Mark Reads ‘Untold’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of Untold, Kami gains an ally just as Ash learns that he has none. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Untold.

Chapter Two: The Heir of Aurimere

Well, that was depressing.

Initially, that’s not the case. Kami comes clean about what’s really happening in Sorry-in-the-Vale to Rusty, who takes it all in stride. I kind of have a thing for scenes like this in stories that deal with hidden supernatural or fantasy worlds, where the characters who know the big secret to the world have to introduce others to a hidden universe. Can I make another The X-Files reference? Why should I even ask? Of course I’m going to. It’s one of the most engaging features of that show, especially since it’s essentially a show where Mulder consistently introduces Scully to the weirdness of the role. (And, spoiler for later seasons, but vg’f gur znva ernfba V pna trg cnfg gur zvffgrcf va frnfba rvtug, fvapr Fphyyl zhfg fhqqrayl fjvgpu ebyrf naq orpbzr gur oryvrire, naq vg’f fb shpxvat nznmvat gb jngpu.)

I didn’t really expect that Rusty would react poorly to what Kami was telling him. Hell, I imagine it was actually kind of relieving to have all the gaps filled in, especially concerning all the bizarre behavior in the past few months. But I also think that this whole opening segment is about establishing just what a good friend Rusty is to Kami. He was consistently there for her and the others when Kami needed him in the last book, and he doesn’t change that here. That’s what a good friend is all about. Unconditional support. Rusty chooses to believe Kami’s story not because he has to, or because it’s what he needs. He believe Kami because he is a good friend.

And at the very least, this chapter also establishes that Angela and Holly are on Kami’s side, too, and it’s comforting. It’s comforting to know that for the time being, these four people can stick together amidst the chaos and terror that is sure to settle into Sorry-in-the-Vale.

I think it’s intentional, then, that this is followed by Sarah Rees Brennan changing the narrative focus to Ash’s point of view, which is one we didn’t get that often in Unspoken. Here, it serves to explain just the sort of mental state that Ash is in after the tumultuous and horrifying end to the last book. Ash went from a world of security and promises to one of uncertainty and loneliness:

It struck Ash as almost unbearable strange sometimes that they were in Aurimere at last. For his whole childhood, it had been the promised land, the one thing his mother and father agreed on. He’d known that once they found Aunt Rosalind, they were going home. Where he belonged, where they all belonged, where they would never suffer again. “Our house,” his parents had called it. “Our town.”

But that’s not what it is to Ash anymore, is it? Ash used to be more comfortable with his family, with the fact that he was a sorcerer, with the idea that he was better than people who were not magical. And how much of that has been destroyed? The house itself doesn’t even mean the same thing it once did, you know? What we get here is a portrait of a son torn between his two parents, their two diametrically opposed views as Lynbruns, and his desire to please them. It’s a brutal thing to want to have your parents validate you, but knowing that in order to do that, you’ll have to disappoint the other one.

In Ash’s case, however, his actions in Unspoken have left him without either parent and, even worse, with the possibility that he won’t even have Aurimere house at the end of this. His father despises him for being, in his view, a coward who wouldn’t do what was required of him. His mother sees him as a coward, too, but for an entirely different reason. And yet, neither parent has any idea what they’re doing to their son. What is he supposed to do when both of his parents are yanking him in their direction? What is he supposed to do when he’s grown up with conflicting messages about his self-worth, his role in the family, and his ultimate path as a human? And how is he supposed to cope with the fact that his own cousin is most likely going to take away the only dream he ever had and do so with a smile on his face?

He ran down the path into the dark woods, until he could no longer see the lit windows of the manor on the hill. Then he sat at the foot of a tree, head in his hands, and wept.

I think Brennan does a fine job of acknowledging that Ash wasn’t necessarily an innocent party in the last book, but I adore that she gives us a glimpse into his life. It helps explain his motivations as a character, and to me, that matters. He’s in a raw and vulnerable space in his life, and I think that’s going to be important for the future. How is he going to deal with this sense of disappointment? It’s not lost on me that he is alone, too, like Kami, like the team are alone among the citizens of Sorry-in-the-Vale. It looks like that sort of separation and disassociation is going to be a big part of Untold, and I am all here for that.

Please note that the words “lunatic” and “crazy” appear in the original text and today’s video.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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