Friday, July 20, 2018

Gerard's Beauty (Kingdom #2) by Marie Hall

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We've all seen Beauty and the Beast.  What if, Gaston had been maligned and was actually the good guy? In Gerard's Beauty, this is exactly what Hall proposes.  Gerard, had fallen in love with Belle, doting on her, and doing her bidding at all times.  Belle however had other ideas and instead of being with the man that was supposedly good for her, she fell for the Beast because he was rich, leaving Gerard alone and in misery.  Gerard was heartbroken and believed his life could not get any worse but then a princess threw herself at him and now the entire kingdom wants to exact revenge for his manwhorish ways. Luckily for Gerard, his fairy godmother has a plan.  If Gerard can somehow make his true love, fall in love with him in thirty days, he can win his freedom and spare his life. 

I don't know why I keep punishing myself by reading these re-writes of fairy tales.  I've only read one series that's been good, yet I keep taking another bite out of the apple in the hope that this feat can be repeated.  Gerard's Beauty is an epic failure. I suppose some of this is my fault because what good has ever come from a cover with man titteh?  I know that paranormal romance is all about a couple falling in love but it usually comes with some version of a plot - something to make you want to root for the HEA but I simply couldn't get through this fast enough. 

Gerard, the protagonist is an asshole. There's no other way to put it. He's actually not far from being an incel and that's creepy as fuck. Gerard spends a lot of time up in his feelings because Beauty chose another man and made him feel stupid because she is smarter than him.   The man is actually illiterate but because he felt that it was unmanly to read, he never took the time to learn. So, Beauty's biggest crime is simply deciding that she wanted to be with someone else and didn't return the love he felt for her.   Gerard is an empty headed ass who thinks that he's entitled to women's bodies.  Of course, this belief is bolstered by the fact that every woman wants to throw herself at him because of his super hot bod and breathe that smells like brandy (ewww). Even the head fairy godmother is angry at him because of his rejection of her. 

Gerard is sent to earth to claim the heart of Betty, who is just getting over a broken heart thanks to getting involved with a playa.  Betty supposedly is taking a break from men in order to regroup but when Gerard shows up outside of the library where she works, looking like a homeless man, Betty suddenly cannot resist him because he's so damn hot.  When Betty realises that Gerard doesn't have a place to sleep and the weather is inclement, she decides to take him home. Look, I get looking out for someone who has less and is potentially vulnerable but who takes them home because they're horny?

The 100, Season Five, Episode Nine: Sic Semper Tyrannis

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My biggest problem with this season has been that it feels very much like we are treading over ground that we've already walked. All the writers seem to have done is change the perspective slightly, as though to trick the audience into believing that they've breathed new life into what is now clearly a series which is past it best by date.  I do have to admit that though Sic Semper Tyrannis, didn't really add anything new per say, it's easily the best episode of the season so far and the only one to really capture my attention from start to finish. 

The lines quickly became divided between the people of the prison ship, the remaining members of Skaikru and of course Wonkru, which if you think about it is ridiculous given how little habitable land is available for humans to occupy.  I suppose one could argue that it is human nature to fight over difference and to make enemies of those who we consider to be outsiders but The 100 has been banging this same drum for the entirety of its existence. 

Rather than focusing on the battle to control the land, Sic, Semper Tyrannis focuses on the inner turmoil between the groups.  On one hand, we have Charmaine and McCreary vying for control and on the other, we have the attempted coup on Bloodreina which leads to a schism between Octavia and Indra as well as Clarke and Bellamy. This really is an episode about loyalties and who the characters value when the chips are down. I think that for the first time, all of the characters are forced to admit that the passage of time has changed a lot of things.

From day one, Murphy has always been conniving and it's easy to see how in the calm of space, this feature may not have worked to his best advantage; however, in the turmoil of an impending war, Murphy reminds us all how interesting and brilliant he can be. Murphy, Echo, Raven and Emori come to the determination that the best path towards escape is to play Charmaine off against McCreary and so Murphy sets the ball in motion by informing McCreary that Abby has found the cure and that Charmaine is only healing her people.  Echo, is the one who informs Charmaine that McCreary knows about the cure and in turn, Charmaine readies her people for an all out battle.  Clearly, after all of their years in space, the foursome are a family but what's perhaps most surprising is the leadership role that Echo seems to have fallen into.  Emori, Raven and Murphy don't follow her without question, especially when it comes to the issue of whether or not to kill Shaw or escape with him but it's clear that Echo has some authority.

