Part 8: Not So Living But Not Yet Dead


We’re over with the All Knowing and Eos and Xanthippe are talking about stuff. It’s a little confusing, and would probably still be confusing even if the missing words were there.

“Make mind,” Xanthippe said powerfully, not allowing his own emotions to take control of his voice for my. “That the persons who have survived these trying times must never speak of the sights of this disaster, happening, or even we, the Angels. We must not exist to these new children until the time is dire once more.” (loc. 2272)

That is exactly as it’s written.

Anyway, Xanthippe may have done something bad so he has Media the bubbly time traveler seal him in a tomb? And also the Japanese twins are there.

Over to Lady Rowan, who seems to know something about what is going on, so she writers a letter to an old friend named Zosime. After a bit Zosime shows up. She has velvet black hair and vibrant aquamarine eyes. We move to Zosime’s POV. They chat about a “dark book”, and that someone named Fell Nerr Zu San Vech has been resurrected through the blood of Non. I am so incredibly confused right now. We don’t know who any of these people are or what they want and Breanna is name-dropping new individuals so fast I can’t even keep track of the different factions here. This is why it’s handy to have a character in the plot who is new to situations so they can figure things out along with the audience, or, you know, just drop into an authorial aside and spell things out.

They have tea and talk and decide to go to a weapons shop in Dibujar.

Over to Blair’s mom who realizes that Blair has become an Elf. See, when young women transform into Elves, they release a lot of energy, which the book helpfully tells us is “unexplainable”. You could just say it involves a burst of magic which can be sensed by many creatures? Anyway:

Filthy creatures will be swarming from all corners of the region, attracted by her sweet aroma (loc. 2371).

So…are they attracted by the burst of energy or the fact that Blair smells like crushed pine needles?

Blair’s mom is worried:

Perhaps it may had been more effective to have had told her as a child what she would become (loc. 2374).


Over to Blair, who is back to Blair even though she was just Harlow. She is filled with angst. She shouts “why” and beats on Roswell’s bloody chest and eventually she becomes calm. She packs up all their supplies and attaches their four K-weapons to her “hilt” which doesn’t make any sense, maybe it’s supposed to say belt? Then we get this:

As I left the tent, I peered over at Roswell’s bloody corpse askew by the feline beast that slew him with a certain abhorrence and without thought or effort I uttered fiercely with no real motive, no notion (loc. 2387).

That sentence is just…awful.

The word Blair says is “equin” even though she doesn’t know what it means, but it makes the bodies burst into flame, because she can do magic now, see? I’m really not a fan of characters getting awesome magical powers without even studying and being able to use these powers without knowing what to do or what words to say. It’s narratively and dramatically unsatisfying, and it gives the character the ability to deus ex machina their way out of any situation. Why should we be worried about Blair when we know her magical powers could randomly kick in at any moment?

We jump to Darian who is still hallucinating and still talking in baby talk for reasons that aren’t clear. He arrives in Trabajador and gets into a fight with a big troll man and punches a hole in the troll’s chest. Seriously. Apparently Darian has superpowers now. Darian gets a vile (I think it’s supposed to be a vial) and fills it with troll’s blood, which is good for healing. Okay.

Many eyes watch us as we’s step to the bench and we’s pick up buck weed powder and put some in, then molasses and ginger root juice then put the glass to we’s lips and drank every drop that we’s could get. The bitter juice dribbled down we’s mouth (page 2404).

God this is annoying.

Darian picks up a nearby scythe and whirls around chopping the heads off a bunch of innocent bystanders for no reason. People run but he murders them all. Then some hooded figures come up and beat him up and then they vanish. Okay. This storyline is incredibly compelling.

Over to Blair’s mom, Nani Anne, who arrives in Trabajador and follows the trail of corpses to Darian, who is still tripping balls. She explains that he can’t have “pretty baby Harly” because…well, Blair is his sister.


Nani Anne explains:

“I am an Elf from Yelle Yaxle. I knew I needed a daughter to assume the throne. So when you were born, I claimed miscarriage and gave you away. I am sorry, but I had to. When I had Harlow, I had to ensure that the two of you could be married and before you could consummate the marriage, I would take you away and tell you of your relation and we would return to Yelle Yaxle to rightfully rule.” (loc. 2435)

Okay. I’ll accept that she needs a daughter for some reason. Why did she have to give Darian away? Is she not allowed to have a male child, or more than one kid? And why the fuck does she need them to get married and then intervene before they can bump uglies? This doesn’t make sense.

