Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 20: Judgement

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.

 

17 thoughts on “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 20: Judgement

  1. Are you even the protagonist anymore if you literally spend the entire climax of the book unconscious?

    ———
    ”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.
    ———-

    Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me! You laugh because I’m different, I laugh because you’re all the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, if they’d used Rroma for the chanting instead of whatever horrible Slavic mess that was, this would actually be a tiny bit less racially insensitive. A tiny bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me! You laugh because I’m different, I laugh because you’re all the same!

    Yours are so much better. I spent way to long to think of similarly ancient memes, ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Are you even the protagonist anymore if you literally spend the entire climax of the book unconscious?

    She didn’t have anything remotely close to a character arc either. Maybe Zade was always the villain and the readers were her captives. 🤔

    – so, we can now add genetics to the list of Things-Lani-didn’t-bother-to-research?

    Does that mean she should occasionally bleed from every orifice for the rest of her life, along with Charles and Dela? XD

    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!

    It’s fascinating how horrifying the entire family is… Unless Dela was trying to save us all from being exposed to Zade? In which case, I pity her, but she failed. There’s no nicer way to put that.

    God, what I would give to see the unedited version of this book.

    I think the good Doctor took one look at it, but knew he had no power, so he ignored it for a few weeks, then handed it back untouched, waiting to see if LS would even notice. I don’t think she did. Otherwise, perhaps he tackled the better scenes, but gave up in tears, with the rest playing out the same way. I think LS is one of those people who thinks editing is like post-production.

    Alternatively, Schmidt didn’t even ignore the first draft. He took one look and committed suicide, right after he was assigned this train wreck, and no one bothered to check if he finished. Maybe they thought it was cursed, because I can’t believe anyone at Geek Nation opened this file, except for the people formatting it. Maybe they had enough holy water to pull through without speaking in tongues?

    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.

    How did Zade find out about the other third person scenes that crop up earlier in the book? Did she pull those before the accident, without permission, or did she eavesdrop somehow, or did she straight up lie to Mac? None of these paints her in a good light.

    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.

    Not only is this boring, but WTF? Who is willing to lose an hour or more of their precious mortal time, so you can go digging inside their damn head? At least allow them to watch TV, or read something, or mess with their phone! Memory isn’t the only brain function. I have to wonder if it’s actually a reversal of this, and Zade didn’t want to admit that she just sat down beside them, looking like she was waiting for a bus for five hours. Maybe some emotions were too strong to hide, but otherwise she’s literally just watching something herself.

    Or, what if, it really looked as if both people were watching the TV, because looking like something went wrong is the best way to stir up some panic if you decide to pull thoughts in a public place? It’s stupid. Psychic transfer could be like spies handing over documents or something else more exciting, but instead LS is tying one of her MOST USED FORMS OF MAGIC into something that is visually extremely bland and pointless, for some unknown goddamn reason.

    Here’s a theory: what if Zade CAME BACK WRONG, and now she’s a little bit darker and less

    What if Zade has died before, but Lucifer doesn’t want her so he keeps kicking her out of hell, and every time she gets brought back, she becomes worse, because she can’t handle rejection? 😄

    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.

    It’s this new thing called research, Zade. Don’t bother looking though; it doesn’t exist in your world.

    Seriously, this could also be the premise of a better book than what we got. Cutting edge psychic magic as an analogy for technology or something, and innovators gotta innovate! Whoo-whoo! 🙌

    I would just like to point out that this is literally Voldemort methodology.

    I have a confession: I liked the Harry Potter books, but I found Harry Potter the character annoying, especially later on. I’m hoping for a crossover where a grown-up Neville Longbottom and the extant Weasley clan gives Zade her comeuppance in a quiet film noir parody.

    Zade tells us that Charles’ show goes on hiatus while Zade recovers, so Mac and Charles can stay in Tennessee until Zade is well.

    Man, I almost pity them. That must’ve been so boring, even if they snuck off to Nashville a few times. Zade is probably a horrible person to deal with when she’s ill, unless she wants to be left alone most of the time, which I doubt. I’m imagining her acting like even more of a whiny brat and demanding things right and left!

    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?