I have wondered since the ship first landed about about the origin of the enmity between Charmaine and McCreary comes from. This week the writers threw in a twist by revealing that McCreary is the father of Charmaine's unborn child. I suppose there's a thin line between love and hate but I would still like a little bit more of their backstory to find out what happened between these two because it's clear, it must have been good once. 

After a well timed thrown rock by Murphy, shit jumps off and it's up to Raven and Emori to take off everyone's shock collars.  Shaw is on side after having been convinced by Raven to escape with them. Charmaine tries to head off McCreary's men before they can get to Abby but unfortunately, though Charmaine puts up a good fight, Abby is captured.  With no ability to get Abby back, Charmaine, Raven, Echo, Murphy, Kane and Shaw decide to withdraw for now.  Luckily I suppose for Abby, she seems to have created a bond with Vinson which it seems may bear fruit later.  Plotting together, Murphy and Echo may have been able to secure their freedom but now that Paxton is in charge, he makes it clear that he will not honour Charmaine's deal to share the Valley.

When we last left Wonkru, Bellamy had fed his sister the contaminated algae which put her into a coma. The plan was to initially have Indra step into Octavia's place and convince everyone to push for peace, rather than following through with Octavia's plan to attack. Unfortunately, what no one counted on was Miller stepping up, declaring himself loyal to Bloodreina and encouraging everyone to follow through on Octavia's plan.  Even worse, others want to divide into clans once again to decide who can lead.  It's clear that without Octavia holding it all together, true chaos is not far away.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Glitch, Season 2, Episode 3: All Too Human




We add a little more belated angst to James as he remembers in his dreams that Vic, dead cop Vic, was the one who helped pull him out of a bottle when he succumbed to despair after Kate died. So he totally owed him and then he murdered him which was super super sad.

When he wakes up (and finds Sarah already awake with the baby) she is there to offer support and point out he clearly is keeping things for her. So he confesses to kill Vic… ok, I admit that was… surprising how quickly he just admitted to murdering a colleague… but ok. He talks this through with her and she is… even more surprisingly ok with this? I mean she’s not cheering but she’s not exactly shaken either. She decides he “did what he had to”. But he’s worried that Chris is going to find the truth so Sarah advises telling him as much as possible so he trusts James more. Which makes sense. Oh and he should exploit Chris’s desperate wish to keep Kate safe

Because Sarah is also kind of savagely ruthless… Sarah is slightly worrisome.

He takes this advice and when Chris confronts him about lying - because Sarah has already told him there are more Risen out there. Sarah is up to something. James wins Chris over by revealing that, yes, there are more Risen, Kate is under threat and sadly Vic was acting totally weird and he’s not saying he killed Vic but nor is he saying he didn’t either… Vic just vanished. Convenient.

This means Chris also gets introduced to the other Risen who collectively… don’t really care

See Phil visited them during the night looking for Elishia - but she’s gone. Something Kate discovers when she wakes up. She calls James who tells them to wait there for him and Kate being Kate she promptly stomps out because he can’t tell her what to do!!!!!! Seriously, this is the only reason she leaves. If he told her not to hug a shark she’d be heading to the coast right now.

That leaves Kirstie to recount that Elishia has escaped and be huffy because James is less interested in her remembering more details about her murder (her best friend Vicky was there but when the police interviewed her she even denied being her friend - so she drags her best friend/servant Charlie off to go confront her) than he is in the fact Kate has sloped off again.

Kate tries to drive off but ends up running into the Boundary so instead hangs around a bit and meets Sarah - who rather brutally asks her not to steal James from her now she has a baby; she firmly believes that James loves Kate and would leave her if Kate asks. Kate insists that she definitely would never do that (especially since she’s storming around so much lately hating his every breath) and offers to help babysit because they’re friends. Sarah says they aren’t. Which is… probably honest but also harsh. Normally I’d frown at such jealousy and woman-vs-woman but I think this works as a) woo-woo or b) part of the ongoing depiction of post natal depression that we’ve seen on Sarah with her insecurities running overdrive

And I include a because she meets Phil. So last episode I assumed she’d actually texted Vic and got Phil because he stole Vic’s phone. Nope, she was actually sending information to Phil… he wants to know where Elishia is and when she says she doesn’t know she agrees to both dig up more info - and he does the weird and super creepy mouth-to-mouth-information drain on her. Which also cures her persistent headache. Definitely some woo-woo going on. Things are getting damn confusing.