Darian doesn’t believe her and attacks. Nani Anne picks up a bat and smashes his face in. Darian goes flying, blood spraying everywhere, picks himself up, snaps his broken nose back into place, and attacks again. Jesus fucking Christ. Where did these characters get their superpowers?

They fight for a bit and eventually Nani Anne grabs the scythe away from Darian with her feet, because she has opposable toes. Darian says that she will die now at the hands of the King of Elves. Okay…I guess that is supposed to be him?

He pointed his palms at me, fingers up-pointed. The skin opened and two sharp projectile blades came flying out (loc. 2458).

Okay. So Darian has Wolverine-esque dartguns inside his hands. That…makes sense.

They hit Nani Anne and she sinks dramatically to the ground and dies while narrating that she is now dead.

Over to Hippolyte, who has a wacky speech impediment where she can’t say “d” or “th” and so her speech is full of dozens of apostrophes. I’m not joking.

Fortunately, I ha’ a power ‘at I coul’ use in my a’vantage. I coul’ easily alter the aci’ity of any li’ui’ wi’ a single tou’h (loc. 2466).

It makes reading this section very enjoyable. Fortunately, nothing happens.

Over to Roswell, who is not fucking dead. Goddamnit. He runs around trying to find the light and talking to a disembodied voice, who explains where he is:

“You are in the realm of the Not So Living But the Not Yet Dead (loc. 2502)

He’s given a choice to pass into the afterlife or fight to regain his human body which Blair set on fire so hopefully if he survives he gets a new body or he might be actually very much dead. Roswell chooses to fight. The voice peaces out. Roswell walks along and after a bit an enormous axe swings out, which he dodges.

After a bit he comes to a dead end. Roswell tries to break through to no avail while he hears Blair’s voice screaming for help. He repeatedly tries to smash his way through the wall, breaking many of his bones. Then he notices a staircase that’s right there. If only he’d looked maybe two feet to the right he would have seen it and not practically killed himself.

I’m getting the feeling that Roswell isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Turns out it’s just an illusion of her voice.

Next he meets a talking cat who says he can only pass if he can correctly answer six riddles. Roswell breezes through the riddles without any problem because, well, werewolves are great at riddles! Also none of them are particularly challenging. The last one is this one:



Which I hate, but more to the point, how do these characters in this mystical place know what the English language even is?

We hop skip and a jump over to Jafar, who is experiencing…changes.

I felt less hate toward Harlow as each moment passed, but my desire to find her never once faltered. I began to feel something I had never experienced before, a foreign emotion to which I did not have a name, perhaps it was remorse or even love if I could bring myself to admit it (loc. 2671).


Why is Jafar changing? It’s pretty well-established that Jafar is, and has been throughout his entire life, a giant festering douchebag. He is not a nice or a good person; he cares nothing for the feelings of others. He’s a self-absorbed delusional asshole.

And, generally speaking, people who are like that do not change overnight. Change is slow, even change that is prompted by some dramatic, traumatic, or otherwise life-changing event. I’m not buying this change. Nothing has happened that would prompt it, and we haven’t spent any time with Jafar to actually understand why his character has changed.

This complete lack of character development is a common theme running through the novel, which isn’t surprising, considering the age of the author when it was written. Character development can be difficult, and it’s not readily apparent to young writers. But it’s absolutely critical, and it is what separates boring, cardboard novels from books that stick with you, books that you love.

Jafar wanders around Namaki City and who should he run into but…Harlow. Yes, Harlow, who we last left in the middle of the forest some distance away and now the two people just happen to randomly run into each other in the middle of a city, because that’s plausible. She’s visibly pregnant. Jafar leads her over to a nearby tavern and Harlow doesn’t resist because…well, no reason, really.

“I am sorry, Harlow. Really truly sorry and do not ask that you ever forgive me, for I would not forgive myself.”

