In the sixteenth part of Bloodhound, Beka has a very physical night out that only proceeds to complicate her investigation even further. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Oh god, do I have to suspect any of these people might be involved in the colemongering? OF COURSE I DO. I can’t believe I predicted that Beka would have to balance her romantic life with her Dog life over Rosto. NOPE. IT’S GONNA BE DALE ROWAN. So close? AND YET SO FAR AT THE SAME TIME.
This is an incredibly dense section, as there’s a lot of dialogue that reveals SO MUCH and it all hurts and it’s all dedicated solely for making me squirm for y’all’s enjoyment, so let’s just do it. WHY ARE ALL THINGS WRITTEN JUST TO RUIN ME?
(just kidding nothing is)
(wait oh my god what is some author or one of you is writing something specifically to ruin me and it’s part of some elaborate plan THIS IS GETTING TOO DEEP.)
The bulk of this section builds up the physical relationship between Beka and Dale, believably so, and then drops us (including Beka) into a giant vat of doubt and suspicion, and holy shit, it’s so good. But what’s important to me is that this is unconnected to Beka’s exploration of her sexuality. This isn’t a punishment for her being sexual or wanting Dale. In fact, Pierce repeatedly keeps Beka aware that her growing relationship with Dale is risky, that it’s entirely possible that she’s going to have a very uncomfortable reality to deal with. (Well, Beka is also preparing herself with a magical contraceptive, which makes my heart flutter because WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT CONTRACEPTIVES IN YA FICTION OFTEN AND I AM SO HAPPY. You have to understand: I grew up in an area where all photos of contraceptives and how to use them were literally cut out of our health books, and teachers weren’t allowed to instruct us on how to use them. I didn’t find out how to properly use one until I was in college. COLLEGE.)
I do admit that at times, Dale makes me uncomfortable, though I think it’s more of a personal thing than like… something problematic? I just bristle whenever someone aggressively flirts with or pursues someone because I’m very particular about affection and who I receive it from. I mean, Pierce certainly includes a lot of physical signs and body language from Beka that indicate she’s fine with what Dale does, but when you combine this with Dale’s possible part in this colemongering mystery, I FEEL WEIRD ABOUT HIM. But how about that gift???
The front was set with three small, clear oval stones. They’d been invisible outside, but here, in the lamp- and torchlight, they sparked in different colors. Two held darts and chips of blue and light purple fire. The middle one, the whitest, held dots and sparks of pink, orange, and yellow light deep inside it.
So… that’s a really expensive gift, one that’s openly confirmed as one. And multiple characters also ensure that it’s customary to receive something like this for giving a gambler good luck, but… maybe not? Look, there are multiple things at work here in terms of my perception that I’ll just come right out and say. I am already trying to be more aware than usual about the true motivations of the characters after the colossally embarrassing (and wildly entertaining) mishaps that were the Trickster series and Terrier. Like, never have I been so continually embarrassed on this site ever, so I’m trying to pick apart these details and figure out what’s going. Add to this the doubt Pierce gives because of this:
“[Dale] reworked part of the banking laws while he worked for the Goldsmith’s Guild as a clerk –”
and I am a mess. I AM DISTRUSTING EVERYTHING. Granted, Beka is clever enough to realize that Hanse, Dale, and many of their cohorts are all possible credible suspects, and I think it’s one way to temper her romantic feelings for Dale. So it’s not like Beka is blissfully enjoying Dale’s touch without any sort of analysis. Like she tells Dale earlier in this section, she cannot separate the Dog part of her from her identity. It’s impossible. So even while she might be temporarily swept up in the excitement of Dale’s touch, she’s not losing sight of her job.
And then there’s Pearl Skinner, who somehow got even more money to adorn more of her teeth with pearls. Consider this and the gossip Beka overhears near the privies, and it’s clear that this particular Rogue is up to a lot more than what a regular Rogue does. BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??? And what the fuck are all her vague threats to Nestor about? Look, you are being cruel to me, and it’s deeply unfair. So something happened with a past partner of Nestor’s? Either a Dog, or a romantic partner, or both? I DON’T GET IT. And it’s been mentioned multiple times in this book, but never in any great detail. DAMN IT.
I suppose one of the things that fascinates me about this series (and this book in particular) is that so much of the information passed along to Beka or through her is gossip, hearsay, and rumors, at least in the initial parts of the investigation. That was definitely the case in Terrier, but now that she and Goodwin are in a place that’s largely unfamiliar to them (especially Beka), they don’t have nearly as many dependable sources of information as they used to. Pounce isn’t around. (SADFACE FOREVER.) Beka can’t rely on Rosto or Kora or Aniki. She only knows Slapper, and the rest of the Port Caynn pigeons don’t trust her yet. She doesn’t have the advantage of being known by people in the Lower City, people who trust her or have relied on her before. She doesn’t have someone like Tansy in her life here in Port Caynn either. That’s not to discount Goodwin’s presence and abilities, or to suggest that Nestor and Okha aren’t wonderful friends and valuable resources, too! They absolutely are, but there’s less that Beka has at her disposal. Realizing that helps me understand her choices and it helps me understand the worldbuilding here. Beka’s scene in the privies, where she (sort of) pretends to be an innocent, ignorant mot who is just asking if they should go to the Dogs or the Rogue is something that would have seemed weird in Terrier. It’s not her best effort or her best idea, but she’s got to work with what she has, you know?
Oh god, let’s make this more complicated. WHAT JOB DOES PEARL WANT HANSE TO DO? AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT THAT HE HAS TO CANCEL AN EXISTING JOB JUST TO DO IT FOR HER? How can this possibly end well, y’all? I don’t trust this! I definitely don’t trust her, and as much as I enjoy Hanse as a character, I kind of have to distrust him, too.
I like that Beka is questioning all of this, too. I really do. I’m glad she gets to explore her own joys and desires amidst this, even if it is confusing at times. I can tell she’s close to something, but what that something is? I imagine Pearl Skinner is the key to it somehow. IF ONLY SHE HAD A WAY TO GET IN THE COURT OF THE ROGUE.
Echoing some similar comments from last week, I do think the way the text doesn’t really make Okha’s gender or preferred name/pronouns at all clear is distracting. I’m fairly sure you shouldn’t ever call someone by BOTH names (like Okha-Amber) unless you’re asked to, so I do wish the text was more direct on this.
The original text contains use of the word “mad.”
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