In the first part of the tenth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, why must you continue to hurt me in this way. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of grief and death, intrusive thoughts
Wow, y’all, this is SO REAL. Duane fills the pages of this first part of chapter ten with a pervasive cloud of grief, one that hangs over Rhiow and everything she does. And I use the word “pervasive” intentionally because of the way Duane crafts this chapter. She does not pull punches in terms of how dark grief can get, and as someone who regularly deals with intrusive thoughts ANYWAY, I appreciated that Duane put this stuff into Rhiow’s characterization. That’s the thing with grief: you never quite know how it is going to manifest, so I always appreciate when an author can write in a way I haven’t quite seen before.
In this case, Rhiow feels defeated. Lost. Adrift. The pain of losing Sue is only worsened by the fact that she cannot wallow in her sadness; she has to go right back to work. For some people, that helps them cope; I remember only taking a few days off of work and then jumping straight back into it. The distraction was necessary for me.
But Rhiow’s work is not a distraction. It is so deeply related to Sue’s death that it only makes the problem that much more horrible. As she puts it:
This is not an accident, she thought finally.
Impossible for it to be a coincidence. The Lone Power knew all too well when a blow was about to be struck against It. This time, it had struck the first blow: a preemptive strike, meant to make Rhiow useless for what now had to be done.
Which means she knows that this is supposed to hurt. So if she gives in, if she allows herself to wallow in grief, the Lone One wins. Her only real move is to continue to resist entropy and death. But how do you do that when death is so personal? So intimate? How do you fight against something that was designed to hurt you specifically? It’s agonizing to see this happen, to watch Rhiow cycle through various stages of grief. We definitely see shock, denial, anger, and bargaining just within the first few pages of chapter ten alone. And I get why this is on such an accelerated time frame, too. How can it not be when Rhiow has to head to the deepest part of the Downsides VERY, VERY SHORTLY?
It’s also not lost on me that as Rhiow deals with feeling unraveled on an emotional level, wizardry as a whole appears to be unraveling, too. Again: there are no coincidences in this world. The “nature of wizardry… being changed” is part of whatever terrible endgame The Lone One has. It’s so much, isn’t it? REMEMBER THIS WAS A QUIET NOVEL ABOUT A KITTEN DISCOVERING THEIR POWERS just kidding it never was one. But once again, multiple threads come together and lend themselves to the utter nightmare that is the present time in this book. Wizardries are coming undone. Timeslides aren’t taking. WHAT IF THE GRAND CENTRAL AND CENTRAL PARK TIMESLIDES COME APART, Y’ALL. The sheer psychic energy of those will damage Manhattan forever, right? You can’t cover up that kind of trauma!
But there are still mysteries at hand. What’s with Arhu insisting that they tyrannosaurs seen in the book are all the same being? Not just that, but “someone who doesn’t mind getting killed.” That would be the Lone One, right? The Lone One loves death and entropy, but I still don’t understand what this is for. Why do it? Just to cause chaos? Because that’s certainly happening in a number of ways, the least of which is Urruah and Arhu turning on one another briefly. That’s what the Lone One thrives off of: relationships falling apart. Betrayal. Distrust. And of course, it doesn’t help that Arhu has visionary power that didn’t seem to manifest to stop Sue’s death. Which isn’t how it works, anyway, but the stress that these wizards are under has fostered doubt and cynicism in them. And Urruah is not one to bite their tongue, you know?
The whole thing is a mess, and I still don’t know what’s coming. I have no reason to doubt Rhiow’s theory that the adult feline wizards are a means to an end of sorts, a way for Arhu to get through his Ordeal for… reasons? Like, how extreme of an Ordeal are we talking??? We’ve seen some pretty fucked up Ordeals in Young Wizards, but this one might be so bad that Arhu needs three other wizards just to increase the odds that he’ll survive it??? HI WHO APPROVED THIS. Because no??? Please don’t??? But it’s gonna happen because that’s how Duane works. She seeds things for a reason, and that’s why I also suspect that the fragment of a spell left in Rhiow’s brain is related to that spell we heard about earlier in the book. They’re connected! They have to be! Well, they don’t have to be, but I’m desperate, so DON’T JUDGE ME. They’re about to head into the Downsides again, and wizardry is unraveling everywhere, and this is an unending nightmare. It’s only gonna get worse, right?
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