“No, I will, I must forgive you, because I have nothing.” (loc. 2687)


She tells him that it’s his baby. He is delighted and pulls her into an embrace. Harlow asks if he’s angry. He says no and kisses her [!]. She pushes him away and says “Not yet.” Wait, what the fuck do you mean, not yet? That implies that at some point in the future you’re seriously considering getting back together with this murdering raping sack of rat guts and cat vomit?

We move to the All Knowing. Lyssandra Besscati, is 19, pregnant, and her husband Tony has been unfaithful to her with the mayor Leroy Jenkins, who is a man and that is strange because homosexuality is strange? She answers the door and there’s a guy with a gun so she throws up a shield and he fires and the bullet rebounds and hits him in the shoulder and then she accidentally lets the shield slip for a second during which he shoots again and hits her in the belly and she loses the baby and wakes up some time later and there are hooded figures who ask her to join them so she says ok.

Back to Harlow who is explaining her life story to Jafar.

As much as I disliked Jafar, I could see that he was somehow different now. I thought perhaps he may deserve a second chance, because everyone does and after all, he was the father of my child (loc. 2727).

Here is a general life tip for all you writers: don’t write about people getting raped and then getting over it and being friendly, or worse, falling in love with their rapist.

I know Stockholm Syndrome exists. I know there are examples. I know emotions and the human mind are complicated, nonsensical things, and weirder and stranger things have happened. It doesn’t matter. Don’t do it. There is no point. Nothing good can be accomplished through it. Anything you are trying to achieve can be achieved in other, better ways, ways that do not perpetuate a horrifically offensive and insensitive way of thinking, and that does not minimize the incredibly real pain that too many people feel.

Breeanna, I hope this plot point doesn’t exist in the newer version of your novel. If it does, eliminate it entirely.

So they talk. Jafar promises to serve her and that he will not bring her any harm. He admits that he’s lived an awful life and wants to change. Harlow doesn’t want to live in the castle. Jafar explains there’s some land near the mountains and he can get gold from his father to buy the land and build a house where they can live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Harlow asks “we?” Jafar says that they’ll have separate sleeping quarters, course, but that way he can be the father of her baby. Harlow doesn’t have a problem with this but doesn’t want to settle down just yet before she finds the other Elves and figures out what being an Elf entails. Jafar agrees and asks if it’s fine if he comes along with her. Harlow says okay, so Jafar goes to get them rooms for the night. Harlow watches.

With his newly found personality, he might actually turn out to be, dare I say it, almost charming (loc. 2765).

Drinks: just finish the bottle.


  11 Responses to “Part 8: Not So Living But Not Yet Dead”

  1. I don’t mind reading about abusive relationships or Stockholm Syndrome, but it’s awfully difficult to write and requires tremendous skill. Breeanna, obviously, doesn’t have it.

    Also, LOL, Leroy Jenkins…

  2. I appreciate the subtle Eragon reference (smells like crushed pine needles… heh).
    Watch out for LEEEEEEEROY JENKINNNNNNS!!!!!!

  3. There is some Bulwer-Lytton-worthy material here! 🙂

  4. Leroy fuckin Jenkins. Where the fuck is my drink? No, wait. This part requires some high end weed. I admit I glanced over most of this book as I read it, it was just horrendous, I must have missed poor Leroy. First he gets humped by dragonlings, now this…

  5. Dibujar and Trabajador? To draw and to work in Spanish? Those are possibly the most nonsensical city names I’ve ever seen.

  6. I was thinking the same thing. Did she just pull words out of a Spanish dictionary and didn’t think anyone would notice?

  7. Actually, the original thinking was that Dibujar was a creative and artistic city ie the drawing aspect, and Trabajador is more a working town. That being said, I did change the names for my rewrite.

  8. Ah, okay. A bit better knowing that it was intentional. Calling them the words for “to draw” and “worker” was still kind of weird, though. Changing the names is a good move, and it’s cool that you’re going back and changing things to make it better. Mark of a dedicated writer. (though I am still curious, why the use of “zapato” as a time unit?)

  9. Nope, that one just sounded cool. Also changed though. I went straight up day/month/year time system though.

  10. Well at least he’s not chicken.

  11. I read this shortly after getting my Leeroy Jenkins card in Hearthstone. I am so loving it.