Phil now has a lead to Elishia - Nichola Hysen the evil scientist who works with Nogard. Elishia is also thinking of Nichola. She and William/John Doe are on the run and she’s not entirely happy that Nichola told William who he was. But they both remember each other and feel deeply connected. When pressed to explain this weirdness, Elishia insists she can’t explain it in words becauese that would be too easy. I bet by the end of this season I can.. But she does reveal she deliberately brought William back and the others were an accident.


She is concerned about his butchered hand and wants to take him to the clinic - except of that pesky boundary nearly kills him. Note again that despite being risen she isn’t bound by the same rules.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Preacher, Season 3, Episode 4: The Tombs





Preacher is at its best when it knows what it is. Like Z Nation, it’s a show which can have odd moments of depth and introspection and meaning… but ultimately it’s camp, schlocky zany fun and it needs to remember that and hold that close to it’s silly cartoony, god-in-a-gimp-suit heart.

So opening in hell with the Saint of Killers being picked up from his hell cell, taken down the most rickety ridiculous lift ever to -9 where we see the most hyper-dramatic hellscape ever CGI’d in cheesy goodness. And then we see Satan who is both wearing the cheesiest rubber suit ever and behaves like a complete used car salesman

It’s perfectly perfectly Preacher.

So Satan is hyper pissed that The Saint of Killers escaped because that’s totally against Satan’s policy especially now he has big plans with god out the picture. So before he discusses any business he decides he needs to have the Saint of Killers brutally flogged by an angry Angel of Death. Which will apparently increase his reputation again because the Saint is dead but you do have to wonder about torturing people in Hell since they’re already facing their worst days over and over so they’re already kinda suffering as much as they can. The Saint is also so badarse that even though he’s flogged until he’s flayed down to the ribcage (because Preacher is so over the top)  and not flinch once

Formalities out of the way, he can now do Satan’s missions - hunt down Hitler and Eugene who escaped hell last season and bring them in… alive. I don’t know why - surely killing them would send them back to Hell? But apparently alive

And if he does this he can then get his weapons back and go hunting for Jesse

Back in reality we have Tulip and Madame Boyd, Sabina, who has Tulip trapped and mocks her that she’s not going to get out.

Tulip responds being being Tulip and shooting an escape route through the floor with a machine gun. Because she’s Tulip and Sabina has no idea who she’s dealing with but she learns awfully quickly as Tulip captures her

Tulip is still all torn and conflicted over what exactly she wants and what she’s doing, but she does want Jesse out of the contract with his grandma. Which is a shame because Sabina wants Jesse to rot in hell because he’s the “worst man she ever loved”. Oooooh drama.

Time for some flashbacks! (Jesse’s also having these to remind us how bad things were when he lived back with the Angels). Way back when he was the ring master of the Tombs where helpless imprisoned people fought in gladiatorial combat, desperate because winning against one of their own and then Jody was the only chance of these people actually getting free. Of course they fail and many of them die horribly or are pit back in the pit to fight another day. It’s clear young Jesse has a fair whack of responsibility for this on account of being both the master of ceremonies and being the one who lures most people into making the deals in the first place. He clearly feels guilty and even tries to discourage one man from gambling any more as he knows his debts are getting unmanageable

He’s also dating Sabina. (Who is also his age - not, as I thought, some ancient witch who has magically extended her life) but he’s not being subtle about it - TC knows what he’s doing and Jesse realises Sabina may end up actually being locked in the Tombs herself. So he brutally shoots her down in an extremely insulting and demeaning fashion. Yes it’s a classic “I need to be an arsehole to protect you” trope. Every male love interest has to do it at least once. It’s a rule. It’s in the code.

Tulip hears this recounting and isn’t overly impressed that Sabina is all stompy over a kid breaking her heart when she was also a kid. But there’s more

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale, Season Two, Episode Two, Season Thirteen

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There are so many things to unpack in this season finale.  Eden's death is still resonating throughout the Gilead. The task of gathering up her few belongings falls to June and Rita. Because of her so-called sins, Eden won't even be given a proper burial and will instead be hung on the wall and then fed to animals in order to reduce waste. Don't you just love Gilead's idea of environmentalism? Rita in particular is troubled by Eden's death, feeling guilt that she never had a kind word to say to the young woman. The truth is, in her position as a Martha, there's little Rita really could have done to make things better for Eden anyway. 

