In the third and final part of the fifth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Rhiow heads home, weary from her busy day, and reflects on the awful journey she has ahead of her. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For talk of anxiety
The shift in focus for this book continues to prove rewarding for me, and it is making me think about what all the Young Wizards books would have been like if they’d been from the perspective of, say, Carl or Tom. How much did they stress over the sudden appearance of Kit and Nita in their lives? In Dairine’s surprise development of wizardry? In all the terrifying and overwhelming errantries that these characters were sent on? Oh, wow, this is a lot to consider, isn’t it?
But that different perspective makes this so exciting for me, especially since this is the first “adult” book of Duane’s that I’ve read. Rhiow’s insight into wizardry is so different for me, and Duane utilizes that to build some convincing dread at the end of this chapter. Rhiow’s night starts to calm down as she returns home to her ehhif, and we get a sense of her nightly routine to relax and settle after a long day at work. And that’s such a fun sentence to type because this was work for Rhiow! It’s just been complicated by the arrival of Arhu. Yet there’s a haunting in her mind; she’s still disturbed by what she was told she’d need to do to fix the misbehaving gate. Duane manages to replicate a specific experience with anxiety and put it into a cat, and y’all, it’s so fucking SATISFYING. Rhiow tries to slip into her relaxing nighttime behavior, and yet, she can’t ignore the thing in her mind that keeps needling her, that keeps reminding her of what she’s supposed to do. It’s something I recognize in my own anxiety. A thought will plague me like this, pushing itself to the forefront of my mind until I just acknowledge it.
So Rhiow has to acknowledge and consider the terrible ramifications of the Old Downsides, something that the reader had only gotten a glimpse at once. Rhiow had previously mentioned that her only trip down there was so awful she was traumatized for DAYS. Now, I fully expected that once Duane did a scene jump here that we would later find out why this was such a deeply upsetting experience. Clearly, this was meant for some other time. YEAH, I WAS WRONG. Seriously, check out the accompanying video for evidence of me realizing this in REAL TIME. It’s so fascinating to me, though, that the one scene with the Downsides we’d scene before was more glorious than terrifying. Here, though, the Old Downsides is not a wondrous land that is more pure and more grandiose than current day Manhattan. Nope, it’s where the Wise Ones, the descendants of the People, first made their Choice, and THEY CHOSE WRONG. Oh my god, y’all, THEIR PUNISHMENT WAS THE METEOR THAT WIPED OUT LIFE MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO??? Look, this was such a fucked up but brilliant way of introducing the idea of the Choice to new readers but cluing in existing Young Wizards fans into what happened so long ago. It’s like we get an extra surprise from Duane. Yet this isn’t even the most messed up thing here. Because Duane then reveals what it was that caused Rhiow’s trauma:
That was when they found more of the lizards, furtive and hasty, devouring the bodies of those Rhiow and the others had killed. Urruah had charged them, scattering them: and the three of them had made their way hurriedly back to the surface and to the gateway to their own world. But Rhiow had not been able to forget the sight of an intelligent being, tearing the flesh of one of its own kind for food. What kind of life is that for any creature? Down there in the dark… with nothing to eat but…
It’s a particularly menacing thought because it demonstrates how the Lone One brought entropy to the worlds. Wizards are meant to protect Life, and yet these beings, so alone and isolated and corrupted, take Life in order to sustain their own. They only have one another for that! That is their whole existence. Of course that would seem utterly horrifying to anyone, but especially to a wizard.
And that’s where Rhiow is gonna have to go WITH A NEWCOMER TO WIZARDRY. It’s a disturbing notion, and we now know that there’s no way around this for her or the other wizards. They have to travel to the Old Downsides, potentially fight the Wise Ones, and they have to do it real soon or else the malfunctioning gate might start killing people. Y’all, that’s how you build SUSPENSE. That’s how you seed doubt and conflict into a narrative, and it’s how you creep me out SPECIFICALLY.
Whew, I’m not ready for this.
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