Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: Zade and Charles did their brand new magic act, using magic that is emphatically “strong and volatile.” Midway through, Zade starts feeling ill. While she’s able to pull through and be perfect (Black Swan style) she collapses as soon as it’s over. Zeb possibly casts a spell, and Riley calls 911. Before losing consciousness, Zade’s only request is that her mother is called.
So, I bet you’re thinking that it’s going to be third-person italics until Zade wakes up, right? Or maybe you’re thinking that we’ll jump straight to her waking up and continue from there. Neither of those happen. Instead, we still get to be narrated to by Zade in first person, although Lani Sarem finds a, um, creative way to get around little inconveniences like an unconscious narrator.
Later, after I’d had some time to rest, I pulled out the memories of what everyone else saw and what happened. When you “pull out” memories using magick, they pretty much feel like they are your memories—but you’re also seeing yourself from that other point of view.
Now, it’s a widely known fact that the pull-out method is unreliable. You might think that since we’re getting events filtered through the gaze of other characters, we might need to approach this with a skeptical eye. But once again, you’d be wrong, while lip service is paid to how memories are not 100% representative of what actually happened, Zade can pull as many memories as she wants, so there are no gaps in her knowledge!
After taking a while to explain this, we get back to the story. After Zade faints, Mac arrives, and we’re told that he’d left the theater for a little bit while he was angry. Since Zade is now privy to all of Macs thoughts during this episode, she knows that when he heard someone had gotten hurt, he intuitively knew it was her.
So Mac asks what happened, and upon seeing Zade “choking on her own blood,” rushes over to her. According to Tad, Zade just collapsed and began to bleed. Zeb tells Mac that she collapsed in his arms.
He seemed somewhat upset that I was hurt–which surprised me. Maybe he didn’t hate me after all.
Haven’t we established that Zeb doesn’t hate Zade several times at this point? Jackson told her, Zeb told her when he confronted her about something that went unspecified, and finally, while Zade was still conscious, she collapsed into his arms and felt comforted.
Riley is still freaking out, and Zeb tries to support him physically, since Riley’s on the verge of collapsing due to panic. When the paramedics arrive, they can’t figure out what’s going on with her:
Little did they know that what was happening to me wasn’t anything they had ever seen before. There would be no answers to my sudden collapse from any from this world.
Are Zade and her mother Jewish gypsies from outer space? That sounds like something Alex Jones would yell about on his show. I think this line is meant to imply that no one from the non-magical world will know what happened, but the way it’s phrased makes me excited that there might be aliens involved in a later installment (hopefully not Jewish ones, because that’s an actual antisemitic conspiracy theory).
So anyway, one of the paramedics asks what happened, and Tad tells him that something must have gone wrong at the end of the show. The paramedics say that there’s no sign of external trauma and that it must be internal, and that they need to get her to a hospital. They strap her onto a gurney.
Blood was still oozing out of my mouth and trickling onto the floor.
Is her head literally hanging off of the gurney? That doesn’t sound right. Whatever.
Mac asks which hospital they’re taking her to, so that he can go too. They tell him, and Charles says that he’s going with Mac.
Before they leave, Tad tells Mac that Zade said to call her mother. Mac thinks that he doesn’t have her number, and says he’ll deal with it later.
As Charles and Mac exit, we get to find out things are a lot more bloody than we realized at first:
Zeb and Tad both had blood all over their clothes and there was even blood pooled on the floor. Riley stood there just staring at the floor, pretty shaken and distraught. As everyone started to disperse, Riley couldn’t take his eyes away from the red pool of blood.
Would have been nice to know about all this blood that was everywhere toward the beginning of the scene. Or maybe Charles and Mac weren’t aware of all the blood because they were focused on Zade? But surely Mac would have noticed it when he arrived? I don’t know.
Tad tries to comfort Riley a bit, but Zade can tell he’s shaken. Zeb is kind of zoned out, and only now notices he’s covered in blood. Maybe the spell he did drained his energy? Reading this book honestly makes me feel a little bit crazy because it’s impossible to know how much of it is meant to be subtext and how much is just rushed, lazy writing.
Anyway, the scene ends.
The next scene opens with a long, hairy mouthful of a sentence with one of those lengthy emdash-delineated sub-clauses Lani’s so fond of. I will summarize it: Zade finds looking through the memories of people who saw her during this ordeal to be difficult because the memories are so emotionally intense.
Feeling the pain they felt as I combed through their deepest thoughts was incredibly hard for me, but I needed to know what happened during the time I was “gone”.
Imagine their pain if they knew Zade was digging through their brains! She does specify later that she got permission from Mac and Charles to “pull their memories,” but she’s definitely not limiting her recon to them alone. I also take issue with the assertion that Zade “needed” to know everything that happened while she was out. Why not just ask? I’m going to count this as an instance of The World Revolving Around Zade (28) because it’s so entitled.
