Mark Reads ‘Street Magic’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of Street Magic, Briar meets Lady Zenadia. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

Oh, gods, THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE. There was a genuine moment there where I believed that I had misread Briar, that it was possible for someone like Zenadia to con him. I’m thrilled that I was correct, but OH MY GOD, THIS CHAPTER.

Let’s back up, first. I loved the glimpse into Briar’s routine that was separate from all of the drama and intrigue going on with Evvy and the gangs. Truthfully, Briar does still have to find a way to make money for himself, and it’s so amusing to know that his magical ability can allow him to earn a living off the rich and the powerful. I’ve said this before (mostly in the videos), but it’s so fascinating to see bits of Briar’s foster-sisters in his work. As much as he likes to play off himself as this tough, macho guy, he’s really not. He’s sensitive and highly emotional, and he also deeply respects what Sandry, Tris, and Daja have done for him. 

I do not think Briar could have manipulated Zenadia back if it weren’t for Daja and Sandry. His sense for the sale most likely comes from Daja. (Though I now suspect, due to an earlier comment of his, that Tris has something to do with that, too!) But his manners? That’s all Sandry. He is certainly savvy about the marketplace, and I don’t want to deny that. Briar’s whole thing is street smarts, you know? That includes knowledge of how to make a sale. Yet I think it’s important to examine how the time spent in Discipline affected the four main characters, and I see it all over Briar’s actions in this chapter. 

I also wanted to sob about this.

Evvy jumped down from the stool gleefully and accepted the cups. “I like being here with you,” she told Briar. “We’re practically respectable and all.” She trotted away, a cup hanging from each index finger. 

Like, this kind of friendliness is all well and good, quite typical of the kind of dynamic we’ve seen in Pierce’s work, but it’s coming from Evvy. That is what makes this seem so significant. Has Evvy ever considered another person as a friend? I don’t think so, and it’s so rewarding to see her blossom in her relationship with Briar. That includes the subtle ways in which they interact once Lady Zenadia shows up and tries to buy Evvy.

We need to talk about Lady Zenadia because Y’ALL:

She was veiled from nose to chin, but judging by the lines around her large, well-made-up eyes, she was older, in her fifties or thereabouts.



I THOUGHT SHE WAS SIGNIFICANTLY YOUNGER THAN THIS. LIKE HALF THAT. LIKE MAYBE TEN YEARS OLDER THAN THE KIDS THAT SHE WAS EXPLOITING. I mean, all the signs should have told me this wasn’t the case? I don’t know, my brain just didn’t interpret all the CLEARLY DEFINED DETAILS in the correct manner, so this messed me up. The age differential doesn’t necessarily matter because Lady Zenadia is terrible as a whole, but the idea that someone who has 30+ years on these kids is ruthlessly exploiting them… well, it just feels all the more despicable.

So I’m THRILLED that despite how close this shit got, Briar’s instinct kicked in and he prevented Zenadia from getting close to Evvy. I mean, she seriously laid her charm on thick with Briar, and since he had no idea who she was, it made this UNBEARABLE TO READ. Obviously, Pierce knew that this was the case, so she had Evvy appear with Douna and Mai right at the height of the sale so that we would squirm. AND THEN ZENADIA STARTS INSPECTING EVVY AND PRETENDING THAT SHE DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT HER STONE MAGIC AND MAKE IT STOP, THIS IS SO BAD. 

I was so thankful for this one bit, then:

Something was not right here, he thought. His instincts were clamoring, but why?

I mean, let the video for this chapter be the evidence of my relief. Briar is exactly the kind of character who would trust a gut feeling immediately, so I knew that this would be the unraveling of Lady Zenadia’s plan. You can’t fool someone like Briar that easily! And then, Zenadia overestimates herself and Briar sees right through her attempt to snatch Evvy out from under his watchful gaze.

She thinks she can buy Evvy, like a lapdog. Like a toy, he thought. Like a slave.

And Briar Moss is not going to let that happen. He channels Daja (MY HEART CAN’T HANDLE THIS) in a beautiful rejection of Zenadia’s “charity,” making sure that she isn’t offended or disrespected. AND SHE STILL BUYS A TREE FROM HIM, BLESS. I just… holy shit, I want Briar’s conversation with Evvy about this now. I want to know what he’s going to tell her. AHHHHH WHY IS THIS THE LAST CHAPTER FOR THIS WEEK. THIS IS UNFAIR.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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