr. With me attached to it. So basically it's where all my random not book-or-blog related stuff will go. Art ramblings and things of that nature, and whatever the hell else I decide I want to put there. I've actually had it for months, but I've never done anything with it. Now you know where to find it. And I promise to put things on it. Have fun.
Right. So where were we?
Ruben is in the World's Greatest Mansion, and his handyman, Leroy, is a psychopath. Fantastic.
I'm gonna go get a beer now.
Alright. What's this chapter like?
HE HADN’T BEEN the least bit afraid of anything when he’d come here the first time.
Well, that's understandable. Ruben was prime grade A prick before, but now he's got a healthy dollop of survivor's guilt, he's returned to the crime scene for the first time, he watched a woman he liked well enough to screw die right here, he had a panic attack in the hallway...yeah, he's probably very humble Tigger right about--
And now he was far more removed from fear than he’d been then. He felt quietly powerful, resilient, and self-confident in a way he’d never felt before the transformation.Oh, fuck you gently with a chain-saw, Ruben.
Now, I understand this impulse to make a character be beyond fear, pain or danger. I usually fight it with all the streingth I've got, with middling-to-fair results. Anne Rice apparently thinks the impulse to keep her precious characters from emotional danger is a good thing.
But let's look at this from a normal human POV: You were almost murdered in this house. Your sexual partner of about five hours or so was murderered here. You encountered a monster that changed your entire life here. You are changing into a monster rather similar to it, and you've eaten four people in two days without entirely meaning to.
I'd be scared. I'd be really, REALLY scared. I'd be "Mr. Officer, sir? Can you put me into the drunk tank overnight? No, no, don't put anybody else in with me. Humor me. Please. We'll talk again in the morning".
My favorite scene in character development is probably that scene in Fight Club where Edward Norton realizes that he is Tyler Durden, and that Tyler planned a terrorist campaign that will end badly for everyone, and the very first thing he does is grab every shred of evidence he can get his hands on and go straight for the cops. (Who turn out to be Fight Club members. I heart that movie so hard). Mostly because that's the overwhelmingly right thing to do. If you have an alt who is killing people and you know it, reguardless of co-consiousness, and you are a basically good human being? YOU TURN YOURSELF IN AND GIVE A FULL CONFESSION. If you are a great human being you spend the entire trial refusing an insanity defense because your alt knows right and wrong just as well as you do. What makes the author of Fight Club a great author is not that he did this, it's that he then had it backfire on the main character so hard it left cracks in the e-reader. Good writers do not avoid smart plot developments that would destroy their own plot. They invent a work around, and use it.
Ruben does not turn himself in. He continues to expose society to the danger that he represents, and he justifies it because his victims were criminals. He has no evidence that his powers are not infallible. Ruben is not a good person.
Ruben doesn't like to be alone. We get a description of his upbringing that is basically "I heart money" and more mourning for a woman he knew for all of five hours, six tops.
Ruben explores the house. Again.
I am now powerfully motivated to build a scale replica of this house in Minecraft, fill it full of TNT, run the world's most epic redstone line away from the front door, build a lever, place it, and then flick it to on. It wouldn't accomplish much but OH GOD WOULD IT BE SATISFYING.
Ruben see-saws between his obsession with Felix Nideck and mourning for Marchant, who is shaping up to be Ruben's One True Wub after all. The L-word is employed at least once during his search of her office, and at one point during dinner he stops eating and prays to her soul for forgiveness for forgetting that she died here.
I'd much rather have an apology for letting me die. I mean, I know it wasn't his fault, but I'd rather be alive than somebody's sainted memory. If you're obsessing over me that hard, I'm gonna haunt your ass until you forget.
And Celeste calls, and we find out that Ruben, Patron Saint of Werewolves and Journalism, has been a reporter a grand total of six fucking months.
Dear Everybody involved in producing this book: Reality is this way:
Also: Ruben thinks that Celeste is irresponsible for going to a movie with a friend while 42 children have been kidnapped.
UH, DUDE? You are the one who has supernatural Werewolf-drug powers, and you are the one who just RAN THE FUCK AWAY and hid in the opulent mansion YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS OWNING.
Ruben goes into the library and reads a lot of old names that will become important later.
PLEASE GOD, DO NOT LET ANNE RICE MAKE HER WEREWOLVES IMMORTAL. It was stupid as shit when Stephenie Meyer did it, but we could forgive it because immortal wolves are nothing compared to VAMPIRES THAT FUCKING SPARKLE. LIKE FAIRIES. DIPPED IN BODY GLITTER. Anne Rice has a reputation for being better than that. PLEASE. NO IMMORTAL WOLVES. PLEASE.
