Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: The time finally came for Mac to perform the resurrection ritual, which consisted of tying Zade to a stone table, anointing her with “dragon’s blood,” chanting in what is either Bosnian or Croatian (and, of course some Latin (?)), and stabbing her through the heart with a magical dagger, all while a lightning storm raged around them. After some more hours, Zade regained consciousness and everyone felt lots of things.
This is the penultimate chapter, everyone! And it’s short!
Chapter 20 opens with the familiar theme of weeks passing uneventfully. But this time, they’re so uneventful that Zade essentially sleeps right through them while she recovers. She also says that while she was awake, everything was hazy and difficult to remember.
Looking back on it, I think my mother may have had a hand in that. After all, she’d have known that sleeping through the pain would make it much easier for my body to heal from the ordeal it had gone through.
Creepy control-freak Dela strikes again! First she bewitches Charles to keep him away from his daughter for twentysome years, then she implicitly uses magical means to keep Zade in Shitty Centertown for several years, and now she’s (magically?) drugging her daughter for a few weeks in a such way that inhibits cognition and consciousness! Without consent!
So Zade says that every day she gets better, and finally, when she’s strong enough to hear what happened, Dela, Charles, and Mac all try to tell her what happened. This isn’t enough for Zade, though.
I really wanted to know everything that happened in detail, so once most of my strength had returned I asked if I could pull their memories.
That’s, like, really entitled behavior. I’m quite honestly not sure why third-person italics weren’t used. They’re Lani’s established method for showing us what’s going on when Zade’s not around. If she was really attached to the memory-pull thing, why didn’t she use those instances as an opportunity to establish this ass-pull of a power? It’s truly amazing how little thought went into this.
They all gave me permission, which is really the only way to do that easily. You can force memories out of someone but it’s a difficult process and some people can even block you so you can’t do it.
First, wow, what even is that second sentence? A telegram? No, a telegram wouldn’t use so many unnecessary words. God, what I would give to see the unedited version of this book.
Second, this makes it pretty clear that any of them could have manipulated what Zade saw. Now, I’m not saying Charles tried to protect any secrets he might have, but he could if he wanted to.
Zade says that the first person whose memory she pulls is Mac, but he makes her promise only to look at events from when she was unconscious. Dela and Charles let her dig through their brains as much as she wants, presumably because anything they want to keep from her they can protect well enough. Zade goes on to describe the process of memory-pulling in detail, and it is quite a difficult process.
The best way when you have willing participants is to sit with each of them and put them into an almost catatonic state while you comb through their thoughts. That is what I did.
Here’s a theory: what if Zade CAME BACK WRONG, and now she’s a little bit darker and less hahaha no, Zade’s always been an overreaching narcissistic creep who doesn’t consider the ethics of what she’s doing. Remember Bike Guy and Lemonade Girl?
When Zade has successfully downloaded their memories, she bemoans how difficult the process was. But Zade’s not one to just accept that if she wants the full picture, she has to put in the time and effort to get it:
I wondered if I could find a way to do it easier, and better, without asking for permission. Having spent so much time on it, I decided that I was definitely going to try to look into it later; someone in the magick world might already have perfected the process in a way I didn’t know.
I would just like to point out that this is literally Voldemort methodology. Also, in chapter 15, Zade says that “the memories she pulled from everyone were hard for her to sift through.” And when she’s in the ambulance, she complains that it would be too hard to pull memories from the paramedics because she doesn’t know them, not that it would be unethical to do so. Also, I just remembered as I was trying to find what our world-revolves-around-zade was so I could start it up again, and Zade also is privy to Dr. Schmidt’s inner thoughts!
Her complete lack of consideration for consent lets me start up The World Revolves Around Zade again. Technically, I already counted this back in chapter 15, but what the hell. This puts us at 29.
Zade tells us that Charles’ show goes on hiatus while Zade recovers, so Mac and Charles can stay in Tennessee until Zade is well. I don’t care that Charles is Zade’s father and therefore is justified in being with her while she recovers from a life-threatening illness. She’s out-of-commission for weeks. The World Revolves Around Zade #30.
Zade thinks that Charles isn’t just staying for her, though. She notices that he and Dela are “getting cozier,” and doesn’t know how to feel about it.
When I was a kid, I had odd fantasies about my parents getting back together.
Wow! Child of estranged parents hopes for a reunion? And last time, we learned that she hated being sick as a kid. What unusual childhood quirk do you think will come up next? A sweet tooth? Did she hate doing chores? How wacky would that be?
As I watched them during my recovery, it looked more and more like a real possibility. It was too bad it hadn’t happened years earlier.
IS NOTHING GOOD ENOUGH FOR HER? I think that Zade’s continuous complaining about how she was so happy about X but if only it had been Y is meant to make her sympathetic? It doesn’t. It makes her look like Dudley when he realizes he didn’t get enough presents as he did the year before.
We’re told that Mac keeps people from the show posted about Zade’s (and hence, the show’s) status, and manages to convince people to refrain from visiting. He makes sure that they stay busy, though: he has the crew build some new sets (which is the excuse for why the show took a hiatus? But that makes no sense because they just premiered a new act? What?) and has the annual maintenance done, which, OK? Zade says that most of the crew were easily convinced not to make a trip out to Tennessee.
Some didn’t care about visiting me at all, though they enjoyed the paid vacation they had been given.
Phonies! They wouldn’t even have that paid vacation if it weren’t for Zade! They should be grateful that she almost died, and show it by showing up in her tiny hometown, even if she’s never interacted with them!
Jackson was the only one who put up a fight about it and was going to come, but then a quick tour opening for Imagine Dragons came up that timed perfectly with our break and his band had to take that.
