Handbook for Mortals: Book 2 of the series TEASER (it’s p r o b l e m a t i c)

Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: Zade and Mac went to Charles and Dela’s wedding. Zade caught the bouquet! OR DID SHE?

So, like I said, the teaser chapter begins literally seconds after the first novel ends. This is how the transition is formatted in the Kindle edition:

whatnext

So, here is my theory how this happened:

Lani ended the screenplay with Dela, Charles, Mac, and Zade all living happly ever after. But then, because she was told that she should novelify it into a YA franchise, she extended the novel’s conclusion to include a hook for future books. But then, someone told her that the original ending worked much better, and that the sequel hook ought to be relegated to the beginning of the second novel. And then, Lani was just like “lolk,” put in some bold lettering saying that everything that happens next is from the next book, and figured that was sufficient.

Although, I guess this is preferable to several pages musing on the nature of Destiny, like how Book 1 of the series started out. Maybe she’ll figure it out someday.

Now, back to our story.

Mac walks off, and Dela takes the opportunity to come say hi to Zade. But before either of them can say anything, Dela’s smile is gone. Zade realizes that something behind her has disturbed Dela, so she turns around to see a “handsome older man with beautiful eyes.”

The suit he wore was perfectly tailored—he was a magician if I have ever seen one

1) Is Zade saying he’s a magician the sense that Charles is? We’ve never heard anyone from the magical world referred to as a “magician” before; Dela said that she and Zade come from “witches” and “tarot readers,” but the nomenclature (beyond the distinction between “magic” and “magick” has never been properly addressed. I would assume that he is a magician in the sense that Charles is, since he’s described similarly to Charles, but, um, I think he can do real magic.

2) I am sure that there are plenty of handsome older men in perfectly-tailored suits at this celebrity wedding. Are all of them magicians?

Zade thinks that this older gentleman looks familiar, but she can’t place him. Dela can, though, and she greets him in a way that is maybe orientalist (if not racist), and I am pretty sure that it’s transphobic.

”Namaste, Aunt Aldyth,” Dela said in happy surprise. “I didn’t realize you actually came. I feel blessed. It’s so good to see you. I am honored you made the trip all the way from England!”

Wew. Now, you might argue, perhaps Aunt Aldyth is genderqueer and prefers female pronouns. Maybe AA is a trans man, and Dela never really figured out how that works. Maybe “Aunt” is a gender-neutral term in the Wizarding World. As for that Namaste, maybe Aldyth is Indian. Maybe Aldyth just a yoga instructor whom Dela used to take classes with. We’ll have to find out, I guess.

Also, is Dela genuinely happy to see Aldyth? I got the impression she was a little bit startled (and not in a happy way) when she saw them. Oh well. Dela asks Zade if she remembers her “great Aunt Aldyth.”

This sparks Zade’s memory, and she remembers:

I had never quite understood why we called him my aunt. I once asked my mom and she made it clear that he had always been a male. I guess as a child he wore make-up and female clothing and so his nickname was a joke that stuck. I had always been fascinated by him, although I was never around him much as a child—or as an adult.

WEW. I am unsure if Aldyth’s childhood affinity for female clothing is meant to make him come off as quirky or creepy or what. Also, “Aldyth” is a female name, so I don’t know if Aldyth is really his name? I’m not sure if the long-standing “joke” nickname is meant to make him unnerving or endearing or if we’re supposed to infer that girl clothes as a kid means he’s gay? And Zade was “fascinated” by him growing up? That combined with Dela’s greeting of “namaste” really comes off as exoticization, which always makes me uncomfortable. I will reserve judgement a little bit, but based on how much research Lani put into Romani culture (0), her treatment of gender issues (regressive) and her ability to intentionally write something interesting (1/10), I really can’t see Aldyth’s story being handled well, even if Lani’s trying to tell a story about a genderqueer person dealing with their identity as an old aristocratic British man/powerful sorcerer. Which actually could be interesting, if the proper thought were put into it. Oh well.

”I do remember visiting with you at Solstice events when I was younger.” I nodded, not even realizing that my mom had invited him to her wedding.

I don’t know what that means. Does Zade think that Aldyth wasn’t invited? Is she wondering why he’s here? I don’t know.

