In the third chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Rhiow takes a journey to a strange location. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
I liked this! It felt a little long and wandering for a bit in the middle. I had a hard time grasping what was happening on the page, and Rhiow’s transition from being in the station to the Downside was jarring. But I suppose it has to be; this is more than just her going beneath Grand Central. She travels both in space and time to deal with the gates, and it’s not something we’ve seen before. That is what made this chapter so cool to read.
Indeed, it’s all these glimpses of a larger, more detailed world that are satisfying. For example, there’s that human wizard we meet briefly early in the chapter, whose name we never get, but whose responsibility is introduced to us. I love that idea, that there are thousands upon thousands of wizards all over Earth, commuting to deal with errantries that are big and small. Here, a wizard is off to deal with an oil spill, which won’t just be cleaned up, but seemingly “erased” from the collective conscious of humanity. Well, at least the non-wizard component, that is. How many other crises are managed by wizards? How often do the Powers That Be dispatch wizards to deal with the complications on Earth? I’m guessing that wizards often deal with local issues more than ones outside their home planet, and I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ALL OF THEM.
Beyond that, chapter three deals mostly with Rhiow’s trip to the Downside, to the “roots,” so to speak, where all these gates are anchored. It’s such a surreal sequence, too, because Rhiow steps through a gate and IS INSTANTLY TURNED INTO A GIANT BLACK CAT. The transformation here is deeply unexpected, but it’s captivating. You become more primal here, more like your true self. Or more like the essence of your spirit? It’s not directly spelled out but shown to us, both in how Rhiow transforms and how old Manhattan looked, long before humans were a part of it, long before there were even cats like Rhiow. It’s a gorgeous scene, one that reminded me of our trip to an “alternate” Manhattan in the very first Young Wizards book. I don’t know whether that is intentional or not, but it’s where my thoughts went first.
Regardless, the Downside was an unexpected treat, and it was a WEIRD one, too. I don’t understand how something so ancient and so experienced could be manipulated as we see here. Rhiow’s travel to the Downside is not all that helpful for her. She knows that someone or something other than wizardry tempted Arhu, but she isn’t any closer to discover what happened to use that gate and then left it wide open into a void. I do think this was some foreshadowing for us, though:
The “roots” of the spell structure, of course, went farther down… much farther, into the endless, tangled caverns, down to the roots of the Mountain, the heart of this world. But that wasn’t somewhere Rhiow would go unless the Powers That Be specifically ordered it. They never had, during her management of these gates, and Rhiow hoped they never would. Ffairh had gone once and had described that intervention to her, in a quiet, dry fifteen-minute monologue that had given her nightmares for weeks.
WELL, OKAY. I mean, I don’t want that to happen because YIKES??? But also: IT’S GONNA HAPPEN, ISN’T IT. And now I want to know what’s all the way down there! There’s something awful, right??? IS THAT WHERE THIS THING CAME FROM.
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