In the second part of the seventh chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Rhiow leads the feline wizards further into the Downsides. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of claustrophobia
Oh, so this was exactly as creepy as I thought it was gonna be. GREAT. ALL GREAT, NOTHING BAD. This is definitely not an awful image:
It would have distracted her from the image that always struck her, when they were forced to come this way, that they were walking into a particularly fangy set of jaws, backed by a dark and hungry gullet of stone. If you weren’t careful, you could imagine the jaws closing—
I’m good! Real good! I will not be entering any caverns voluntarily in the near future! Because this kind of stuff is genuinely unsettling to me, and I don’t do super well in closed-in spaces. (Or in some crowds, too. That is a bit more context dependent.) Duane does a masterful job of writing this descent and giving the reader a real visceral view of this journey. It’s so upsetting! Part of that is because we know the Wise Ones exist, they are terrible, and we also have no goddam idea if they’re going to turn up at any moment of this sequence. The unknowable element of this is how Duane builds up the suspense, sure, but there’s also the physicality of it all. The fact that in their “true” spirit forms, these feline wizards take up much more space means that the walls much more literally feel as if they’re closing in on these characters.
Well, one more thing:
“Why are you so nervous?”
Saash breathed out. “We were down here before, about a sun’s-round ago. Not a good trip.”
“Bad things,” Urruah said from behind Arhu, his voice plainly suggesting that one might happen right now if Arhu didn’t shut up.
He shut up.
BLESS THIS ENTIRE EXCHANGE. Funny and also: not okay? But the tonal shift works well because you can see Arhu’s emotional response to all of this fall closer in line with what the other cats are experiencing. Granted, we are close in Rhiow’s head through all of this, but despite that POV, you can still just how seriously they all take this. They don’t talk much at all, only when necessary, and then when they do, it’s because the stresses of the place are getting to them. (I’m referring to the little spat they almost have after running into one another.) These are chatty characters, and most of this journey takes place in silence, and it is so EERIE.
So was this:
The light went out.
Rhiow stopped short. I didn’t do that—
Oh, no, I’m gonna see myself out right now. BUT I CAN’T. I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. That includes Duane dropping a secret into the text, teasing me that it’s a secret, and then NOT TELLING ME THE SECRET. Y’all, what the hell is the missing symbol in Arhu’s name in wizardry? Why does it shock Rhiow so much??? WHY IS IT BROUGHT UP AGAIN WITHOUT TELLING ME THE MEANING? (Because you’re all mean.)
As for the wizardry done at the catenary itself, I felt torn. I still kept expecting something terrible to show up, and this chapter is hardly over. There’s so much more to come! But the science terminology kept getting more and more dense, and sometimes, I do have a problem with visualizing descriptive scenes, particularly when they are describing things that I don’t have a concrete example of. The stuff about buds and the circles of power were a little hard to imagine, but that could entirely be on my end.
Anyway! There’s more to this chapter. I am going to brace myself for some Wise Ones, because they’re coming, right?
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