Aldyth hugs Zade and gives her a kiss on the cheek, but then talks to Dela more. He says that he wanted to leave Dela alone for most of the wedding because he doesn’t want to “ruin her bliss.” So does that mean that Dela doesn’t like Aldyth? Whatever the case is, Aldyth says that he is here because of Zade (WRAZ 32!)

Dela gets super concerned, and Aldyth “scoffs”. Which makes me think we’re not supposed to like Aldyth too much. He goes on to say that Dela is being naïve, and that he knows she’s seen the cards and is also concerned. Dela asks him if he has any more info. But Zade cuts in, and demands to know what they’re talking about.

Aldyth “narrows his eyes” at Zade, and says

”There is a strange and powerful force of magick in you. What happened in the theater that day is proof of it. The fact that you survived is further proof.”

WRAZ 33! See, this is one of those times that I really wish Zeb had been around more to coach Zade about Real Magic, and maybe try to dissuade her from attempting such difficult magic at all. The only bit in Book 1 of the series is that touches on Zade being above-average in power is the obviously-edited-in scene with Lambo Girl. This just comes off like it’s a total ass-pull, which I’m going to go out on a limb and say it definitely is. Because Zade has to be ~special~.

Zade is super confused too. But thankfully Aldyth clarifies.

”There were prophecies foretold about magick as strong as yours,” Aunt Aldyth continued. “There will be many white, black, and grey magick entities vying for you and your power.”

There’s a prophecy (WRAZ 34)!! I bet that the climax for the next book will be that some evil entity wants to sacrifice Zade to destroy the world. Maybe she’ll be awake this time. Maybe she won’t. This sequel cannot come out fast enough.

Also, there has been zero mention of magic being “dark” or “light” or “grey” or whatever. If only Zeb had been around to caution Zade about going to the dark side, or something?

Dela asks how she didn’t see this coming, because she did know about the prophecies.

”It was cloaked in the deepest of secrets. It was not known by anyone until the proper time.”

But Dela just said that she should have figured it out on her own? And in this case, that knowledge isn’t “cloaked in secrets;” it is a secret. Maybe Dela’s bluffing, though, and that’s one of the reasons why she didn’t want Zade to leave. It sure would have been nice if any of this had been remotely hinted at during one of the many opportunities it had to be hinted at.

Aldyth says that he always knew Zade was special (WRAZ 35). Dela asks if “the boy” had anything to do with it, and Aldyth says that he thinks so, but that there are “others who are near and know for sure, and could have affected things even more.” Is Aldyth talking about Zeb, when he did his whispery spell thing? Jackson? Lambo Girl? I guess we’ll find out in Book 2.

Zade says that she doesn’t get what Dela and Aldyth are talking about. For some reason, this prompts Zade to ask if she and Mac are destined to be together.

But Aldyth says it means “the opposite of that:”

”Both you and this Mac person have several paths that will present themselves in due time. There is a pth that will lead you two together, but not before each of you have gone on your own journey. Nothing is certain. It is not known if the two of you will be together. There are others—magical ones even—nearby for both of you.”

Aldyth is getting me so hyped for book 2. I bet Lambo Girl seduces Mac and brainwashes him, just like Queen Beryl did to Tuxedo Mask in the first season of Sailor Moon. I bet there’s a creepily eroticized scene where he tries to kill her, because I feel like Lani Sarem would find that sexy.

”I feel like I just stepped into an episode of The Twlight Zone,” I whispered, overwhelmed.

Funny, I feel like she just stepped out of an episode of the Twilight saga—and into a really bad fanfiction for like probably Charmed? I don’t know, I’ve never seen it. My point is that the Twilight saga was awful partly because it was boring, but Book 2 of the series has potential to get really ridiculous and horrible and thus a million times better.

Zade says that she was hoping to get back to a normal life, but it looked like things weren’t going to go that way. For some reason, the comment about her and Mac definitely breaking up doesn’t throw her for a loop (if I were her, that would honestly be the most troubling thing for me).

Aldyth says that he hopes there isn’t anyone else who knows about Zade’s existence.

For some reason I instantly recalled the strange girl I had run into at the mall a few months earlier.

Hmm I wonder why this may have prompted Zade to think about the wacky Lambo Girl who challenged her to a magical duel and cackled a lot about how powerful she is?

Zade tells Aldyth about Lambo girl and their battle. Aldyth looks gravely concerned, and says that it’s troubling and “worth looking into”. NO, REALLY?

