Well, this is it, folks. The final chapter of Handbook for Mortals: Book 1 of the series is upon us, and it is literally three and a half pages long.
Fortunately, we get a teaser chapter that picks up precisely where this one leaves off, so I’ll do them together. Lol no, sorry, real life stuff got in the way and I wanted to get what I’ve written up today, so the excellent teaser chapter which features a prophecy, implies that Zade is the Chosen One, and is more than a little bit transphobic will be up tomorrow/later tonight(?) After those, though, I’m planning to do some post-mortem essays/analyses/predictions for Book 2 of the series over the next week or so, so check for those if you want.
But, without further ado:
Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: Zade recovered from her ordeal while Dela and Charles fell back in love. Then, Zade and Mac returned to Las Vegas, and they talked with Tad about wedding plans. After a welcome-home party for Zade, she and Mac talked about how Jackson still totally wants her, but that he’ll probably have to wait awhile.
”You may now kiss the bride.”
The Nevada sun shone down on the bride and groom, and the breeze blew her hair as their lips met. It was like a perfect sight out of a magazine, and I was pretty sure I had never seen anything more magical—and I knew magick. After a few moments, the bride pulled back and Charles looked at Dela with tears in his eyes.
So opens the final chapter of this horrible novel. Notice how it’s still not explicitly stated who is getting married, even though Zade’s narration sort of implies it’s not her and Mac. Like, yeah, it’s not super hard to figure out that Dela and Charles are the ones getting married, but it’s still ambiguously phrased. Was Lani trying to do a plot twist here? Regardless of the answer, she failed miserably:
If it was meant as twist, it wouldn’t be a surprise regardless of whether was Charles and Dela or Zade and Mac, because both of those possibilities are super obvious. If it was revealed that the bride was Sofia, that would be a twist, because the possibility was never hinted at. It would still be a shitty twist, but it would be a little bit clever.
If it was supposed to be clear that this is the wedding of Charles and Dela by the end of the second sentence, it’s shitty writing because the reader is uncertain if their interpretation is correct. If the reader supposed to be pretty-sure-but-not-quite that it’s Charles and Dela, it’s shitty writing because the big reveal is that the reader’s original interpretation was correct. No matter what Lani’s intention was, it was done horribly.
Anyway, the ambiguity goes on for another fiveish paragraphs. We’re told that Dela and Charles sit at the “high table,” (this doesn’t mean it’s their wedding!) and Zade says they “feel relaxed and happy” and that they’ve “come so far” (neither does this!). Zade spends her time socializing with other guests, and finally, Dela approaches her for a hug:
”I rose up to hug her tightly—my first moment semi-alone with my mother since she had officially become Mrs. Charles Spellman. I already knew she was keeping her own name, though.
This still doesn’t definitively tell us that this is Charles and Dela’s wedding. When I was reading this for the very first time, I was positive it would end up being an actual twist. Like, I thought maybe this chapter takes place years in the future, and it’s actually Zade and (a non-Charles version of) Jackson getting hitched! Maybe Dela and Charles had gotten married months ago, and only returned from their honeymoon for their daughter’s wedding.
Zade says she can’t believe that her mother and Charles got married (again, this can be read as intentional misdirection).
”I never told you this, but I always saw your dad and I getting married. But I also saw that it was only going to happen if he truly changed, which is something I never had faith in.”
“I always knew Donald Trump would be elected president, but I also saw that it was only going to happen if he won states predicted to go blue, which is something I never had faith in.”
Zade says it was an amazing surprise, and Dela says a few clichés about how everything can change in an instant and that things are darkest before the dawn. Zade agrees, and I would also like to point out that this still isn’t necessarily Dela and Charles’ wedding!
Also, here is the final mention of Jackson in this entire novel:
Tom from Jackson’s band got on the mic.
It never says that Jackson is here! Jackson’s last onscreen appearance is at Zade’s party! You’d think that Lani would put her third love-triangle corner in here somewhere, but nope. I wonder why that could be? (It’s because Charles is the one getting married and therefore cannot dress up as him right now).
OK, so, anyway, the reason Tom went up there was to announce that it was time for the bride to toss her bouquet. Dela walks up to the stage, and only now do we definitively find out that this is in fact Dela’s (and therefore Charles’) wedding.
Mac asks if Zade is going to go try to catch it, and she says she doesn’t believe in such silly superstitions. Mac pushes her to go anyway, but Zade is still facing away from the stage and is behind all the other women who are trying to catch the flowers. I bet you’ll never guess what happens, though: Zade turns around just in time to see the bouquet flying right at her, and it lands right in her arms! It takes a while for Zade to figure out that Dela magicked it into her arms, but then she sees Dela smiling mischievously. Dela says that you can’t fight Destiny, and that some things are meant to be (which kind of contradicts that talk about free will, but whatever).
Mac laughs, and Zade considers that this is true. We are now only lines away from the official end of the novel. Now, before you start asking questions, like “So, why was this novel called Handbook for Mortals? There’s nothing in hear about how to deal with the finitude of life, or how to operate in a world where there are beings who are far more powerful than you yourself could ever hope to be. The protagonist is already basically omnipotent. Why wasn’t this called something like A Great and Tarot-ble Beauty? Or The Fault in Our Cards? Or The Fate U Give? It has nothing to do with anything. And wasn’t this originally conceived as a movie? Wouldn’t that make even less sense?”
Well, that gets answered, thankfully. I for one would have probably obsessed over the decision until I came up with a theory that maybe there’s a tarot-related lesson us mortals are meant to take from each chapter, and then I’d have to get really into tarot until I was able to crack the code. Instead, Mac just says a thing that obviously isn’t shoehorned in to justify a name Lani Sarem thought sounded cool.
”Think there’s a book or something out there?” Mac asked.
“Book?” I turned to clarify whether I hand heard the right word. I wasn’t sure what he needed a book for, because I had already caught the bouquet.
“Yeah, you know, like a handbook for mortals, just so I can keep up!” He grinned and winked at me.
I smiled back.“I’ll try to find you one.”
And they lived happily ever after…OR DO THEY?
My bet says no, because I think that this was Mac’s way of telling Zade he has a terminal illness, and was suggesting that she find a copy of Handbook for Mortals to help prepare for his untimely demise.
And that is it! That’s the end of Book 1!
I’ll be back to spork the teaser chapter later, and then this will be over. OR WILL IT?