When going through her things, June finds Eden's bible filled with notes, hidden between some clothing.  June decides to share this with Serena who is quick to dismiss this discovery as truly unimportant, claiming that her daughter (read kidnapped child) will be raised to follow the rules of God. It's left for June to point out the obvious, if her daughter is not allowed to read, how will she know what the rule of God truly is? It's a salient point which hits the mark expertly. It's a reminder that Gilead isn't really about Christianity at all because if that were the case, the bible wouldn't be forbidden to women. June shouldn't have had to make this point to Serena.  It should have been obvious to a woman who is so intelligent that the trap she helped create has ensnared her and her descendants.

This season, the writers have worked hard to make Serena more dimensional by showing her frustration with the system she has found herself in, as well as the labour Serena does to maintain Gilead. This is why Serena was shown mobilizing the mothers of girls to petition the council in order that their daughters would grow up and read the word of God. It quickly became apparent from the dismissive attitude that Fred displayed that they were only interested in patronising the women.  Serena upped the ante when she actually read from Genesis to prove the goodness of the word of God, causing some of the women who came in support of her to leave.  Instead of reinforcing Serena's point, reading actually was deemed threatening to the all male council and so they responded by removing her pinkie finger.  Fred actually stood by and watched as his wife was taken off to be maimed by two Guardians. 

I know that Serena's awakening is meant to evince sympathy but there is more here than being careful what one wishes for. Serena worked hard to bring Gilead into being and she has supported the system every step of the way, including playing the dutiful wife on Fred's trip to Canada.  There's also the fact that she's been actively cruel to June, and even went as far as to hold June down so that Fred could rape her and hopefully induce labour.  On every level that you can think of, Serena is a horrible person and yet the writers seem convinced on suggesting that a woman in June's situation would have empathy for her oppressor.  It makes sense to me that June would attempt to push Serena to thwart the rules for Holly's sake but to attempt to comfort Serena when she gets what is coming to her is just a leap I am unwilling to make. There is no difference between Serena and Fred in terms of their culpability and I am unwilling to go along for the ride and believe that by virtue of her gender that Serena is even remotely a sympathetic figure.  

It seems that every step of the way that the writers are determined to give us scenes with a redemption arc for Serena.  Having Serena stop June when she is about to escape with Holly and simply say a teary goodbye to the child without raising the alarm because she has finally decided to act in the best interest of the baby, is meant to once again cast Serena as moral and good. I don't believe that Serena would have let that baby go without a fight having done so much to ensure her conception and with the sure knowledge that having a baby elevates her family in Gilead society.  

The narrative clearly has to move beyond the Atwood novel, not only because the writer are out of source material but one can only show maimed and brutalised women for so long before it becomes pointlessly gratuitous. This means some real change needs to happen in Gilead. We've watched as the writers teased us with June's escape attempt only to be brought back to the Waterford home. Then we had June giving birth to Holly, being sent back to the red center and of course, ending up in the Waterford home.  This time, June has a chance to escape when she is told by Rita that through the Martha network they can both June and the baby out. Nick even brandishes a gun at Fred when Fred figures out what is going on to stop Fred from raising the alarm.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Accidental Demonslayer (Demon Slayer #1) by Angie Fox




Lizzie was living a perfectly ordinary life when a demon appeared in her bathroom. And her dog started talking to her

Turns out she has inherited the legacy of the Demon Slayers and her guide to this new world is her long estranged grandmother, witch, biker and expert in the many uses of road kill.

She and a handesome shapeshifting griffin need to train her in this new world - especially since there’s a very powerful demon looking for her


There’s some elements of this book I really like, especially Lizzie’s origin. Lizzie was a nice, normal, school teacher. She has a nice, safe, mundane life and she’s dragged to her supernatural legacy by her grandma

And I love the grandma. Her grandma is part of a rather elderly coven who have managed to survive, alone of all the covens, in the face of a demon hunting them because they’re gloriously unconventional. They’re nomadic, bikers and their Earth Magic draws upon a whole lot of scavenging and road kill. And I kind of love this - I love this take on magic not being pretty or nice. I love how it’s by being so unorthodox that the biker granny witches have survived and I like that we have this really excellent collection of kick arse older women each doing their own thing and being decidedly indecorous about it. The coven rocks.