But then Mac returns. He asks Zade who the new guy is, and Zade introduces him as her Great Aunt Aldyth. Aldyth says hello, and Mac says it back. Then he looks to Zade, and asks for clarification about the whole “aunt” thing.

Zade says it’s a “magick thing” and that she’ll explain it more later.

Which, um, no? It’s a weird joke-nickname because he liked crossdressing as a kid? Unless the Wizarding World has different conventions about gender? I don’t know.

Aldyth appears to enjoy the “nickname,” though, as he affirms that he is indeed “Aunt” Aldyth. But he quickly moves onto more important things, and has everyone start to hold hands. For magic! Right after saying the thing about needing to remain discrete! It makes sense? The “spell” is dumb:

”Powers that be, show thy strength,” Aldyth began.

And then a ton of lightning hits a ton of trees, igniting all of them! There is no word on whether everyone else at this presumably rather high-profile wedding is alarmed about this, but Mac asks if Zade did it. Zade says she thinks that the significance of this will be revealed by Aunt Aldyth and Dela soon, because they’re whispering to each other.

“But that’s probably the least of our worries. . .”

Says Zade, which is untrue because that whole thing was probably relevant to the whole Chosen One Zade thing, and is therefore the most concerning thing at the moment. But then the book ends FOR REAL, and oh my god, I’ve done it. It’s really over.

Verdict: this book sucks. If there’s a sequel or a movie, you know where to find me. Over the next few days or so, I’m going to post some more content, so look out for that if you feel like it.

 

 

14 thoughts on “Handbook for Mortals: Book 2 of the series TEASER (it’s p r o b l e m a t i c)

  1. WEW. I am unsure if Aldyth’s childhood affinity for female clothing is meant to make him come off as quirky or creepy or what. Also, “Aldyth” is a female name, so I don’t know if Aldyth is really his name? I’m not sure if the long-standing “joke” nickname is meant to make him unnerving or endearing or if we’re supposed to infer that girl clothes as a kid means he’s gay? And Zade was “fascinated” by him growing up? That combined with Dela’s greeting of “namaste” really comes off as exoticization, which always makes me uncomfortable. I will reserve judgement a little bit, but based on how much research Lani put into Romani culture (0), her treatment of gender issues (regressive) and her ability to intentionally write something interesting (1/10), I really can’t see Aldyth’s story being handled well, even if Lani’s trying to tell a story about a genderqueer person dealing with their identity as an old aristocratic British man/powerful sorcerer. Which actually could be interesting, if the proper thought were put into it. Oh well.

    In hindsight, I believe Aunt Aldyth is just Lani Sarem’s answer for a wizard mentor character, particularly one in the vein of Gandolf/Dumbledore, with hints of Saruman. The queer baiting might be based on Rowling’s comment that Albus Dumbledore was gay, even though it never really came up in the Harry Potter series.

    That said, Aunt Aldyth is absolutely fascinating, and if Dela and Zade were actually Rroma, it could be even more fascinating if his immediate family was more recently from India and became British (but then it’d make more sense if he wasn’t directly related to Dela, but a really distant cousin or great aunt of some sort?) Or he could be from Israel! That would be pretty cool. Or keep him as Zade’s Aunt, and I guess Dela’s brother, but instead of Namaste, use whatever an appropriate greeting would be in Rromani, Yiddish, Modern Hebrew, Russian, Croatian or Bosnian.

    Or maybe he’s a potentially British Indian mentor, because Lani Sarem read Tiger’s Curse?

    WRAZ 33! See, this is one of those times that I really wish Zeb had been around more to coach Zade about Real Magic, and maybe try to dissuade her from attempting such difficult magic at all. The only bit in Book 1 of the series is that touches on Zade being above-average in power is the obviously-edited-in scene with Lambo Girl. This just comes off like it’s a total ass-pull, which I’m going to go out on a limb and say it definitely is. Because Zade has to be ~special~.

    Yeah, maybe Zeb was supposed to be Zade’s mentor, but LS completely forgot to do that? Which could’ve been cool and created a lot of natural world building, instead of the BS filler she slopped in.

    There’s a prophecy (WRAZ 34)!! I bet that the climax for the next book will be that some evil entity wants to sacrifice Zade to destroy the world. Maybe she’ll be awake this time. Maybe she won’t. This sequel cannot come out fast enough.

