In the sixth chapter of Untold, THERE IT IS. THERE’S THE FIRST SOUL-CRUSHING PLOT TWIST IN A SARAH REES BRENNAN BOOK. Goddamn it, GODDAMN IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Untold.
Chapter Six: Faithless Blood
Okay, clearly, I have to talk about THE WORST THING THE VERY WORST THING, but there’s something else that must be discussed before we get there. As you’ll see in the video below, I was shocked (and pleased!) by getting a chapter from the point of view of Holly. Given her family’s connection to the terrible past of Sorry-in-the-Vale, I’ve wanted to see more of them, particularly how Holly’s life had changed in the wake of what had happened in the first book. While I’m certain now that this will be addressed, I didn’t expect Sarah Rees Brennan to delve into other aspects of Holly’s life.
So, I’ve spoken about my experience with poverty and being poor, though never in much detail. Admittedly, it’s a tender subject for me, and I think that will be the case for a while. It’s not an easy conversation to have. I’m bringing this up not to tell a story or offer some insight into my life, but to lend credence to what Brennan writes here. There are so many cues and subtle details in Holly’s house that all remind me of what it is like to be poor. My mother taught us not to waste food because there’d invariably come a day when we wouldn’t have that much. I spent a significant period of time in my teenage years convinced that my family was cursed. It didn’t help that many of my dad’s relatives were comfortably middle class or incredibly rich; that just made our own poverty seem that much worse.
I could see the signs of financial decay in our house. There was the broken window that had been patched with duct tape and cardboard. We had corners of the carpet that had come loose from the flooring and now frayed, a reminder that my parents could not afford to get new carpet. My bedroom was tiled with this hideous brown material that was more plastic than anything else, and it meant that the legs of the bedframe scraped and tore the tile up, leaving ragged fragments that we hide with longer sheets and blankets in case we had guests over.
So, I think you can imagine my reaction to reading a passage like this:
Holly looked around at their kitchen, the cracked flagstones, the ceiling with a black cloud pattern of soot in one corner and the brown mottle of rot in another. The Prescotts had stopped mattering years before Holly was born.
But Holly’s characterization is only partially based on her family’s place in Sorry-in-the-Vale history. Her mother is frustratingly critical of her daughter, which explains why Holly has self-esteem issues. It also gives us a reason for her behavior towards Kami and Angela. When you don’t believe you’re as beautiful and attractive as other people, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others, as Holly does here.
Of course, the surprise that chapter six hides is only going to make this worse. I cannot fucking believe I never considered that some of the main characters’ families would be part of Rob’s band of sorcerers. Just the sheer odds of it should have made me predict this, but I didn’t. I didn’t expect it, and IT HURTS SO MUCH. Holly’s whole family is gone, and the implications of that, given their history, is just so damning. But KAMI’S MOTHER? Oh my god, what the hell are you doing???
This is bad. THIS IS SO BAD.
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