Fortunately, we get to skip the ambulance ride and begin the scene in the hospital with Mac and Charles. But before that happens:
I was trying to find out what happened between the theater and the hospital, but since no one I was close to was with me in the ambulance, I had to admit that it would be a bit harder to find those memories. I had to assume that not much happened that was important (to me, at least), so I skipped trying to pull those moments, which seemed to to be more work than they were worth.
Thanks, Zade! I’m glad we get an explanation as to why we’re missing a scene of you riding unconscious in an ambulance. Otherwise, it would just add to the mountain of unanswered questions that’s been steadily growing since this book began!
We learn that Mac and Charles drove to the hospital in silence. Mac still thinks that there’s something uneasy between Charles and Zade, but Charles is too preoccupied by Zade’s emergency to notice Mac’s grumpiness. Since the hospital is only a couple miles away, they arrive in no time. When Mac and Charles get to the waiting room, they wait impatiently for a doctor to tell the what’s going on. Finally, an old, tired-looking man emerges.
By his white coat you could tell he was a doctor and obviously well-experienced–most likely the head doctor of the hospital.
I love how excited Zade is to discover that a man who was might be the “head doctor” is coming out to tell her famous
dad boss and her boyfriend romantic interest about her status.
The doctor, who introduces himself as Dr. Schimdt. Fun fact: Lani’s editor is identified a “Robert Schmidt” in the acknowledgements, which makes me wonder if there’s a connection here. He can hardly get a word out before Mac interrupts to ask if Zade’s OK. Dr. Schimdt asks if either Mac or Charles are family.
“I’m her friend. . . um . . . I’m her boy. I’m her. . . boy . . . friend,” Mac stammered. He knew enough to know that the doctor would want to speak to family.
What gave it away? Maybe because the doctor just asked if Mac was family? Genius.
He immediately regretted not lying and say something like fiancé—or even husband.
I know that when someone who care about is in critical danger it’s hard to act rationally, but jeez, an hour ago he was ready to let her fall to her death. And now he’s ready to lie and say he’s her husband? Mac has more than a few issues, methinks.
But I guess Zade also pulled Schmidt’s memories too, because we get his perspective on the matter: he’s not quite sure if Mac is a friend or a boyfriend, and thinks that’s really not enough to warrant giving out a patient’s information. He reiterates that he needs to be talking to a family member (if only we had one of those lying around somewhere). Mac tells Schmidt that Zade’s mom lives in Tennessee.
Charles enters the conversation, saying that perhaps he can help sort this out. Schmidt asks him too if he is related to Zade, and Charles says he’s her employer. When Schmidt tells Charles that employer and family are not synonymous, Charles asks to speak with Schmidt in private. WHAT COULD THIS INDICATE?????
But Mac doesn’t like the idea Charles speaking privately to the doctor.
“Whatever you want to tell the doctor, you can say in front of me,” Mac insisted, crossing his arms and putting himself between the two of them.
The World Revolves Around Mac: 1. I know that “whatever you want to say in front of X you can say in front of me” is a cliche, but usually X is a close friend/romantic interest of the person saying it. But Charles decides, OK, whatever:
Charles looked back at the confused doctor and sighed deeply.
“I am also her . . . ,” he paused, glancing at Mac. “I’m her father.”
WHAT????? NO WAY!!
This is possibly the worst secret parent reveal I’m seen in my life. First of all, Zade clearly knows this already (hence the proclamations of love between the two in the last chapter and her total lack of surprise at this admission), but it raises so many questions. When did Zade find out Charles was her dad? When did Charles find out Zade was his daughter? I guess that their real reunion was the missing scene that followed the end of chapter 2 and was skipped over entirely, so what was that like? Was Zade angry that he’d abandoned her and her mother for a life of fame and much younger girlfriends? Was Charles reluctant to be forthright with everyone about his relation to Zade for fear of accusations of nepotism? Literally the only reason for Zade to not let us know that he’s her dad is for this shitty non-twist. We already knew they weren’t romantically involved because in the last chapter it’s told to us outright that their relationship is totally platonic. I would say that this is the most contrived thing in this book, but let’s be honest: everything in this book is contrived.
At hearing this news, Mac taken aback. Charles repeats that Zade is his daughter.
I realized that this may have been the first time Charles had ever said those words out loud–and I wasn’t even there to hear them in person.
You got to mind-pull the event though, so that’s basically the same thing.
“I saw you kiss her!” Mac protested.
“What are you trying to imply?” Charles said, flabbergasted.
See, I think Charles is confused because he thinks Mac saw him kissing Zade as Jackson, and is afraid that Mac can see through glamours. Maybe Zade doesn’t catch on, though, because Charles occlumencies his memories before Zade pulls them (Like I said, she tells us later that she had permission to memory-pull from both Mac and Charles).
