Angelfall: You Know Nothing, Snow White (Part II)

CONTINUED FROM PART ONE: https://racheliliffe.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/angelfall-you-know-nothing-snow-white-part-i/

*~*~*

Chapter Twenty-Four

The next day the morning sun caresses Snow’s strands of mahogany and honey. Yay for purple prose!

After a few pages of describing the supply situation, Pen and Snow wander off and find some dead children hanging from trees, accompanied by a crying couple, the male half of whom she instantly knows was a loser in high school. Because he looks like one!

The couple argues about their son, who they’ve apparently been feeding children too, and Pen and Snow wander off again. I’m sure this will have a point later on, but right now I’m drumming my fingers against my desk.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Pen asks Snow if the couple were feeding the ‘low demons’—when they’d said outright it was their son. Maybe he’s a low demon? Snow, of course, knows nothing.

Then Pen asks him if he’s married. Seriously.

He isn’t, due to his Night’s Watch vows, and the fact that the love between humans and angels create monstrosities; like Hush, Hush, and A Beautiful Dark.

Anyway, after hiding from Obi-Wan and some angels, neither of whom notice them or each other, Pen and Snow resume their travels.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Our heroes make it to San Francisco thanks to a conveniently abandoned car (how long has this apocalypse been going on again?) and are close to Angel HQ (the ‘aerie’). Pen is upset by the destruction of the city, asking Snow ‘how could you do this’?

Does she really expect an answer at this point?

Anyway, they stop so Pen can change into a skimpy dress and Pen mentions that the apocalypse has now been going on for a couple of months.

A couple of months!?

‘Luckily, every girl knows how to change in public’.

Uh, we do, do we?

Anyway, Snow glues his wings back on (not really, but it makes as much sense) as a Cunning Disguise and they continue into the aerie.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Pen and Snow arrive at ‘the checkpoint’ to get into the city. Who’s running this checkpoint? Angel pimps. Well, I suppose there have been worse administrations in California.

The pimps have also hired Crazy Mum, not as a prostitute, but as a guard, who cattle-prods people through the fence along the checkpoint. I guess their diversity policy had a clause concerning the mentally ill.

So they reach the gate where the angels are deciding who’s fly enough to enter the city (lol—fly, geddit?) and when Pen asks why so many people have gathered around this spot Snow tells her it’s because people always gather places. In other words, he doesn’t know.

Well, these angels were obviously inspired by ‘The Wicked Woods’ (now there’s something I never thought I’d say) because they all wear old-timey clothes and stand around doing jack shit. Thus, Snow leads Pen into the aerie…

Chapter Twenty-Eight

At the aerie there are female angels, because it always makes sense that female angels exist.

Also there are angels with swords, and to avoid attracting their attention, Snow gives Pen twu wuv’s first kiss. Hooray. Pen spends the rest of the chapter obsessing over it.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

After much faffing about, Snow tells Pen to get the attention of the whitest angel ever and make him follow her to the men’s room. Pen is shocked, and I wonder why Snow didn’t try to plan anything out with her before now. Just thought they’d show up and the rest would sort itself out, I guess.

Chapter Thirty

On her way to Whitey, Pen sees a guy she describes as a ‘politician’ because he makes nice with everyone, but he and the women attending him are clearly dead on the inside. The Big Bad? I suppose we’ll wait and see.

Then one of the twins shows up and offers her a drink. I guess they were less useless than I thought, if they too were able to infiltrate the angel’s clubhouse. Wonder how skimpy the dresses they had to wear were?

Chapter Thirty-One

On getting closer to Whitey, Pen tells us that unlike all the other male models that comprise the angels in the room, this new character is Not Hot. Why? Because he has red eyes, a far more off-putting affliction than all the disabilities suffered by the kids Paige used to hang out with and organise parties for—wait, wasn’t she seven years old?

Pen knows instinctively that Whitey needs the magic of friendship to bring him out of his shell. She tries the oops-I-spilled-my-drink-on-you-totes-an-accident ploy, and it’s Super-Effective. She leads him into the men’s room to talk to Snow, whereupon it is revealed his name is Josiah, and Snow rescued him from being a slave.

Wait, angels have angel-slaves? What?

Anyway, Snow really is Raphael, big surprise (though Pen’s proverbial penny has yet to drop on that matter); and the pimp-parties have been organised by Uriel as bribes for electing him to Gabriel’s former position. None of the angels know what’s happening, Uriel might be in league with hell, the only person who can arrange for Snow’s wings to be sewn back on is someone called ‘Laylah’ and Josiah knows nothing about all the kidnappings, because no one knows anything in this book.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Snow and Pen take the elevator up to a room where the curtains have been left open by maids, which totes must be a political statement and not because they were lazy.

Pen showers, they argue, she eats, she ogles Snow… ah, Josiah comes back with… a Nazi woman? And Pen feels embarrassed that she’s eating and stuff? Well, she’s Laylah, and she’s here to talk about whether or not she should sew Snow’s wings back on until Twin1 brings them room service.

Then Pen and Laylah bitch at each other and Snow agrees to an unknown favour to get re-winged.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Welcome to the three-quarter mark, boys and girls!