And I really like how Lizzie fits in with granny and this coven - i.e. not at all. She’s a nice conventional, a little boring, school teacher. She doesn’t ride motorbikes. She doesn’t fight demons. She doesn’t get dirty. She doesn’t eat road kill. And I like how her rejection of this kind of screws up Lizzie and the coven for a while with Lizzie making a major mistake because she IS human. I love how it sets up this conflict of Lizzie trying to adapt to this new life - while slowly learning to embrace it (I especially love the ending here).

There’s also a magical companion dog but meh, doesn’t mean a lot, manages not to be annoying or intriguing which is kind of weird for magical companion animals but does manage to make Lizzie look a bit of a dick for caring more about this dog than various people.

Anyone who has read my reviews knows the review is now going to take a negative turn as I talk about THE ROMANCE. I hate the romance in this story.

We have Dmitri, a Griffin (of course) who is… ambiguously secretive for no damn good reason for most of the book. I mean we get the answers right near the end for some pointless romance conflict but there’s no reason he couldn’t have been introduced with all of this. I mean he appears and Granny is all “we can’t trust him even though all he’s done is help us and we’d all be dead” but there’s never any reason why Granny doesn’t trust him or can’t explain a little about why she’s suspicious. Or even say he’s a Griffin! I mean, sort of relevant? Instead we have this convoluted mystery so Dmitri and Lizzie can fast forward themselves into a “romance” (if your only criteria for falling for someone is “he’s hot” is it even a romance? Because we know nothing else about him) and Lizzie can continually bounce between “zomg he’s so hot” and “Granny said not to trust him”. I mean this whole unnecessary mystery is there JUST so Lizzie can be conflicted about the relationship. And then when the inevitable happens and we find out that *GASP* Dmitri was looking for a Demon Slayer to take down the big bad for his own reasons and Lizzie is super offended by this because… reasons? It feels like another romance trope that is just shoe-horned in there because this is what romances are supposed to look like: mysterious hot guy, convoluted misunderstanding, etc etc conflict because conflict

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Originals: Season 5, Episode 10: There in the Disappearing Light




Klaus is trying to help his evil daughter Hope, deal with the evil darkness inside her. By slapping him around with magic


While I generally approve of this, it’s not enough because Hope is the only person in the world who doesn’t want to hurt Klaus. She wants to hurt Roman


Hey I’m all for hurting Nazis


Klaus grabs Roman and brings him back to the Originals mansion so she can torture him horribly to death. I’m all in favour of this. Bring on the Nazi torture! And then by killing him they will purge all the darkness inside her at least for a little while.


Elijah disapproves of this - he wants to get Vincent to help with Hope and her massive shadow problem but Vincent is, for once, far more involved in half of his coven being dead and all that and not the Mikkaelson’s endless drama.


Elijah is concerned that letting Hope torture someone to death may be deleterious to her innocence and all. Also Antoinette isn’t thrilled to hear that little brother is going to get all murdered. Waaaaah the poor kid.


Yeah can everyone please stop whining about this kid - this “kid” was around before world war 2. He’s a grown, adult, nazi. Not a child with mummy issues. Make with the killing already.


Hope begins zapping him and Nazi boy keeps whining about how his mother is totally dead as well and he didn’t know what he was doing with his naziness. Alas, Hope doesn’t want to kill him because she’s too nice which is a problem because she’s being consumed by darkness and evil and nasty whispering which is going to be bad


While Klaus doesn’t trust Elijah, thinking that he’s maybe adopted Antoinette’s viewpoints a bit too much and may not entirely be loyal to the Mikkaelsons any more. But he doesn’t have a great deal of choice in the matter.


Meanwhile Vincent is surprised by all the dead witches waking up again - because they’ve all been fed vampire blood and poison. Which means they can now drink blood and become vampires… which is not an easy choice, apparently. Well not for Ivy, we don’t really check in with the others. She was born a witch, intends to die a witch and has absolutely no intention in becoming a vampire especially since she’s had lots and lots of pretty visions of the afterlife which seems like a pretty nice place.


Unfortunately it’s all a lie. Vincent reveals the Afterlife is a terrible place where all the ancestors kind of hang around the well of power - because all that New Orleans ancestor magic is created by imprisoning the dead in a kind of limbo (ignore the numerous examples of Ancestors outright dictating to the living for the past 4 seasons). And he doesn’t want that for Ivy



So he gathers the witches together to tell them this thing they’ve been doing for generations is totally unjustified and wrong when it’s going to affect someone he loves. And they should really stop it… and everyone agrees. I mean we cut from Vincent making a big dramatic point about how unjust it is to everyone casting the spell to delete the well of power. Welp I guess he was very very very very convincing. This means Ivy can now shuffle off her mortal coil and hopefully whatever afterlife she ends up in will give her at least one plot line. I assume all the other vampire witches die as well. I guess? It’s not really explained.


