In the second half of the eighth chapter of A Wizard Alone, Nita and Dairine rush to find Kit. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Wow, y’all. This is such a beautifully tense set of scenes, and I always appreciate it when an author is able to affect the reader like this. It’s not easy! I have a sequence in the middle of my book and another at the end that were terrifying to write. Not in the sense that they scared me, but because I was concerned I couldn’t pull of tension. (I am happy to report that three readers/editors cried over them I DRINK YOUR TEARS.) Tension is a nasty thing to accomplish because it involves the unknown. The reader can’t know the conclusion; they have to be so immersed in the world you’ve built or the story you’ve told that they, like the characters, cannot see the outcome. (There’s also another form of it: when the audience knows everything, but the character does not, and the character is racing to the horrible inevitability ahead of them. I LOVE THAT, TOO.)
Duane has accomplished it here with style and grace. We knew Kit had walked into Darryl’s next world, the next trap set for the Lone One. We knew that the link had pulled Kit in, and we knew that Ponch had luckily managed to get the Leash at the last second. But Nita is faced with an unreal task: locate Kit in her dreams in the middle of the afternoon without using a wizardry to fall asleep, and the whole thing is limited to about six Earth dimension hours, which comes out to like half an hour in Darryl’s mind. YOU’RE WELCOME, NITA. And the sheer implausibility of this task is what lends itself to the tension. How the hell is Nita going to accomplish this?
There’s a time constraint on all of this, and WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS. This is such a unique situation that there’s literally no guide to how long Kit has before it’s too late and they can’t assist him any longer. LOOK, I’M STRESSED OUT ALREADY, AND ALL I’M DOING IS DESCRIBING THE SCENARIO. I was so thankful for Nita’s dad in this section, though, because he provides exactly the kind of support she needed. Obviously, he can’t assist like Dairine can. (Bless Dairine, too, and I hope she comes to realize how important she is.) But there’s a non-wizard way he helps her, and that’s to remind her of survival. It’s hard to think about how resilient humans are on a personal level because… well, when you’re caught up in some shit, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.
Nita has survived so much already. Her Ordeal. The Lone Power multiple times. NEARLY DROWNING DEEP IN THE OCEAN. Other planets! Her mother’s tragic death. She is still alive. That’s something I have to remind myself of during the difficult periods of my own life: I’ve made it this far, even when I thought I wouldn’t. Carl more or less tells her the same thing, urging her to take things one at a time instead of getting overwhelmed by the whole of it. I LOVE POSITIVE ADULT FIGURES IN YOUNG ADULT BOOKS.
So let’s talk about Nita falling asleep. Like her, I also cannot fall asleep during the daytime. I have repeatedly tried to take naps as a way of resting or building energy, and I cannot do it. I have only done it a few times ever, and it was always out of pure exhaustion. Like when I flew from San Francisco to Oslo in 2015 and COULD NOT SLEEP ON THE FLIGHT. I passed because I had to. Here, Nita does not have the luxury of exhaustion, and she’s also tormented by the anxiety of it all. So when she finally does exhaust herself to sleep, I was worried that she was too late.
My worries changed fairly quickly in Darryl’s world, though. Look, he’s the most powerful wizard in this entire series thus far, and I should have expected that Nita would have a nightmare of a time locating Kit. It’s not just in terms of obstacles, though; the sheer distance she has to cover is most of what wastes her time. That has to be intentional! Darryl’s worlds are designed to waste the power and energy of the Lone One, so by comparison, it makes perfect sense to me that these worlds would be even more difficult for Nita to manage. Even after she finds the “wall” erected in her path to Kit, she expends an absurd amount of energy trying to blast her way past it, only to discover that her expenditure did NOTHING AT ALL. Not a scratch or dent or scrape or anything.
How the hell do you contend with that?
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
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