    But… wait. Doesn’t a sacrificial ritual bring her back to life? lol 😄

    This is what happens when LS uses dopey magick cliches out of their usual context, and then doesn’t bother to explain jack shit. She actually can’t do that now, or well, she can, but it’s going to be super jarring and inconsistent.

    But Dela just said that she should have figured it out on her own? And in this case, that knowledge isn’t “cloaked in secrets;” it is a secret. Maybe Dela’s bluffing, though, and that’s one of the reasons why she didn’t want Zade to leave. It sure would have been nice if any of this had been remotely hinted at during one of the many opportunities it had to be hinted at.

    I think this confusing state arrived via LS’s inability to let Dela be wrong or ignorant about anything, while trying to present her as clueless or incorrect. On the one hand, there are some people who simply refuse to accept they made a mistake, and on the other there are people who just have trouble communicating what they meant. Both of these can be a perpetual problem or a an occasional one. I have both issues happen more than I’d like to admit, but what we’re seeing here is neither, because LS doesn’t handle subtlety or human nature very well, especially when it comes to confusion in a conversation or situation.

    Because of this hamfisted portrayal, we don’t know WTF is happening, or why Dela would know in the first place. I mean, yeah, she uses Tarot all the time, but it never really tells us anything. So it’s a combination of LS being unable to let a Tarot card reading be wrong, only too vague, and Dela can’t make a simple mistake, so Auntie has to excuse the stupidity of LS’s writing with bullshit.

    I personally don’t understand why LS didn’t have Dela make the connections, unless as you said, she’s bluffing, but then why would she do that? All she’d have to do is tell Zade that this is why she tried to trap her at home for years! Maybe LS forgot that Dela did that? She also forgot that Charlie had a spell on him, to keep him from talking about his bastard child, so that seems plausible.

    LS probably doesn’t know that you can make notes of important details in a separate document and use it as personal reference material, considering she abhors research, or else has no idea what research is. It’d also explain the massive inconsistencies that were never cleaned up, to some extent.

    Aldyth is getting me so hyped for book 2. I bet Lambo Girl seduces Mac and brainwashes him, just like Queen Beryl did to Tuxedo Mask in the first season of Sailor Moon. I bet there’s a creepily eroticized scene where he tries to kill her, because I feel like Lani Sarem would find that sexy.

    Shit… There was that single rose hitting the stage. Hrmm… Well, if she does that, it’ll be way more interesting than this shit, and proof brainwashing can be done with magick (meaning that Zade and fam have probably used it before!)

    ”I feel like I just stepped into an episode of The Twlight Zone,” I whispered, overwhelmed.

    “The Twlight Zone is a special place where you’re handed your destiny scroll, and when you read it, you’ll know everything! But for some reason, mine just has a blank, reflective surface, and I look so stunning today, but I don’t get it. What does it mean? And why is this stupid, fat panda standing beside me? He says he’s the Dragon Warrior… OMG IT TALKS AHH KILL IT WITH FIRE OH SHIT IT KNOWS KARATE”

    Zade says that she was hoping to get back to a normal life, but it looked like things weren’t going to go that way. For some reason, the comment about her and Mac definitely breaking up doesn’t throw her for a loop (if I were her, that would honestly be the most troubling thing for me).

    Well, she never said she loves him… 😃🥁

    I find this so amusing, since she would’ve been way more concerned about deciding between Mac and Jackson, wondering if this means she should be with Jackson instead, except giving a shit about the forces of destruction finally becomes as meaningful as it should’ve been earlier! Maybe it’s because Zade doesn’t honestly think another woman could be a threat to her? It’d explain why she “for some reason suddenly thinks of Lambo” after all and dismissed her out of hand before. But now a MAN is telling her to be concerned, so she is!

    I guess Zeb doesn’t count? Poor Zeb. Come to think of it, maybe she should’ve brought up Lambo girl when the poor guy was “accosting” her and trying to make Zade see reason about chaos being a bad idea in front of an audience who haven’t signed waivers for that shit?

    Which, um, no? It’s a weird joke-nickname because he liked crossdressing as a kid? Unless the Wizarding World has different conventions about gender? I don’t know.