    “OMG, you guys! I have to tell you about my amazing childhood. So, I’ve always loved butterflies, which is totally unique. And I loved ice cream, and puppies, and summer break, because I hated school! When I was younger, I even lost some of my teeth! I’d put them under my pillow, and get money from a fairy. Isn’t that astonishing? Haha, I even scraped my knee once, but that sucked… and I never wet the bed.”

    “… Okay, that last part does leave me incredulous.”

    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.

    It’d be more compassionate if Zade explained the pain she, Charles, and Dela all went through, while reminiscing about how they could’ve reconciled years ago if they’d only talked to each other. But the past is the past and Zade is just happy they’re both so happy again!

    There, how hard was that? I too used very few sentences and I accomplished more than LS did, towards making her sound kind.

    How convenient. There’s no way this perfectly-timed impromptu tour actually occurred.

    When will Charles confess?! 🍿😃

    They use this to explain why Zade was bleeding out of her “ears, nose, and mouth.”

    She was hauntingly beautiful, while gushing blood from every orifice. 😂

    Please let the second book include a road trip through Zeb’s domain. Maybe I’ll write it for NaNoWriMo.

    Zeb and Chi’s Bodacious Odyssey!

    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.

    I think he’s wiggling his fingers while pushing his arms down and waving his hands around his torso? I can’t imagine him wiggling along with this action, as it’s just too silly for a grown man who isn’t naturally silly. Anyone named Tad could be… but this Tad isn’t. It, um, makes no sense anyway. How did the blood get on him, unless it was under a lot of pressure? Riley and Zeb got slimed! Not Tad.

    Incidentally, his comment is pretty good, although it reminds me of a sitcom. I expected to hear a laugh track, especially when he started adding in some motions. My initial thought was him holding his hands in front of his face and wiggling them like Cthulhu mouth tentacles, because he made it sound like blood was dribbling out of her mouth.

    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.

    I don’t think LS understands mysteries. All of the characters are in on it, but not the reader. It’s ass-backwards! The whole point is to have someone who’s curious, so the reader can find out along with them in a nice, natural progression.

    But no, LS thinks she’s clever at hiding things, as if people will pat her on the back for it. She thinks writing a good twist only happens if she hides damn near everything from her readers, up until the very last minute, long after most people would’ve given up! Then she explains barely anything, with hardly any emotion or detail to keep the reader hooked. Anyone who hung on, hoping for the pay-off, is probably going to be bitterly disappointed.

    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.

    Tarot is literally worthless. What did it ever prove?

    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.

    I think Zeb is just killing her with kindness, because he knows… he knows. One day he’ll give up, and with Lucifer’s agreement, Zeb will make the ultimate sacrifice to get rid of this monstrosity. Then Yahweh will accept him back into heaven, for going through so much suffering for the sake of humanity and the rest of the Earth, and Zeb will be at peace. Amen.

    Zade has no idea though. She just assumes Zeb would hate her divine divinity, incapable of anything more than a hiss and a claw-swipe, while guarding his eyes from her devastating beauty. She’s also shocked he can speak, which is why she just nodded and went along with his cautious warning. She was patronizing him.

    Charles knows less than nothing; he thinks Zeb is some random guy and the best lackey ever. Zeb does, in fact, hate Charles, but he pities Zade, up until he finally understands her.

    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.

    Maybe Sofia knows, and she’s happy that 1) she doesn’t have to put up with his bullshit anymore and 2) she can disappear from the franchise if book 2 becomes some misbegotten reality. Being gracious is her way of showing up Zade the asshole (and staying off her radar.)

    Alternatively, Zade’s family mind-wiped Sofia, and she has no idea that she was dating her boss. Or maybe Sofia is already dating one of his other alternate identities? If Charles=Jackson, this probably isn’t the first time he’s pulled it off! Zade said Charles made up, and he felt bad about cheating, but she never said that he gave up having mistresses.

    Or LS is a shitty, shitty, shitty writer, but I’m glad Sofia is a good, relatively well-adjusted person who doesn’t stomp people that piss her off. (We don’t even know if she actually spread any rumors!) Sofie can hang out with Mel and Zeb, with plenty of unwinding. 😊

    Like

  5. A-fuckin’-men. To everything.

    I don’t think LS understands mysteries. All of the characters are in on it, but not the reader. It’s ass-backwards! The whole point is to have someone who’s curious, so the reader can find out along with them in a nice, natural progression.