Ruben then sends himself an email, via his Iphone, with all their names in it.
Anne Rice severely overestimates the ability of thumbs. I heart my smart phone--it's only problem is that there is a phone involved--and if I have to record that many names? Pencil and paper. It's faster, it's not frustrating, and it doesn't crash the way EVERY WORD PROCESSING PROGRAM EVER has when applied to a phone/tablet system.
And then Ruben goes into Felix Nideck's bedroom and finds a book on Catholic theology.
I read part of the first chapter. Like, the first two pages. Then I put it back on the shelf. The alternative would be to take it home and set it on fire (I am so not even remotely kidding) and I didn't want to give Rice the money. It's on a level with Kingdom Come, that GOD FUCKING AWFUL sequel to the Left Behind series, and it managed to reach that status after two pages. So yeah. Every time Anne Rice says "God" I twitch violently and look for the nearest door and/or lighter.
...she would have gotten bonus points from me if it had been Thomas Keating.
Then he went back down to Felix’s old room that he would occupy tonight, and he felt a little panic that he’d been here so far away from the television news that had sustained him since he’d been old enough to turn it on at the age of four.
ANNE. PERIODS EXIST FOR A REASON.
And then Ruben realizes that something's missing from the room. Specifically, the antique, ancient tablets that were in every room prior to this, that I neglected to mention because THIS IS A FUCKING HOUSE.
Seriously. This is a book about werewolves, and a superhero-orign story, and we are OBSESSING OVER ANTIQUE TABLETS FROM MESOPOTAMIA. AND THE B-52s ARE SOMEHOW NOT INVOLVED.
And whoever stole them managed to get every single one out of implied hundreds, but forgot to dust the shelves. Careless bastards.
Ruben panicks and tries to think who would steal all of Felix Nideck's treasure and those of us who have read urban fantasy and science fiction and comic books all our lives already know that it's Felix Nideck himself, and we're going to meet him in another eighty pages or so.
Anne is one of those writers who swears she never reads books in her own genre, right? Well, she sure as fuck ought to. At least read the TV Tropes sections, because that plot device is probably older than those fucking tablets.
ALSO: DEAR FUCKING GOD. THE SENTENCES IN THIS BEAST.
Who would have left the little boxes of ancient coins and, look there, a medieval codex in plain sight, and he’d seen others upstairs, books that libraries would have paid a fortune for.This one loses its point halfway through. It all falls apart if you remove that paranthetical phrase, look there, which is about as useful as a hat on a goat (all parantheticals are about as useful as hats on goats. They are parentheticals because they've got no fucking business being in the actual sentence and the writer knows it.) (But they put them in anyway, because sometimes they add to the voice). Remove it, and the "sentence" reads:
Who would have left the little boxes of ancient coins and a medieval codex in plain sight, and he’d seen others upstairs, books that libraries would have paid a fortune for.And it ought to read:
PUNCTUATION. IT IS YOUR FRIEND.
Who would have left the little boxes of ancient coins? And look there, a medieval codex in plain sight. He'd seen others upstairs, books that libraries, ect ect.
Ruben then compares his precious antique tablets to dried cookies.
I don't even.
Ruben then demands all the police photographs so he can find out when his tablets were stolen, so that he can report them missing if he needs to.
Folks, if I were a cop, and I were given a report on missing items in a house inherited under mysterious circumstances, I would start to investigate the shit out of whoever called. And I would also have removed the items in the first place, because I am proud to be that kind of bitch.
(It's my word. I can use it if I want to)
Ruben makes more frantic calls, and then imagines one of Felix's friends showing up to rescue all his tablets from the little shit-head who inherited the house after Marchant died. Under those mysterious circumstances. And of course Ruben fantasizes about convincing this imaginary person that he's the perfect human being/wolf to take care of these lovely treasures.
Speaking of which, "treasure" stopped looking like a word several pages ago.
Oh, and Ruben has Honorable Intentions. His Honorable Intentions are so honorable that they will overpower everyone else's common sense.
Ruben researches Marchant's murder long enough to realize the story went viral and that Felix's friends could have heard about it--because it isn't like one of them could have a google alert on their buddy's name or anything, given that the dude is missing and they'd probably want to know when he was found--before he abandons everything to research the kidnapping.
Well...Rice got the ADD of the internet generation right, but it's a little humbling to see that in print.
Either that, or she really sucks at transitions.