    She can’t make up her fucking mind about anything, but I like how Zade immediately lies to Mac, without hesitation. Although, if Aldyth likes being called Aunt, he could’ve simply explained it. I have a feeling it’s more personal than Zade let on, or else Aldyth was trying to be professional and also keep his fucking privacy. More importantly, I’m sure Zade’s answer for Mac will be just as offensive as what she was thinking earlier and that’s the real reason she didn’t want to talk about it.

    Also, it’d maybe require research and I’m assuming Aldyth isn’t important enough to stick around as an actual mentor figure for Zade. She needs a hottie to teach her! Like Jackson… whut?

    And then a ton of lightning hits a ton of trees, igniting all of them! There is no word on whether everyone else at this presumably rather high-profile wedding is alarmed about this, but Mac asks if Zade did it. Zade says she thinks that the significance of this will be revealed by Aunt Aldyth and Dela soon, because they’re whispering to each other.

    I think they’re talking about Zade behind her back, right in front of her, and they used the lightning as a distraction! 😏

    But seriously, wtf? What does that even mean? Ever? And did LS just do that because there’s a burning bush in the Quran/Bible/Torah? I’m betting they’re whispering so LS doesn’t have to come up with some garbage pseudo interpretations for the readers.

    To sum up, I like Aunt Aldyth, but I don’t like what the poor guy is peddling, and I blame LS. 😅

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  2. All I have to say is that if Book 2 ever happens – and considering the Drama (TM), I seriously doubt if Lani Sarem will write it – I will be HERE for your reviews!

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  3. All I have to say is that if Book 2 ever happens – and considering the Drama (TM), I seriously doubt if Lani Sarem will write it – I will be HERE for your reviews!

    It looks like she still plans to write the second book AND use the same “promotional” tactics to sell it.

    DAMN. Lani Sarem and Whats-His-Face are so unabashed and eager to lie! It’s disconcerting, but hilarious and pathetic. I love the various little digs from the quotes in this article.

    Adapting the screenplay was challenging. “My grammar isn’t always the greatest,” she told me. Sarem had to hire three different editors to help pull the book into shape. She took pains to make sure it mirrored the script as much as possible. According to a person who read both the script and the book, Sarem said she had promised Carrot Top a part in the film, therefore she had to include him in the book as well.

    Oh crap! Schmidt wasn’t alone! I bet two of her editors quit or got fired… Unless they weren’t editors at all. Maybe she did hire at least one ghostwriter. 😨

    … Zeb?! Were you one of them? 😏

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  4. She took pains to make sure it mirrored the script as much as possible. According to a person who read both the script and the book, Sarem said she had promised Carrot Top a part in the film, therefore she had to include him in the book as well.
    This actually makes me wonder if Jackson was always in there

    Also, that bit about Carrot Top made me wonder if she had originally cast him as Zeb. Because Zed is described as red-haired. I really doubt this, but I feel like Carrot Top playing a potentially evil/wise magic dude would be must-see material.

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  5. Also, that bit about Carrot Top made me wonder if she had originally cast him as Zeb. Because Zed is described as red-haired. I really doubt this, but I feel like Carrot Top playing a potentially evil/wise magic dude would be must-see material.

    Carrot Top as Zeb would be amazing, amusing, and a huge shot in the arm for the script! 💖

    But I doubt that was her intention. This is kind of how I picture Zeb. This is also a great expression for him IMHO. The guy looks pretty hot and slightly sketchy, which is probably what LS was after, since Zeb is supposed to have uncertainty surrounding his actions. I know she didn’t describe facial hair, but the only one she mentions in that regard is Mac, so it’s up in the air if Zeb is clean-shaven or bearded or mustachioed.

    This guy isn’t quite what I picture, but he’d make an awesome wizard. I also thought maybe Zeb has burgundy or some other darker, intense, true red for his hair and a black goatee and eyebrows, that aren’t dyed, like Monstroso from The Venture Brothers. (Sorry, best immediate image I could find of his hair when it’s loose. I couldn’t tell if his regular ponytail had a hornless skullcap over the hair.)

    Also, perhaps Zeb was inspired by the Weasley clan? Most notably Ron. He is a wet-blanket and the only sensible person in the building, plus the only other person that we see using magick on the sly (unless of course that was unintentional, since Zade would presumably recognize a spell when she sees it… well, in theory anyway. It’s hard to tell what was intended, but why else would he give her some kind of grave warning and right before her chaos magick fucks up?)