    This sort of misdirection is more frequent in TV/movies: usually, it will involve making the audience think that a timeline occurred in a different order than it really did, or mess with locations. Even then, it needs to be done really, really well. Since LS wrote this as a screenplay first, I think that she was trying to emulate that convention. But then, when she went to turn it into a novel, she didn’t realize that certain things that can work onscreen are much harder to pull off in a nonvisual medium. I think that misdirection of this kind can hypothetically work as long as it’s thematically relevant and thoughtfully executed, but requires a third-person POV. But LS wanted to write a YA novel, and everyone knows that YA novels must be in first-person. So we get “twists” that were shitty even when they were meant for the screen, but made even worse by attempting to pull them off with the worst possible medium.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. re: dovecg “She didn’t have anything remotely close to a character arc either. Maybe Zade was always the villain and the readers were her captives.”

    For real — what WAS her character arc supposed to be? The beginning of the book set up that she was searching for a normal life. Fast forward, and she became the star of a Las Vegas Magic Show, found a boyfriend (or two boyfriends) and a posse of friends among her fellow performers, and united with her estranged father. All nice things and a perfectly satisfying progression of events………for another character in another story. She didn’t grow as a person. Her magic skills didn’t improve. If she learned a lesson that normalcy isn’t what she really wanted and she should embrace being special, I must have missed it. Or maybe it’s in the next chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mac, Dela, Charles, and even Sofia had character arcs. I think that the only way Zade changed was that she used to hate Mac, but now she likes him, and that happened in chapter 4.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My friend earns her money by editing self-published books, and one annoyance she’s constantly fighting is the fact her customers refuse to take her advice. She tells them, “this is what you need to fix”, and they’re like, “Nah.”
    And when they send the books back for further revisions, she repeats again, “This is what you need to change” and they’re like, “Nah.”

    So maybe Lani’s editor did try his best to fix what was wrong, but then miss Lani realized by taking his advice, she would have to cut out 90% of the padding she wrote, dropping the official page count down to 150. “Oh no!” Thought Lani. “But then my book won’t look official!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Robert Schmidt actually has a website, complete with a writing sample. He too shares a fondness for em dashes, and modifies a cliche with “as they say.” After reading his ghost writing sample, I can see where a lot of Lani’s literary tics come from. Suddenly, Dovecg’s comment from a while back about (parts of?) the novel being ghostwritten looks more plausible. I don’t want to criticize Schmidt too much, since I’m sure that editing HfM:B1ots would be a nightmare. But I will say that while his writing style works fine for corporate-y blog posts, it doesn’t make for very enjoyable fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Btw, I just realized two things. 1) Zade was given permission to see everything in Charles and Dela’s minds… She’s probably seen them having sex, intentionally or not, if she didn’t already as a kid. Plus, she’s seen Charles banging a bunch of other women, possibly. 2) Maybe Dela kept knocking Zade unconscious, because she kept whining about not being waited on hand and foot. 😝

    the Magic 8 Ball would have given her more practical guidance.

    … Holy shit, you’re right! Hell, the Magic 8 Ball would’ve been more fun and unique too. Even the movie would benefit from that! It’s not as visually exciting from a build-up POV, but the cut-away gags, with the right facial expressions, would be le pièce de résistance! 😂

    For real — what WAS her character arc supposed to be? The beginning of the book set up that she was searching for a normal life. Fast forward, and she became the star of a Las Vegas Magic Show, found a boyfriend (or two boyfriends) and a posse of friends among her fellow performers, and united with her estranged father. All nice things and a perfectly satisfying progression of events………for another character in another story. She didn’t grow as a person. Her magic skills didn’t improve. If she learned a lesson that normalcy isn’t what she really wanted and she should embrace being special, I must have missed it. Or maybe it’s in the next chapter.

    Mac, Dela, Charles, and even Sofia had character arcs. I think that the only way Zade changed was that she used to hate Mac, but now she likes him, and that happened in chapter 4.

    Yeah, every chance for Zade’s personal growth was ignored or down-played. Even the gag-worthy tropes could’ve been okay if our protagonist had simply learned something, and truly found her place in the world, but she didn’t earn anything. Zade was simply showered with pleasant events, doting admirers, and desirable objects, then paraded around until she slipped into a bloody coma after doing nothing. She didn’t learn about breaking Mac’s heart, because it was a Big Misunderstanding, even though she should have, considering she was about as bitchy to him as he was to her.

