The timeline for this series is rather screwy. Probably the best thing that LKH did for this series was give it a deadline: Merry has six months to get pregnant before Cel gets out and tries to kill her again. This gives the series a sense of urgency, and a tight space in which to work.
Anyone who has read Anita Blake, or watched LKH's attitude towards her deadlines should know how much the lady hates time limits. So of course the first thing she did in the second book was throw out three months, and I *think* the space between the end of the previous book and the start of this one is about a month. So in the space of two books we've lost well over half of our deadline time. In which Merry has done nothing, save screw. She's making attempts at cementing alliances, but only at the urging of her men--Doyle, mostly. She's pretty officially at TSTL at this point, and she's proven that she would NOT make a very good Queen. A better Queen than Cel, but she wouldn't be what the Fae need right now.
Why do I say this? If I'm right, then it's only been a month since Maeve Reed's mortal husband died. The backstory for Ms. Maeve is that she got thrown out of the Seelie court for implying that King Taranis was infertile, landed in Hollywood, and met and married the guy she's been with ever since. A Hollywood marriage surviving decades is rather amazing. A Fae woman marrying a man who hasn't gotten her pregnant goes against everything they know in their culture. All of this implies that Maeve truly, deeply, unconditionally loved her husband. She got pregnant not because she wanted his baby, but because she wanted something of his that she would get to keep for a little while. Not the best motivation to have a kid, but it's an understandable stage in the grieving process--bargaining, to be specific.
And Merry does not understand this. AT ALL.
- ...It was the bed she had shared with the late Gordon Reed for more than twenty years. I'd suggested that maybe she could move to a new bedroom until she got over some of her greif. She gave me a look so scathing I'd never suggested it again.
One of my favorite movies is Memento. In the middle of the movie, there are a handful of scenes where Leonard uses his disability (if you haven't seen it, Leonard has no short-term memory and cannot make new memories, so he's got about five minutes worth of RAM to work with) to trick himself into believing that his dead wife just got out of bed. It works, but the pain of rediscovering her death is worse because for him, he's just discovered it. He burns her things, which the movie implies were the last of her things, that he's done this a thousand times before with different props and different rooms. And just prior to this sequence, he says something absolutely gut wrenching:
I don't even know how long she's been gone. It's like I've woken up in bed and she's not here... because she's gone to the bathroom or something. But somehow, I know she's never gonna come back to bed. If I could just... reach over and touch... her side of the bed, I would know that it was cold, but I can't. I know I can't have her back... but I don't want to wake up in the morning, thinking she's still here. I lie here not knowing... how long I've been alone. So how... how can I heal? How am I supposed to heal if I can't... feel time?That's grief. That's what it looks like. It's best illustrated in the ten thousand things grieving people do that they don't have to do anymore: the extra place at the table they set by mistake, and then refuse to remove because it would mean admitting that no one is going to sit there. Rolling over into their part of the bed so that you can get their smell, for however long it lasts.
If Merry were this sheltered creature who had never suffered a severe, conscious loss, I'd give her this one. Not understanding that switching rooms would fix exactly shit would make sense. But Merry has lost a lot of things: her home, her father and only protector, friendships, lovers. She ought to understand that Maeve isn't in her bed because it's her room, she's in that room because it was Gordon's room, and it probably still smells like he was there. But instead, we get this convicting little twist at the end, about Maeve shooting Merry a nasty look for suggesting she trade rooms. I think we're supposed to read this as Maeve lashing out in the agonies of her grief, but it's so fucking clueless it's...yeah.
And let me remind you what brought this on: the studio execs Maeve work for suggested she get an abortion so she can still work.
And now Merry is going into Maeve's bedroom to make her stop crying.
Here's another theme I've noticed in LKH's writing: Tears must be stopped at all costs. Crying, negative emotion, always elicits this emergency response from everyone. If you are crying, you are not allowed to be alone and weep. People must come and distract you with something. Tears are always a call for attention. But Maeve has thrown her assistant, who is just as upset as she is, out of the room. It's kind of obvious, she wants to be alone.
Merry goes into the room, approaches the bed, mutters one word of "It's going to be okay" ....aaaaand we go straight to a random sex scene complete with random magic visions.
So the distraction-from-greif thing? It works perfectly. Same as every other time LKH wants to have ultimately negative behavior--ie slut shaming, the cultervention in Danse Macabre, dressing inappropretely, the constant pissing contests, the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that just won't stop happening--be portrayed as a positive thing. See, it's Maeve who is in the wrong here for crying. Merry must come and rescue her from her crying.
SHE IS IN MOURNING FOR HER DEAD HUSBAND YOU INSENSATIVE TWIT GO AWAY AND LET HER FUCKING CRY.
So. Random magic visions. When Merry comes to, Maeve and Frost are standing around her, looking worried. A couple minutes later, everybody's fine, and Merry has somehow given Maeve back her "godhead" (...that is the most phallic thing in this entire book, and that includes all the harem's penii) and has bestowed a brand spanking new one on Frost. Because Merry, for all intents and purposes, is just one great big Vagina of Holding.
So they talk about things. They try to explain how this could work. Maeve then says that when Merry and company killed the Nameless, the powers of the gods that folk like Rhys and Maeve had surrendered had gone into everyone present...except for Merry, who never had anything. So instead of it being her own personal godhead (gag) restored, Merry gets to be the very special Container for the Goddess Danu.
And then Maeve begins to cry again. Only THIS time, nobody crowds around to stop her. Because THIS time she's crying for Danu, and not for herself. Or, as Merry puts it:
This time I didn't think it was a bad day at work and baby hormones.
Fuck you. Seriously, Merry. Go sit on a plunger, go jump off a bridge, go do something to remove your worthless, self-centered, egotistical, sociopathic self from the universe. Maeve Reed wasn't weeping because of "a bad day at work and baby hormones". She was weeping because her husband of twenty years has been dead for LESS THAN A MONTH. Maybe, MAYBE she's more prone to weep because she's hormonal, but that does not in any way, shape, or form invalidate anything about her emotions. People do not weep without cause. And how self-centered is it that you won't allow someone to weep for themselves, but you'll allow it when it's for a goddess? Why aren't you piling on top of her to offer her comforts and sex now? Her husband died. HER. HUSBAND. DIED.
And where in the name of fuck do you get off calling your boss insisting on your abortion "a bad day at work". That's not "a bad day at work". Burning yourself on cooking equiptment is a bad day at work. Being told "Get an abortion or else" is a motherfucking lawsuit, and if Merry hadn't interrupted the tears here Maeve's next phone call would probably have been to an incredibly good lawyer. Even if Gordon were alive, this is an invasion of privacy and some kind of work-related harassment.
This scene is not logical. Maeve's greif here was agitated just so Merry could go in and comfort her and bring back her (gag) godhead. Maeve's tears at the end are to show that Something Profound Has Happened. There is no indication that any of these emotions are treated or handled as real, and that either writer or lead character had any sympathy for a new-minted widow carrying her husband's last-ever child.
I hate this book and everything about it.