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  6. This actually makes me wonder if Jackson was always in there

    Maybe Charles was the one who got expanded for the novel? But then the ending wouldn’t make any sense. Also, Jackson Rathbone doesn’t seem to like Lani Sarem that much, and she changed his name slightly, before dumping him into a different band than his own, whereas Carrot Top is just himself for a cameo. I don’t think she expects his part to be played by the man who inspired her.

    So it’s safer to assume that Jackson is a misbegotten expy and a later inclusion. Remember, LS said those three editors helped her whip this thing into shape, which is a complete lie. I think some of them got fired for demanding big changes, and only Mr. Schmidt was willing to toe the line, because he didn’t care. Or they were actually ghost-writers who did what they could with her script/novella. If they knew what she was like, they could easily write her as she is, while trying to give this a nice presentation. Some scenes are a little too on the nose, so it could go either way. Possible both ways! Maybe one of them was a ghost writer, one was an editor who gave up, and one was Mr. Schmidt. 🤔

    Most importantly, we must remember that Lani Sarem will only tell us enough of the truth to try and trick us into believing her side of the story.

    Also, Charles thinks that if you give people just enough information, that will help keep them from putting too much thought into the matter.

    Mac saw how good Charles and Dela both were at making sure people only ever learned what they wanted them to—even though they made everyone feel like they knew everything.

    This isn’t even from Zade, it’s from Mac. Presumably since she saw the same thing inside of her father’s head, it’s basically the truth of what Mac approves of and how Charles handles other people. Zade also presumably admires this mode of operation, since Mac’s memory is being sifted through her POV, based on how Lani Sarem is handling this debacle. She’s not angry about people hating her book for it’s slapdash content; she never had any real consideration for how others would respond. She’s angry that she couldn’t fool them, but she’s willing to try again, to see if a subtler take will stick with the next book in this unfathomable series.

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  7. Wow, that first guy is kind of dashing! He looks a bit young for Zeb, whom I picture as being older. Having long, darker red hair would also be a great look on him, as would a red beard.

    But I have to admit, I always pictured Zeb as Rorschach from the Watchmen Movie. The whole unkempt/old fashioned look + the general air of sketchiness seemed to fit.

    Also, as is stated in the Malleus Maleficarum , red haired dudes are definitely emmisaries of the Big Bad of Greek Mythology Typhon (and also vampires?):

    <a href=" "Those whose hair is red, of a certain peculiar shade, are unmistakably vampires. It is significant that in ancient Egypt, as Manetho tells us, human sacrifices were offered at the grave of Osiris, and the victims were red-haired men who were burned, their ashes being scattered far and wide by winnowing-fans. It is held by some authorities that this was done to fertilize the fields and produce a bounteous harvest, red-hair symbolizing the golden wealth of the corn. But these men were called Typhonians, and were representatives not of Osiris but of his evil rival Typhon, whose hair was red.

    God dammit I want Zeb to be an “un-fallen” demon. Incidentally, does this not look like the face of a demon?

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  8. Wow, that first guy is kind of dashing! He looks a bit young for Zeb, whom I picture as being older. Having long, darker red hair would also be a great look on him, as would a red beard.

    True, Zeb’s probably as old as Charles… Although, if he is magick, perhaps he looks younger? I was just trying to find something roughly equivalent. I agree he’d look great with long, dark red hair and a red beard. 🙂

    But I have to admit, I always pictured Zeb as Rorschach from the Watchmen Movie. The whole unkempt/old fashioned look + the general air of sketchiness seemed to fit.

    Oh, god, yes! He’s perfect. Haha, possibly even some of Rorschach’s personality? Well, nonetheless, maybe some combination of the two looks? Long hair can be unkempt too, but even if it’s short, having it as a more vibrant, robust color would be very theatrical, from a casting and character-building angle, and it would help with his mysterious nature. He wants to be very visible, yet he likes to keep his privacy. It’s an interesting combination. 😄

    Also, as is stated in the Malleus Maleficarum , red haired dudes are definitely emmisaries of the Big Bad of Greek Mythology Typhon (and also vampires?):