Mac starts getting more freaked out and, before the doctor has had time to say anything about Zade’s condition, asks Dr. Schmidt to give him and Charles a moment alone.
The doctor complies, and as he walks away he mumbles to himself about this turning into a Jerry Springer episode. I don’t know if Jerry Springer is still on the air, but I appreciate his sass.
Once the doctor is gone, Mac asks if Charles was telling the truth. Charles says it’s “100% completely true” and that Zade came to audition for the show because she knew. Mac asks if anyone else knows, and Charles answers thusly:
“I am not aware of anyone else knowing. Besides her mother, of course.”
So does Zeb not know? Oh well, maybe he knows she’s magic but doesn’t know she’s Charles’ daughter? Or maybe Charles is lying, and occlumency-ing so Zade doesn’t catch on again.
Mac proceeds to ask why it’s kept such a secret. To this, we get an answer that doesn’t seem any more contrived than the rest of what’s happened this chapter, but doesn’t seem less so either:
“I cannot explain most of it to you, but I can say that . . . well, it was her mother’s wish and I had no choice but to respect it. ‘Wish’ is a polite way of putting it, honestly. It was only recently that Zade found out that I was her father; and that’s when she came to work with us.
Needless to say, we never get an explanation about why Dela demanded Zade’s relationship to Charles be kept secret. And even I can’t come up with a wacky headcanon to explain it.
Mac comments that it’s funny that Zade does magic too, and Charles tells him that her mother “does do something similar.” Which Mac knows, because Zade’s told him she reads tarot cards for a living.
Mac tells Charles about thinking Zade and he were “having an affair,” and thinks about how now everything makes so much more sense (it doesn’t).
But then Mac remembers how he saw Charles kiss her:
“You did? Are you sure?” Charles looked directly at Mac with his eyebrow raised.
I think he’s super worried Mac can see through glamours right now. But Zade goes out of her way to tell us that this is not what Charles is thinking:
He was trying to figure out for himself what Mac could have seen that looked like they had made out, because he positively had not made out with his daughter. Of that he was certain.
If Charles really had never made out with Zade (in either form), it should go without saying that he was confused about what Mac had seen. But this seems like another instance where Charles has edited his memory so that Zade won’t realize that he’s actually freaking out of his secret identity being uncovered.
(I just really want Jackson=Charles to be true, OK? Why include memories as a method of viewing the past unless it’s going to get manipulated a little bit?)
But in any case, Mac acknowledges that he never actually saw them kissing with tongue, and turned away before he saw anything and only fantasized about all the tongue-action that was going on.
Charles nodded and smiled; he knew exactly the time frame Mac was speaking about.
Relieved to know what Mac is talking about (and that his cover as Jackson isn’t blown), Charles tells him that what he thought was some hardcore kissing was simply a kiss on the cheek. He apologizes for Mac having misunderstood, and for causing him pain.
Mac feels like a dumbass for misinterpreting so much, and laments that he got so angry when he should have just listened to her. He also lets it slip that Cam had been running the main board during the big “illusion.” At this, Charles asks him to clarify that he himself wasn’t running the board. When Mac affirms this, Charles says that he thinks he might know what went wrong with the trick. At this very moment Dr. Schmidt returns. Mac and Charles are ready to hear what he has to say.
But first! A section break. And then:
Something else really important and alarming happened at that exact moment. Of course, I was the only one who knew it was important, and so it wasn’t till I was pulling memories–long after the fact–that I saw it.
I’ve said this in the comments a few times, but it’s moments like this that make it obvious which bits weren’t present when Lani wrote this a standalone screenplay.
So the “really important” thing that Zade sees is. . .Strange Lambo Girl! In case you’ve forgotten, Zade is kind enough to remind us that this is the girl who attacked her in the mall parking lot back in Chapter 7.
Anyway, Zade thinks that Lambo Girl is trying to be seen:
Not only did I find out that she was there but she seemed to make a point of being seen when she didn’t have to–which lead me to believe she knew I would look later (or at least that someone would) and would see her. I still have no idea what she was there–or why she purposely wanted to be seen.
This would be so interesting if it ever came up again. I don’t know why Lambo Girl would expect Zade to look through people’s memories (how does she even know that Zade’s unconscious at this point? Psychic powers, probably) so maybe Zeb is known for memory-pulling? That’s my guess. Maybe Lambo Girl is Zeb’s rival. Or it honestly could just be a coincidence and Lambo Girl might just be rude.
But yeah, Lambo Girl plows though the waiting room and bumps into Mac, which “burns a spot” into Mac’s memory by pushing him out of the way.
But she was gone as quickly as she’d arrived–Mac didn’t even see where she had gone to as he had already turned his attention back to the Dr. Schmidt.
And that’s the end of that little inconsequential bit. We get another section break, and return to the originally scripted story.
