In the first part of the eighth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Arhu and Rhiow have a much-needed conversation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Great, now I’m uncomfortable because Duane has me thinking about a possible traitor. I’d be uncomfortable if ANY of these characters were responsible for Rhiow’s light going out in the old Downsides, and my only hope is that if this is the case, it’s because a character is being shadowed by the Lone Power. It’s a bold way to open the chapter, I admit. I like that Rhiow gets a moment to go over everything that happened, too, even though that leads her down such an unsettling line of thought. But there was someone or something else in that cavern. Was it just Rhiow’s mind? I don’t personally believe that, and I don’t think I ever got the sense that maybe Rhiow was too frightened or distracted and that made her wizardry falter. UGH WHY CAN’T THIS JUST BE ABOUT RHIOW STEALING PEPPERONI PIZZA, WHERE IS MY SOFT COZY CAT ADVENTURE.
Anyway, it seems with every new reveal about Arhu, the more sympathy I feel for this kitten. I can’t believe I’m going to project my feelings on a CAT, but HERE WE GO, COUSINS. Look, it is… not easy? To have a difficult childhood. Which is such a vague comment, I know, but I don’t really feel like detailing anything to make this point, especially since many of you have been reading my stuff for years and are at least superficially familiar with my childhood. But there’s a myth or a cultural standard in our world that life should be easy, fantastical, and full of imagination for children, that they get to live in blissful ignorance for a long, long time before the realities of the world come crashing in on them. But for some children, myself included, that epiphany—that painful, life-altering change—came much, much earlier than it does for most other people. If I seem cynical and weary sometimes, it’s because I’ve been thinking of these sort of things for the majority of my life.
So I look at Arhu, who has never had an ehhif owner; who doesn’t know the value of human companionship and has never experienced anything like the scene that opens this chapter; who was gifted a visionary power he didn’t understand, so much so that his ignorance was part of the reason he was lured under Grand Central in the first place; who is on his first life and has no history, no understanding of the world to base his decisions off of; and I see all this, and my heart breaks just a little because it’s not like he chose to be born this way or into these circumstances. It’s just the deck of cards he has been given. The Powers put him in the lives of Saash, Urruah, and Rhiow, yes, and that’s important! But his behavior, as erratic and irrational and stubborn as it is, is because he literally doesn’t know any better. How can he?
And then I start thinking about Arhu’s visionary powers themselves. This is the first time he actually describes them, and oh my gods, y’all, they’re so much more intense than I could have ever guessed? There are layers of reality laying on top of one another wherever Arhu looks:
“It’s like when the Whisperer… when she tells you stuff… but there’s always more than just what she tells you. I see pictures of things behind things behind things, and it all keeps changing. I don’t know where to put my feet.”
As Rhiow notes, this is probably why he’s so clumsy. How can you be certain of your every step when your every step contains a ghostly image of what might happen? Oh, y’all, does that mean in that sequence earlier in the book, where Arhu was learning how toc climb to the top of Grand Central, he was looking upon futures where he DID fall to his death???? GOOD GODS, THIS IS A NIGHTMARE, I WOULD NEVER WANT THIS POWER. Well, I already have it, it’s called ANXIETY, and I say HARD PASS.
Mark Links Stuff