    I swear, I found some page that mentioned

    Medieval antisemitism

    During the Spanish Inquisition, people of red hair were identified as Jewish and isolated for persecution.[27] In Medieval Italy and Spain, red hair was associated with the heretical nature of Jews and their rejection of Jesus, and thus Judas Iscariot was commonly depicted as red-haired in Italian and Spanish art.[28] Writers from Shakespeare to Dickens would identify Jewish characters by giving them red hair, with red-hair being given by the authors to villainous Jewish characters such as Shylock and Fagin.[29] The antisemitic association persisted into modern times in Soviet Russia.[30] The medieval prejudice against red-hair may have derived from the Ancient biblical tradition, in relation to biblical figures such as Esau and King David. The Ancient historian Josephus would mistranslate the Hebrew Torah to describe the more positive figure of King David as ‘golden haired’, in contrast to the negative figure of Esau, even though the original Hebrew Torah implies that both King David and Esau had ‘fiery red hair’.[71]

    I find this part hilarious, because Zade is Jewish. Also, she and Dela both reference King David from the bible (albeit somewhat incorrectly.)

    Also, this is quite interesting, given the Bosnian/Croatian chanting, as is this, although the comment about the Thracian-Slavs is rejected/dismissed here. And it’s grasping at straws to call this relevant, but I find it amusing. This brushes across pretty much everything the Wikipedia article mentioned. Also, more despising than just claims of witchcraft.

    God, I’m mildly obsessed, because there’s some claim here that Celts once covered much of Europe and there’s some discussion of whether Norse Vikings simply brought Celts from the British Isles back home with them, or if the Vikings brought the gene to the British Isles, but either one might work since the red haired gene for both groups is mostly linked to Haplogroup R1b, instead of the currently more prominent across Europe Haplogroup R1a. Although at this point, my eyes are glazing over, so maybe I missed something. I could swear I read somewhere previously that the Greeks deemed red hair magical in general and while trying to dig that up again, I got too greedy and I delved too deep! It’s interesting, but a huge tangent. 😥

    God dammit I want Zeb to be an “un-fallen” demon.

    I guess a repentant demon would be a better term?

    Same! On a similar note, what if Zeb is a former Djinn, imprisoned by King David, and released by Charles, to do his bidding? It’d make even more sense for Zeb to want to befriend the crew, since it gives him a sense of normalcy to hide behind and enjoy, while being hesitant about getting too close to the more cyclical members of the cast. This makes more sense in the context of Zade’s name, the potential for a tale within a tale, and the references to King David. Plus, the Djinn could be good or bad; it depended entirely on the individual Djinn. This would make it easier for Zeb to not only be pious, but to want repentance, I think. Fewer people will question a Djinn turning around. The only issue is the whole Jewish versus Muslim thing, but wouldn’t that actually make sense as a bit of contention between magickal groups? Although this requires as much gentle care as the Rroma origin for Zade and Dela does.

    Or what if Zeb is secretly Thor? lol

    Incidentally, does this not look like the face of a demon?

    OMG! Did he have a botched facelift too?! He looks terrifying… Getting ripped didn’t help with that either. Ugh. And his hair seems like a wig. He just looks all wrong, for some reason. 😨

    Maybe if he was wearing something else, and viewed from a different perspective? Oh god no, I take it back! Ahhh! But at least he’s more openly devilish, instead of just weird. 😲

    His hair still resembles a wig though… I’m not sure why. Then again, I don’t know much about wigs.

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  9. I am always down for more djinn. I want Zade to summon Bartimaeus (from the wonderful series by Jonathan Stroud which I recently reread, actually) and he can find a way to insult Zade every chapter.

    Zeb is so much fun though. Sarem could have done such fun stuff with him, but I guess Zade and her love triangle had to take center stage.

    Oh, and I think I might know why she used Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (which, fun fact, are actually all the same language) because she’s friends with a Bosnian/serbian/Croatian family. She thanks them in the acknowledgements :

    “To Dimitrije Curcic, for more things than I can’t even count and also for loving me when wasn’t very loveable. To Gordan Vuchovich and Nana and Alex Curcic for always treating me like family”

    So maybe they helped her? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

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  10. I am always down for more djinn. I want Zade to summon Bartimaeus (from the wonderful series by Jonathan Stroud which I recently reread, actually) and he can find a way to insult Zade every chapter.

    Zeb is so much fun though. Sarem could have done such fun stuff with him, but I guess Zade and her love triangle had to take center stage.