Dr. Schmidt takes a moment to clarify that Charles is her father, and Charles says he is and that Mac is allowed to hang around for anything they might say. Dr. Schmidt says that Zade is stable, but can’t figure out what’s wrong. Apparently Zade is bleeding from nowhere. Schmidt is thoroughly confused. Mac asks what can be done. Schmidt is so pessimistic that he makes another dated pop-culture reference:
“I never thought I would say this, but I am currently wishing Dr. House was a real person. It’s definitely the kind of case he would solve.”
I’m not a doctor, but referring the case to a fictional character wouldn’t be my first course of action.
Charles doesn’t know who Dr. House is, and Mac explains. We’re told that Charles isn’t the best with pop culture:
When Charles goes to big events with famous people he frequently must be told by his assistant who someone is–and why they are considered famous.
This is a thing that I am 99% certain is lifted straight from The Devil Wears Prada. Once again, Lani seems to be taking her cues from Anne Hathaway movies.
Mac continues explaining who Dr. House is. Schmidt says he’s not trying to make a joke, but that he’s just not very often bamboozled by medical emergencies. He tells them that they’re “running all kinds of tests” and that if the doctors find anything, he will tell them so.
Mac asks if they can see Zade, and Schmidt leads them to her room “in the ICU unit.” Zade’ all wired up to an IV and some tubes (?), and Zade feels the pain that Mac and Charles felt. As Charles strokes Zade’s hair, his cell phone rings. It’s Zade’s mom Dela! Charles steps out of the room to take the call. Once he’s alone, he tells Dela that he was just about to call her. Dela’s opening line is “How bad is she?” (all of Dela’s phone-dialogue is in italics). Charles asks how she knew, and Dela basically says that he knows damn well how she found out (she’s psychic, after all!)
When Charles tells her that the doctors don’t know what’s wrong, Dela says that of course they don’t. She also says that Zade must be brought to Tennessee, and to bring Mac too because she “may need him.” Charles asks her why she can’t come to them.
“Charlie, I need my tools and my altar–all that is here. Do you understand? I can’t do what I need to in a hospital room with people everywhere.”
What time is it? Occult Ritual O’Clock! That’s exciting. Charles seems apprehensive, because he doesn’t respond right away. Dela says that it’s the only way.
Charles asks if she could die, and gets anxious. Dela takes a while to answer because (Zade assumes) she’s still reading her cards. But then for some reason we shift to Dela’s point-of-view for a moment, and she lays out three cards and looks at them. And then we’re treated to a long explanation about tarot reading!
Basically, cards can mean things on their own but they can also have specific meanings based on context other cards provide. Zade says that it’s your spirit guides sending you messages, and lessons you have to learn, etc. If you’re magical, you can sometimes get unambiguous readings and sometimes not. And then we get some deep, involved thoughts on Destiny, and how it can be changed but that’s hard to do etc. It goes on for nearly an entire page.
In the mean time, Charles has been waiting for an answer, and reminds Dela that he’s doing so. Finally, Dela responds:
“They won’t give me a clear answer. The only thing they will say is that you do need to bring her down here. The faster you get her down here to me, the better her chances are of making it. It’s a waning moon tonight and tomorrow night, at least. That will help.”
Ok, is it just me or have tarot cards literally never helped Zade or her mother divine anything in this novel? I know that tarot card readings are vague in real life, but shouldn’t Magically Gifted Zade and Dela have a bit more success?
Dela’s thing about the waning moon meant something to Charles though, because he knows some of how Dela’s magic works. And for the second time in two pages, we’re treated to another lengthy bit of exposition on how the phase of the moon affects spellcasting: basically, waxing moon = good for spells that want to increase something, and waning moon is good for those that want to lessen something.
Charles finally agrees, and says they’ll take his private jet! Dela says she doesn’t want to know why he as a private jet, which is weird because obviously he has one because he’s rich and famous and hates flying on commercial airlines.
Charles finds Dr. Schmidt, and says that he’s found a specialist who can help Zade. Schmidt is incredulous, and asks for more details, but Charles makes some shit up about being an “internal specialist”. He thinks for a bit about how he could have been more convincing, and after a page of that, Schmidt very reluctantly allows Charles to take Zade to his “Internal Specialist.”
After that, Charles tells Mac that they’re going to Tennessee. Mac, too, protests, but Charles cryptically assures him that Dela is very talented. Mac says he’s going with him, and Charles welcomes him along, saying that he will be needed.
[Charles] took credit for spinning the whole thing to Mac in a way where Mac wanted to come with them even though, in reality, Mac would have probably wanted to come regardless.
Awww, Charles is also a narcissist. At least the text acknowledges it.
Anyway, Mac is confused and repeats the word “needed?” And Charles reiterates that Mac will be needed. And this chapter is finally over!