    I don’t think she even learned about chaos magick. Sure, she learned not to tether herself to people who can run off while she’s in the middle of using it, but she already kind of knew that and it isn’t presented with any resonating emotion, so it rings hollow. Whether or not she’d ever do it again doesn’t matter if no one cares.

    But yeah, I think Zade was supposed to learned how to get along with other people. That also rings hollow, because she doesn’t put any effort into her relationships. The other people change first, which is for the better, but then we don’t see anything that really feels like a difference on Zade’s end. She doesn’t actually care if they like her, even though she might say that she does. Well, I could be wrong about that, but her reactions never left an impact on me anyway.

    It’s funny, but first person was the worst possible POV for this book on so many levels. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case, considering.

    If Zade had been fraternal twin sisters, regular sister, or cousins born only a few years apart, who were foils for one another (one being a mortal longing to be a witkh, and the other an immortal longing to be normal), then this book would’ve improved in leaps and bounds. Even ignoring that, hundreds of things could’ve been improved, just by having Zade learn and grow a bit, but she didn’t. 😦

    Hell, come to think of it, a franchise could’ve been born from her being born as an immortal longing to be normal, then she gets her wish when she marries Mac and has to drop her magic. In subsequent books she finds herself missing her old life and longing to be a witkh again. Then she struggles to find a balance between the two.

    I’m astonished by how many improvements turn up at random as people discuss this book, quite frankly. It goes to show how infinitely lazy and lacking in creativity Lani Sarem is.

    My friend earns her money by editing self-published books, and one annoyance she’s constantly fighting is the fact her customers refuse to take her advice. She tells them, “this is what you need to fix”, and they’re like, “Nah.”
    And when they send the books back for further revisions, she repeats again, “This is what you need to change” and they’re like, “Nah.”

    Ahhh, yeah. That’s not too surprising, though I’m sure it’s very frustrating. To be fair, sometimes things can be contested reasonably well, and in that case a writer should stand up for what they’ve written, but they have to be careful. If the text needs to be justified off the page, that’s not a good sign. I’d guess 80-70% of the time the editor is correct. Even if the author can explain their decision, they probably need to include their response in the book itself. It’s also possible the author doesn’t know how to fix the problem, but it’s not(?) the editor’s job to offer specific suggestions, and they can only recommend whatever they can think of. Sometimes a solution isn’t readily apparent to anyone.

    So maybe Lani’s editor did try his best to fix what was wrong, but then miss Lani realized by taking his advice, she would have to cut out 90% of the padding she wrote, dropping the official page count down to 150. “Oh no!” Thought Lani. “But then my book won’t look official!”

    Hahaha god to be a fly on the wall! That’s probably about right.

    Worst of all, there’s so much great character development that she could replace those meaningless filler pages with! Where does one even begin? Furthermore, to examine it alone and with a deadline looming overhead… I’ve been pouring over the excerpts of this dumb book with all the people who’ve been sporking and commenting these past few weeks. It really has taken time and various inspiration to come up with some of these solutions. I frankly pity the poor bastard who took one look at this manuscript and just… 🙂😐🙁☹️🙁😐😑😫😴😨😯😐😕🤔😨🙄😒😣😔😴

    Plus, arguing with her must have been hell, if he ever had to speak to her directly.

    Or perhaps Geek Nation gave no shits. I mean, they might’ve been complicit in the NYT scandal, so who knows if they truly cared about the book? In which case, he might’ve been told to do what little he could and pass the buck.

    Robert Schmidt actually has a website, complete with a writing sample. He too shares a fondness for em dashes, and modifies a cliche with “as they say.” After reading his ghost writing sample, I can see where a lot of Lani’s literary tics come from. Suddenly, Dovecg’s comment from a while back about (parts of?) the novel being ghostwritten looks more plausible. I don’t want to criticize Schmidt too much, since I’m sure that editing HfM:B1ots would be a nightmare. But I will say that while his writing style works fine for corporate-y blog posts, it doesn’t make for very enjoyable fiction.