    Haha maybe the potential revision/fanfic sections could involve some cross-overs, or that general idea? Because that’d be so awesome if Zade had a snide djinn trying to help her dumb ass (or alternatively, Zeb being snide to Charles up until he gets handed off to Zade, to help her save the world!) He easily could’ve been the hero, if her entire family was evil/problematic. XD

    She could be a dark Chosen One in the vein of Darth Vader maybe. No one said she was good. She even references the dark side, which was meant as humor, but could be a matter of glib acceptance. 😛

    The more I think about it, the more sensible it’d be to have Zeb as a djinn, especially since they interact quite normally with people in the Arabian Nights, beyond the whole magic and imprisonment deal in a few stories. Hell, what if Zade and Dela are also djinn? They call themselves witchkhas, but that might be their way of owning a pejorative! And since the djinn have free will and some of them aren’t Muslims, well, lol, they could claim to be Jewish! Even Zeb could be Jewish (although that unfavorable stereotype about red-heads Jews could be problematic, but… it could be an intentional subversion? Since Zeb is kind, pacifistic, and level-headed, as far as we’ve seen.)

    Similarities to Judaism

    Besides angels, Jewish lore notices other types of supernatural creatures including Shedim, which are akin to the Islamic concept of Jinn. They are said to eat, drink, procreate, and die, are also mostly invisible and in some accounts, they inhabited the earth before mankind until human beings replaced them, similar to the Jinn in Islam.[72][73] In addition the Shedim are also mentioned helping Solomon building the first temple. Their king Asmodeus appears both in Islamic lore and in the Talmud as a rebel against Solomon.[39]

    The shedim are not always seen as malicious creatures and are also considered to be helpful to humans. They are said to be even able to live according to the Torah, like Asmodeus.[10]

    I’m sold! 😊

    And now I’m kinda tempted to write a Zeb-centric fanfic, but I must resist. 😣

    Hrmm… I’d be awfully tempted to make him bisexual, with a thing for Cam too, but god, that complicates it all so much more. If it’s just something in the background though, who knows? Ahhh, I need to stop before I get hooked.

    Very interesting article. I did remember reading that Croatian had a bunch of dialects and perhaps this is actually why? Even if they’re extremely similar languages, some words could differ, just not on a level that most people would presume another language. Perhaps that’s how they want to move forward? I never looked deeper into this matter before, but it bears some consideration (well, for me. It has no direct impact on this shitty novel.)

    So maybe they helped her? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

    Hrmmm! I’m thinking she maybe did a tiny bit of research? I think the Rroma are stereo-typically linked to Transylvania/Romania via horror such as vampires. But also, the region where Bosnia and Croatia are today could connect with the crossroads between India, the Middle East, and Europe. Some of the old Slavic pagan deities may have been inspired by Hindu gods (as well as the Greek/Roman ones and I think maybe Zoroastrianism? It’s been awhile since I read any of that and it may only be very specific deities.) Then Christianity became prominent and almost entirely wiped out the old religion in the area, so not a lot is known for certain about their former religion, far as I can tell.

    I think the main feature is just that it sounds European, but it’s not one of the languages that most people have heard to some extent (Spanish, French, Italian, German, Irish, or Russian), especially in connection to fantasy, and to be fair, the Rroma will also probably pick up whatever the dominant language in a region if they settle there. It’s possible she just knew these people, talked about her book at some point, and decided to choose their language predominantly while using Google Translate for that one sentence. I sorta doubt they helped directly, but who really knows?

    I’m more curious as to how she befriended them and what they think of her, but the easiest answer could be co-workers or neighbors who are friendly enough to be acquaintances (or maybe they’re at a local guitar sing-along that she goes to, though she’d probably only attend one of those if she viewed herself as a folksy sort of person, I guess?)

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  11. Ohhhh wait, or what if Dela and Zade are Peri or Daeva? But that might be overly complicated. They could just be fairies, to make it simpler, but then that’s sort of what a Peri is. Don’t know if there’s something else in Judaism that counts. Unless Dela and Zade think they’re Shedim or even Angels, and specifically different, while Zeb considers himself both a Shedim and a Djinn? Kinda depends on whether he converts to Islam, I guess. Ahhh… Okay, I’ll stop.

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  12. Great summary! I’m severely jet-lagged, and this gave me much needed entertainment for hours. I love this metanarrative, and am enjoying the commenters attempts to improve the story through interpretations that the author would never have even imagined. Someone she rewrite it to be truly great.

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