Mark Reads ‘Deep Secret’: Chapter 23

In the twenty-third chapter of Deep Secret, ALL OF THIS HAPPENED. AND I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deep Secret.

Chapter Twenty-Three

  • MY HEART IS STILL RACING AFTER THAT EXPERIENCE. Holy shit, y’all, this is really happening.
  • So, there are a few things to discuss before we get to the most unreal, terrifying scene in this whole book. (!!!!! I’M STILL REELING !!!!!) Namely, I was wrong about Nick and Maree not exhibiting any physical effects of traveling to Babylon. While they didn’t age seventy years in that place, they did grow. It seems that a few years passed while they were in Babylon, which is a frightening thought in and of itself. It also becoming apparent that Jones isn’t going to reveal what happened when Nick, Maree, and Rob traveled to Babylon and back, and perhaps that will become their own deep secret of sorts. I’m selfish, and I would like to know, but I think it would difficult to show that at this point in the book. There’s a lot left to resolve in the remaining two chapters, and honestly, I don’t think it’s something you could summarize quickly. Still, I’m curious. Why was Maree so far behind Nick on the way out of Babylon?
  • Maree’s dad had his cancer cured. It’s all real. HOLY SHIT. Not that I doubted it! Clearly it was because Maree wasn’t dead.
  • However, there was still a huge problem left unresolved at this point: How the hell was Rupert going to get Dakros to back down? How could he prevent Nick from become the Emperor of a failed Empire? How could he keep Janine and Gram away from Maree? I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS CAN BE RESOLVED.
  • That being said, I thought it was incredibly sweet that amidst all this horror (and after whatever Maree experienced in Babylon), Maree still wanted to make sure that she saw all of Ted Mallory’s final speech. She deserves so much more than she gets, y’all.
  • So does Zinka, who seems to have navigated nearly every crisis Rupert and Will have come up against without much effort on her part. She’s definitely someone you want as your ally.
  • Closing ceremony. oh
  • oh god
  • Let me first explain one of my favorite things: When fantastical worlds intersect with our real world, and whatever happens HAPPENS IN VERY PUBLIC PLACES. It’s one of the most fascinating things to see an author deal with because there are so many ways you can take such a story. And look, we’ve all read a ton of sci-fi and fantasy where only the Super Special narrator can see the magical world. (Which isn’t meant as an insult to those stories, because lord knows I love a great deal of them.) It seems so much more exciting to me when these absurd things happen out in the open. It’s why I loved Cloverfield so much despite it admittedly being a gimmicky film. It’s why I love a lot of the stuff with the Dursleys in the final two books of the Harry Potter series. AND IT’S WHY WHAT HAPPENS HERE IS SO SHOCKING AND TERRIFYING. Because there are now people in that room who saw magic and goddesses and OH MY GOD.
  • Just… fuck, I should have known this was going to erupt into a disaster as soon as Janine was bold enough to confront Maree so openly. Lord, what a scene. And I love that Maree very simply tells Janine that she went to Babylon, and that Janine should never try to do “anything like that” again. MAREE. STANDING UP TO JANINE. God, I love it.
  • “I never did want to spoil his chances,” Maree said. “I just want to make sure that you don’t.” MAREE, STANDING UP FOR NICK. IT’S TOO MUCH.
  • So, one of the primary forms of tension in this chapter comes from the fact that waves of hateful magic are passing over Rupert, and he has to fight it off without drawing any attention to himself. It’s not like he can just stand up and start having a massive magic battle with the people who are trying to destroy him! (Which is precisely why when this does happen, I just lost my shit. It’s so ridiculous, y’all.)
  • But I think that this scene is so effective because of Jones’s worldbuilding. We know that Gram has a geas laid on him, so when Rupert sees him standing off to the side, smiling, NOTHING MAKES SENSE. He can’t even organize other people to use magic for him? So how did he get around it?????
  • There are no coincidences in Deep Secret.
  • So I do have to admit that what Gram White does is kind of brilliant. He seeks out all the potential Magids, all of whom have the potential for wielding magic, and he lies to them. He deceives them all so that they technically aren’t being organized to use magic on his behalf. They make their own choice to go after him. Not only that, be he exploits the con’s own creativity so that people like Kornelius Punt think they’re playing a game.
  • (There’s a biting commentary on cultural appropriation in there that I’m totally imagining and know is unintended, but now I can’t unsee it. Punt participates in a ritual because he admires it and thinks it’s cool, but he doesn’t realize what the actual context of it is, and it’s actually physically hurting Rupert.)
  • AND OF COURSE, MERVIN THURLESS WAS THE LEADER OF THE HOODED PEOPLE. OF COURSE. I’ll quote Rupert here: “I suppose I should have expected that, I thought ruefully.” I really should have done so myself.
  • There are a couple things here that I found super funny, like Gabrilosevic’s too-small costume. But nothing was funnier to me than the fact that solution to this all was to just leave the room. Granted, Janine ends up refusing to let this happen, but I loved Will’s outburst. He said it in a way that was as if he was shouting, “GODDAMN IT, IT’S SO OBVIOUS RUPERT. JUST LEAVE.”
  • Of course, the leaving doesn’t happen, because Janine risks everything – a clear sign of her own desperation – to summon the bush goddess, Aglaia-Ualaia. I think that I was wrong to propose that she was actually the goddess herself. Given how this episode ends, I’m of the mind that she just summoned her presence here to block these four from leaving.
  • I can’t deny how scary and claustrophobic this final confrontation is. The four of them are using practically all of their magic just to keep the protective dome over them, so it’s not like they had the energy for an offensive attack on Janine or the men dressed as knights. Then the thorns pierced Maxim’s arm and I WAS SO HORRIFIED BY EVERYTHING. I know that Rupert mentioned that plenty of people in the room had left during the bizarre manifestations of the magical battle, but who else is witnessing this?
  • Unfortunately, IT DOESN’T WORK AS WELL AS THEY NEED IT TO. So yeah, you can count me as utterly surprised that right at the last minute, all of Janine’s thorns burst into flames because SHE WAS SHOT IN THE FACE BY AN EMPIRE BEAM-GUN.
  • Did Dakros show up???? WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED???

The original text contains the words “mad” and “crazy.”

Video 1

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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