The only positive is, after pages and pages of her death being mentioned ONE CHAPTER AGO, the little dead girl gets a name and a halfway decent description. Her name is Sarah Kirkland. I'm giving Anne big kudos for that and I'm not being sarcastic. The only thing that sucks is that her death is being used as motivation to get Ruben off his fucking ass, and is not being treated as the horrible fucking thing that it actually is.
Then Ruben paces because the change isn't happening early enough for his taste.
I can actually commisurate with this, because I am a girl and there are months where I start literally shouting "OH JUST GET IT THE FUCK OVER WITH ALREADY".
Ruben's mom sends him an e-mail about a specalist in Paris. I'm calling it: This is that cloud-the-size-of-your-hand in plot, isn't it?
At this point, Anne, can we stop dropping plot threads and just have a fucking plot?
Patricia Briggs. I know she's controvercial among some of ya'll because Reasons, but at least at this point the kidnapping/murder/vampire threat would have happened and Mercy/Ana would be sticking her nose into somebody else's business, and Sam/Charles would probably be Suicidal, and Adam would be all patronizing and shit, but in that "I know I'm a shit-head" kind of way that lets you know he'll let Mercy get away with it, and Zee would get involved because Zee is awesome, and Marcillia would be showing signs of being both involved and batshit insane (UNLESS WE ARE TALKING ABOUT FROST BURNED BECAUSE FUCK THAT BOOK SUCKED)
And if this was Lois McMaster Bujold we'd be knee deep in the theological repercussions of posession by demons/gods/animal spirits, a major character would have died and the main character would be pretty much at the halfway point of the "travel" period of the book. (PALADIN OF SOULS. READ PALADIN OF SOULS. OH MY GOD BEST BOOK EVER)
...of course, if this were Anita Blake we'd still be in a pissing contest involving cops and insert-cool-were-animal here. (Hippos. I want were-hippos. Bonus points if the lead were-hippo is someone who had anorexia/bulimia issues in her past that she never got properly addressed and now she has to deal with being the fattest and baddest animal on the block, and her therapist is absolutely thrilled because it means she has to actually handle her issues instead of avoiding them as long as she's over 110 lbs)
Ruben then orders plants for the conservatory. Obviously he wants tropical because he orders (sigh)
orange trees, ferns and bougainvillea.
FYI, bougainvillea are evil. They grow like "HOLY FUCK, THAT WAS MY HOUSE YESTERDAY AND NOW IT'S A PLANT", they have thorns that wouldn't look out of place on the most sadistic crucifix you can imagine, and they are poisonous. We have them in front of the restaurant. My boss is always trimming them, and I do fucking damn well mean "ALWAYS". When we are slow, she's out there with hedge clippers.
If you get bougainvillea voluntarily, and you don't bonsai the fucker on purpose, you hate your landscaper. In this case it is Leroy, the dude nice enough to scrub Marchant's blood off the floors for Ruben.
This paragraph happens:
He went online and ordered a laser printer for this library, and a desktop Mac to be delivered as soon as possible, and a number of Bose CD players, and a whole slew of Blu-ray. Bose CD players were the only obsolete technology he loved.
Bose is paying Rice money, aren't they? Fuck, are they desperate.
Finally, Ruben is so restless he goes out to chop wood. Because he isn't changing shape.
I get this. Usually when I am on call, I am spending every single minute on Minecraft instead of editing, because I usually can't focus on writing until 7:45.
Ruben then decides not to chop wood, and simply brings the axe inside, because it's the only weapon he's got. He dumps it beside the fireplace.
HELLO CHEKHOV'S GUN, YOU WERE NOT MISSED IN THIS EPISODE.
Ruben decides to put on his werewolf disguse--intended to hide that he is a wolf, naturally--and go driving until the change happens.
And then he talks about how much he loves his house. Again.
I'm serious. Minecraft replica. TNT. Catharsis.
And then we get...this:
Think. Think like a kidnapper who has to hide forty-two children. Think like a ruthless tech genius that can bludgeon a little girl to death and throw her on a lonely spit of beach in the rain, and get back to where he’s warm and comfortable, where he’s got his computer handy for routing his bank demands and his calls.WAIT. WAIT A SECOND.
WHY IS THIS A TECH GENIOUS? Because he's smart enough to use a Tracphone and one of those IP randomizers? That means he did his research, not that he's a tech wiz. A tech wiz could have stolen money without needing to kidnap innocent children.
The chapter ends with Ruben figuring the kids are under everybody's nose.
Great. We're finding them next chapter and saving them within three. I really hope I'm proven wrong but I do not have much hope.