How convenient. There’s no way this perfectly-timed impromptu tour actually occurred.
Eventually, Team Zade realizes that they need to come up with an explanation as to what was actually wrong with her. They settle on double pneumonia to explain trouble breathing and fainting, and google/Web MD their way to a rare illness called “Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome” which is a “disorder of the blood vessels that can cause excessive bleeding and shortness of breath.” They use this to explain why Zade was bleeding out of her “ears, nose, and mouth.” I would like to take a moment to point out that we never heard about any ear or nose-bleeding, and also (I’m pretty sure) that Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome doesn’t cause massive hemorrhaging from multiple orifices at once. They say that it’s such a rare combination that it confused Dr. Schmidt, and that Zade’s embarrassed about fainting and doesn’t want to talk about it.
Finally, Zade is well enough to return to work. When she gets back, she and Mac arrive at the theater, and he asks her if she’s sure she’s ready for this. Zade assures him she’s fine, and says that it’s been a whole month. She thanks Mac for sticking with her, and handling finding out about magic better than Charles did. They hug, and Mac says he likes her and calls her magi girl
”I would go to Hell for you if it needed to happen.” I think he suddenly realized what he was saying and that, in my world, that could be a real possibility[. . .] “I won’t actually have to do that, will I?”
I couldn’t help but start laughing. “Not this year, anyway, Superman. [. . .]”
Please let the second book include a road trip through Zeb’s domain. Maybe I’ll write it for NaNoWriMo.
But the witty banter continues, and it’s totally not just a 20-year-old Internet meme:
”Guess you’ve come over to the dark side?” I poked teasingly.
“I heard you had cookies,” he replied with a grin plastered to his face.
And all her base are belong to him! And she puts on her robe and wizard hat, and cast lvl. 3 Eroticism, and he turns into a real beautiful woman. See? I can write dialogue that resonates with the youth, too. If by ‘kids,’ you mean people who graduated from high school in 1999.
Zade and Mac begin kissing passionately, but then the camera pans to reveal Tad appears and he humorously clears his throat. They all laugh, and Zade blushes. Tad mocks them, telling them they don’t want to be late on their first day back. Zade hugs Tad, as she hasn’t seen him in a bit.
”You’re glad? I’m ecstatic. The last time I saw you in the flesh you drooled blood all over me.” He said it very matter-of-factly and used his hands to mimic the motion of goo dripping all down his body, while making a disgusted face.
I really have no idea how this is supposed to look, so I couldn’t paraphrase. You guys are on your own on trying to figure out what Tad’s doing here.
Tad reiterates that he’s glad they’re back, and asks if they just got back. Mac answers in a way that will make you feel like you’ve missed something important:
”No, we got back the day before yesterday, but we were running around with all the wedding plans,” Mac said, rolling his eyes. Guys never seem to understand the importance of all the details for a wedding.
Yep, that’s right, Lani’s trying to make us think that Mac and Zade are tying the knot! Spoiler: it’s actually Dela and Charles. This doesn’t get revealed until the next chapter.
So I guess Charles broke up with Sofia? I guess they’ll need to find a new singer for their act.
Mac says that finding a dress was the hardest part, pointing at Zade. He says it’s only one day, ha ha ha, how could it be so important? Zade agrees, but says that it’s an important day for her. Tad asks if she found a dress. I guess Tad knows that Charles and Dela are getting hitched, because he doesn’t seem to have interpreted any of this as meaning that Zade and Mac are getting married.
Zade tells us that she’s done tarot readings to make sure everything will end up OK, and says that things look good, but that’s no guarantee they will be forever.
Tad walks over to the theater doors, and Zade gets nostalgic for that time she auditioned. When they enter the theater, it is uncharacteristically completely dark. But after Zade asks why the lights are off, the stage lights all come on at once. And what does she see?
The entire cast and crew are there! They yell “surprise!” and the whole place is decked out for a party! And while I can understand a workplace party for a coworker who’s recently had severe health issues, the whole surprise party thing is dumb and just done to give a nice visual showing how much everyone loves Zade and affirm that the world revolves around her (#31). Riley comes running to Zade like the human puppy he is, and hugs her so tight she can’t breathe.
Jackson came running up to me next and hugged me and kissed me lightly on the lips. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes. It’s so nice to see you, beautiful!”
Just so you know, Charles is not mentioned being in this scene, although we know he must be back in Vegas, as the show’s starting back up.
But before Jackson can greet Zade any further, she’s pulled away by Cam, and then Pete/Trig. Zeb also gives her a hug and says he’s happy she’s back. Yet again, Zade marvels that Zeb doesn’t hate her after all, and honestly I’ve lost track of how many times this has been established and I don’t care enough to check.
The biggest surprise may have been when Sofia came over, gave me a hug, and told me she was glad I wasn’t dead.
Oh god, Charles totally hasn’t even told Sofia that they’ve broken up yet, has he? I feel like Sofia would have quit/been in a less kind mood if he had. It’s only been a month since Zade’s incident, and Charles is already planning a wedding. That will sting.
So Zade takes another minute to be happy that everyone loves her, and then the scene is over.
In the next scene, Zade asks if the welcome home party was Mac’s idea. Mac says it wasn’t and says that it was Jackson who had the idea. Zade comments on how chill Mac seems to be with Jackson, even though he clearly still has a thing for her, but Mac says that he’s learned that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. Zade wonders out loud if Jackson would still be into her if he knew everything that Mac knows. Mac says she should ask her cards, but Zade says she’s too busy. By which she means “getting busy” with Mac, and they kiss some more, aww, she’s so happy, and that is the end of chapter.