In the nineteenth chapter of Deep Secret, Janine is the Literal Worst, and I understand A Thing for the first time, only to realize it is Extremely Disturbing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deep Secret.
- It’s fascinating to me that this chapter in particular has inspired to completely opposite reactions in me when faced with a different Mallory. I started out strongly disliking Janine Mallory, and not only was my dislike canonically validated by the text, IT ONLY GREW INTO AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING TERROR. Because holy shit, Janine is absolutely despicable, no bones about it. The way she teases Maree in the opening of this chapter – in front of Will and Rupert, knowing that they can’t do anything to her – is the perfect demonstration of why she’s awful. I can’t claim to fully understand the moral machinations of why she’s chosen to attempt to murder her own niece, but it’s not like anything she’s going to say would justify her treatment of Maree.
- And then we’ve got Nick. Now, I wouldn’t say that I disliked him earlier in the book, though I was critical of certain of his behaviors. He had a lot of potential to go either way for me, but it’s with this chapter that it feels like Diana Wynne Jones reinvents him. Maybe that’s the wrong word, but he just feels so different to me in light of what I now know about his upbringing and his love for Maree.
- Part of this is due to Rupert’s deliberate attempt to understand what the hell Nick must be feeling towards his own mother. We knew that he felt close to – and probably protected – Maree growing up, but now he has undeniable proof that his mother was willing to murder Maree for some confusing inheritance scheme. So he ducks into the elevator adjacent to the one his mother is in as quick as possible because he can’t even face her. What would he say? What would he do?
- Oh my god, NICK.
- This isn’t even the end to my feelings for this character. THERE’S A MUCH BIGGER EXPLOSION COMING LATER OH MY GOD.
- I also have something to say for how magical the Bablyon poem is because I UNDERSTAND IT NOW AND EVERYTHING HURTS.
- Wait, did I already say that Janine is the Literal Worst? I forgot to include the part where she used the bush-goddess to try and kill her niece AGAIN. Actually, Janine had planted that goddess’s presence in Maree’s computer WAY BEFORE THIS POINT. Oh my god, what does Janine get out of this? Why kill her niece????
- “Somehow it angered me particularly to see them attacking the evidently loved teddy bear.” The emotional growth and vulnerability of Rupert is the BEST THING, especially since his growth is largely about his acceptance of Maree. Also, it’s of note that he keeps taking on so many things, and while he’s open about how exhausted he is, he doesn’t blame this on Maree. If anything, he’s eager to help her out more than ever.
- The physicality of the magical system within the Deep Secret world is just so impressive, y’all, and I haven’t brought it up in a while. But in this chapter, Will very physically scoops out the foul sigil from Rupert’s door, and it actually leaves a “smooth rounded hollow” in the door. It’s so fascinating to me that the magic is this tangible thing here, instead of some ethereal object.
- And then this book also contains an entire section where Will and Rupert tease a centaur about what it can eat. I love that it goes from complicated worldbuilding to absurd humor in the span of a couple of pages.
- The same goes for the POOR HOTEL STAFF. Look, I know cons can be very stressful for hotel staffs, and SF/F cons are particularly strange experiences for them, but this SPECIFIC PhantasmaCon has to be the worst experience ever for them.
- All right, let’s get to the meat of this chapter, which is Rupert learning just how right he is about his operating theory to explain everything. This involves Rob being unable to lie to Rupert because Rupert says he’s only allowed to use a single word to answer his questions. CLEVER, RUPE.
- I at least understand how Nick ended up in Rupert’s car now. Rob came for Maree, not Rupert, and Nick just refused to stay behind, so he snuck along.
- and then
- and then it
- ugh i WAS NOWHERE NEAR THE TRUTH THIS WHOLE TIME.
- “My Uncle Knarros adopted Nick’s mother as his sister.”
- WHAT THE HOLY FUCK.
- “She was born in Thalangia.”
- HOW IS THIS A THING THAT HAPPENED
- I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A THOUSAND THINGS ABOUT JANINE.
- HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT PARALLEL UNIVERSES AND MAGIC AND CENTAURS AND END UP AS JANINE.
- SHE IS LIKE THE WORST-CASE-SCENARIO FOR EXPOSING PEOPLE TO SUPERNATURAL SHIT OR SOMETHING. You might end up like Janine.
- Also, I know I barely had a grasp on the whole stripping thing, but I’m glad that this chapter cleared things up for me. You know, sometimes I think I wouldn’t have such a hard time figuring things out if I wasn’t doing this publicly. I doubt my own theories a lot more than you think! That’s only because I am so utterly wrong all of the time.
- quack chicks QUACK CHICKS. Thank you for not forgetting about them.
- QUACK CHICKS REVITALIZING MAREE MALLORY = MY LIFE
- So, the road to Babylon. I got chills reading this, y’all, and I think it’s going to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever read. We’ve gotten clues along the way about what Babylon would be, and we’ve gotten pieces of the Babylon verse, but it never really made much sense. To finally understand it in a very visual way was remarkably touching to me, though I think that has to do more with the emotional potential rather than the reveal itself. It is super satisfying to understand the verse, but knowing what Maree and Nick are going to have to do is a whole lot more rewarding to me.
- Oh god, I’m re-reading the section where Rupert roughly explains what Nick has to do, and he was lying. “I can’t tell you much about the journey, because nobody knows much.” WELL, YOU A LOT MORE THAN YOU TOLD NICK. OH MY GOD.
- I don’t even have an inkling where this books is going to go from here. Will we switch to Nick or Maree’s point of view? Are we going to experience the road to Babylon, or will we stay with Rupert? What is Nick going to ask for at the end of the road?
- Of course, these are all just minor inconveniences compared to the two bigger issues brought up by the Babylon verses. When Rupert begins to recite them, he reveals that it is SEVENTY GODDAMN MILES TO BABYLON. Somehow – somehow!!! – Nick has to guide Maree seventy miles to Babylon and seventy miles back in the span of THREE HOURS. I’m guessing that time doesn’t pass the same in this plane of existence as it does here on Earth, but STILL. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??? The other verses – the ones I didn’t understand before – are now given context. I understand all the references to candle-light; you’re only allowed to travel to babylon three times; it exists in a plan “outside of here and there”; Maree and Nick will have to cross a bridge and climb a hill before they arrive; the road will be “as hard as grief or greed.”
- But this is child’s play. Nothing, insignificant. It pales in comparison to what the final verse reveals, which Rupert says just as Nick is out of earshot: “How long is the way to Babylon? / Three score years and ten. / Many have gone to Babylon / But few come back again.”
- IT’S GOING TO TAKE THEM SEVENTY YEARS TO GET TO BABYLON.
- which ostensibly means it’ll take 140 years roundtrip. That’s an average of a MILE EVERY YEAR.
- Oh, surprise, Rob is also a mage.
- I’m so done with this book.
The original text uses the word “mad.”
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