Declan is getting all angsty and deciding to research his dead clergy relatives (they died back in season 1? Or possibly 2? Honestly I don’t care enough to click links to find out. They’re dead anyway) and Josh has to play supporter for a brief moment before actually flirting with a guy. Oh my gods the show remembered he was gay. Oh my gods the show remembered he has a life outside of serving others. And oh my god the show remembered Aidan who is dead… but only so Josh can push the other guy away. Yeah way to remember grief that had been forgotten for several seasons just so you can nip any possibility of a storyline with this guy


But it’s worse! Yep - this is for pathos. See Marcel has been lured into an ambush by the Nazi vampires and despite being super powerful awesome he’s easily captured because they have a witch and on this show the relative power of witches and vampires and originals all changes every 5 minutes depending on what the plot needs


Why does a witch want to capture Marcel and help the Nazi vampires establish vampire supremacy? Who even knows, it’s The Originals no-one’s motive has to make sense. Especially not nameless Black cannon foddder!


So the Nazi vampires are extracting Marcel’s hybrid venom because they think it can kill Hope - I mean, there’s absolutely no indication that a bullet won’t kill hope - but why not. Josh comes to the rescue, killing the nameless witch and allowing Marcel to slaughter the others. But Josh gets stabbed with a syringe of venom they just happened to have ready. In the heart.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Damnation Marked (Descent Series #4) by S.M. Reine




Elise has come through a lot in the last few years and is still reeling - but Reno is her territory and she’s determined to protect it

When a new dark threat rises from beneath, it may be beyond the limited resources she has left to deal with it… especially when she’s so alone. But is she ready to look to the Union for support?

And is this something the Union can deal with? Or can only Elise, the Godslayer, take down this threat? And at what cost?

I swear this series is my white whale. I read a book or two and then blink and S.M. Reine has written 8 squillion books in the same world and part of me thinks “no way can I catch up with them all” and then I’ll read another book in a different series and realise it’s in the same world and declare, that by Ahab’s ghost, I will tackle this whole series.

I imagine a lot of people are going to be very put off by Elise on account that she is pretty much a deeply unpleasant person. And at times for me I was frustrated - not by her exactly but by the people around her - like why are you hanging around this woman? She’s made of terrible and awful! Anthony, James - put some distance between you and her!

But I don’t dislike her. Her life has not been easy - including a lot of flashbacks this book which really bring home why she is called “the god killer” who she is, what her connection with the divine and infernal actually is and her rather terrible experiences because of it. We see her history and early days as a Kopis, and kopides with their high death rate and constant struggle against the various evils of the world.  We see her own activities in the past with James when she was much younger hunting terrible monsters.

And even then I kind of love how when hunting down a creature that is eating pigs and human babies she asks “why pigs”. James is all horrified “why babies!” is what he asks - but hey ALL big bad darknessess want to eat babies. It’s what they do. It really does show how even young Elise is thoroughly jaded and worn down by the life she leads. We even see this really nice

Throw in the recent death of Betty who wasn’t just her best friend but kind of the cornerstone of her humanity, the one who made Elise more than just a hunter and we have a wound right to her soul. It’s all really well done to produce a character who is, well, deeply unpleasant - but deeply unpleasant for powerful reasons that really make up her characters

And that isn’t lessened by the sometimes terrible things she has to do in this book coupled with just how utterly overwhelmed she is with the job of running Reno, protecting its inhabitants (including demons - which in itself is something that puts her at odds with not just other Kopides but even James as they can’t accept that chaos =/= evil) and protecting the holy gate.

Throw into this we have a lot of conflicts with the people in Elise’s life - whether that’s Anthony who is probably just too human to be in Elise’s life. Or there’s James who, because of their mystical bond, is just too close and she keeps pushing away (it’s also interesting in that James is built on to have so many more things in his own life as well, perhaps diverging his priorities from Elise and further making her unable to trust him). Her chaotic connection with Tom, a mysterious power who she certainly isn’t able to entirely trust - or even trust at all - and we have a character who is overwhelmed, facing impossible circumstances with little to no actual reliable support network from which to do anything about the dire threats that face her city