    Huh! Does the similarity go beyond punctuation? 😳

    Oh lord… What if this book is so bad, because it’s some unholy chimera of not giving a fuck? Or what if he’s the origin of the Charles=Jackson conspiracy?! AAAHHH. The sky is falling! 🐤💨

    Like

  11. So this is pretty petty and ridiculous but why is this book called “Handbook for Mortals”? I understand that I’m reading recaps and not the entire book, but shouldn’t there be advice or something for us mortal beings? As far as I can remember, we’ve been told that destiny is a thing that happens and fighting it is pointless, and we need to learn life lessons in order to grow (which, lol, thanks Lani, that is brand new information).

    This book really is stupid. The climax is Zade effing up magic because she needed to have an anchor and she chose some dude without telling him and then she bled from her mouth a lot. Said dude stabs her with a magidagger and then she sleeps a bunch. Thrilling and ever so character building.

    Nothing is fleshed out or explained in this mess. For me, the most interesting bit has been the story of how Charles and Dela met. I’d like to know more about their time together before they separated and more about how Dela kept Charles away and from mentioning his daughter to people.

    I can’t wait for Zade to get old, return to Tennessee, and be that sad older woman who continues to dye her hair and wear low rise skinny jeans (with rips in all the right places) in an attempt to hang onto her youth as she does Tarot readings and lets teenagers smoke and drink in her trailer because she’s a “cool” grown up.

    Like

  12. Nothing is fleshed out or explained in this mess. For me, the most interesting bit has been the story of how Charles and Dela met. I’d like to know more about their time together before they separated and more about how Dela kept Charles away and from mentioning his daughter to people.

    Yeah, that’s another option that would’ve made the book a lot better: if LS had written it entirely from Charles (and maybe Dela)’s POV(s) and focused on their lives, with Zade being the bratty young daughter who got caught in the middle. There could be sympathy, resentment, sorrow, anger, and reconciliation, preferably portrayed with way more depth than what we got here. I’d even argue that Charles is the actual protagonist, since in theory he went through the most change of any character.

    I can’t wait for Zade to get old, return to Tennessee, and be that sad older woman who continues to dye her hair and wear low rise skinny jeans (with rips in all the right places) in an attempt to hang onto her youth as she does Tarot readings and lets teenagers smoke and drink in her trailer because she’s a “cool” grown up.

    That would also be a million times better than what’s actually in the book! Seriously, it’d be sad, but really entertaining, especially if she’s crotchety and has to become more mature to look after these teenagers that she’s grown attached to. Really, so much can be done with this premise… It’s downright shameful that someone published this crap and charged money for it. 😦

    Like

  13. So… The book’s summary is actually the WHOLE story… I mean :
    “Zade Holder has always been a free-spirited young woman, from a long dynasty of tarot-card readers, fortunetellers, and practitioners of magick. Growing up in a small town and never quite fitting in, Zade is determined to forge her own path. She leaves her home in Tennessee to break free from her overprotective mother Dela, the local resident spellcaster and fortuneteller.

    Zade travels to Las Vegas and uses supernatural powers to become part of a premiere magic show led by the infamous magician Charles Spellman. Zade fits right in with his troupe of artists and misfits. After all, when everyone is slightly eccentric, appearing ”normal” is much less important.

    Behind the scenes of this multimillion-dollar production, Zade finds herself caught in a love triangle with Mac, the show’s good-looking but rough-around-the-edges technical director and Jackson, the tall, dark, handsome and charming bandleader.

    Zade’s secrets and the struggle to choose between Mac or Jackson creates reckless tension during the grand finale of the show. Using Chaos magick, which is known for being unpredictable, she tests her abilities as a spellcaster farther than she’s ever tried and finds herself at death’s door. Her fate is left in the hands of a mortal who does not believe in a world of real magick, a fortuneteller who knew one day Zade would put herself in danger and a dagger with mystical powers…”
    (summary found on amazon)

    This is not how it is supposed to be done. Not at all.

    Like

  14. Ummm . . . Ohhhhkkkaaayyyy, a performer does her act, gets to the ground and is carted off to the hospital after leaving a pool of blood behind in plain view of the live audience, and the show isn’t shut down by OHSA for months?!?!?!? Are you f-ing kidding me?!?!?!?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s