Today we find out that Snow doesn’t believe in God, which makes perfect sense because—oh wait, no it doesn’t. Sorry, author, but just as Meyer could only take so many liberties with vampires, there are only so many liberties to be taken with angels too.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Pen torments a woman who’s come to bring more room service, and orders yet more until Twin1 shows up again. He decides to take her to where there might be some children, but has to be quick because La Resistance is about to assault the Death Star. Pen takes [steals] Snow’s magic sword along, which comes in handy when they’re randomly attacked by some guys…

Chapter Thirty-Five

… but then Crazy Mum shows up!

The random guys don’t want to get on Crazy’s bad side, so they get da fuk out and Crazy Mum joins their party. Twin1 leads them to where there might be some kids and then he gets da fuk out too, but after a few pages wandering around all they find are some deformed freaks of nature in giant tubes.

I was wondering when something like that would show up…

Chapter Thirty-Six

These freaks have dragonfly wings, which we all know from Inescapable means they’re fallen angels who want to steal souls. Or not. For some reason they also have scorpion tails.

Inside one of the tubes, one of the freaks is draining a woman of all her precious bodily fluids, because I guess vampire angels had to show up sometime. Soon Pen sees more of the same in other tubes.

Pen suddenly Takes a Level in Heroism and decides she can’t leave these people to their fate, then climbs a ladder to try to get to the top of the tank. What she finds instead is…

Chapter Thirty-Seven

… a wall of dead children!

And it’s not even Christmas.

Then Paige comes crawling out of the dead bodies looking all Frankenstein-ish.

Yay?

Chapter Thirty-Eight

The sisters are immediately found by a Mad Scientist angel. Mortal Combat ensues!

Unfortunately, Mad Scientist angel is not as easily defeated as our buddy Boden, and strangles our Penny.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Pen is saved by Paige, who has apparently been turned into a super-strong flesh-eating demon by Mad Science experiments. She takes a few chunks out of the angel, and—

Shit.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT!

Mad-science by supernatural beings turning humans into cannibal-demons is what happens in one of MY novels!

NOW EVERYONE IS GOING TO THINK I WAS COPYING ANGELFALL!

AAAAARRRRRRRRGH!

Oh well, never mind.

Pen freaks out wondering whether or not she’ll still be able to feed Paige non-human meat. Don’t worry, Pen—I hear there’s a doctor in Baltimore who specialises in these kinds of cases. I doubt the apocalypse has finished him off. /Red Dragon.

Anyway, she finishes off the angel only for two more, including Laylah, to run in, but before that can have an effect on the plot, La Resistance begins their attack.

Hang on a minute, what happened to Crazy Mum?!

Chapter Forty

Well, some bombs are going off overhead, but Pen can’t leave without smashing up the tanks to try and free the tank-monsters’ lunches. Mum pops back up again and give’s Paige a big hug.

Aww.

Chapter Forty-One

The trio make their escape, but then Snow White comes hurtling down the hallway, thrown by an angel whose had Snow’s wings sewn onto his back, so I guess we know how well the surgery turned out.

Thanks, Laylah!

Shit, now I’ll have to call this angel Snow instead, and that means I might actually have to start referring to our Snow by his actual name!

Nah, screw that.

On Snow they’ve sewn a pair of bat wings, making him Batman, and the new Fake!Snow is the same guy who cut his wings off at the start. Snow asks Fake!Snow (called Belial, thus ‘Belle’ henceforth, for the Disney theme) why he didn’t just kill him. Belle’s answer?

Politics.

He doesn’t know shit either, does he?

Pen gives Snow back his sword, but it doesn’t work for him anymore and Belle (who is apparently from Hell? What?) attacks him. But Pen comes to the rescue, now possessed with magic sword powers, Mortal Combat ensues, something grabs Pen’s ankle—

Chapter Forty-Two

It was………………………………………………………………. A SCORPION FREAK!

It stings her in the neck, and Scorpion poison is Super Effective against YA dystopia heroines, but not against the Love Interests, so Snow picks it up and throws it away.

Sadly, Pen is now Dying in His Arms Tonight—it must have been something he said, and Snow is sad, because… they were in love or something. Hey, they knew each other almost a week! It counts!

Chapter Forty-Three

Belle was apparently Not Dead Yet, and rises again to kill Snow White, but is stopped when the Politician-type angel randomly appears to tell him not to, because it would turn him into a martyr for all his men.

His name? Ariel.

Well, okay, it’s Uriel—but they’re one letter’s difference and I have a theme going here!

Belle points out that Snow’s men don’t really care all that much about him anymore, but Ariel says they have to wait until everyone knows he’s Batman, or else. Pen becomes completely paralysed, Snow thinks she’s dead and does a Darth Vader ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO’. Belle does some epic taunting and then he and Ariel leave… kind of awkwardly.

Snow beats up their surroundings in grief, and then carries Pen off.

Chapter Forty-Four

Outside the fighting is underway, La Resistance versus the angels who aren’t anything like angels. Snow White is able to make people Run Away with his Batman wings though, getting them as far as Obi-Wan’s people, who he leaves Pen with before flying away, never to be seen again. (for another chapter)

Chapter Forty-Five

Obi-Wan wants to leave without Pen’s body, but Paige has super-strength now, so she lifts it into the truck herself, and they ride away just before the aerie explodes.

Somehow.

Yay?

Chapter Forty-Six

As they’re on their way Pen is happy to see Snow White, flying around again. The soldiers shoot at him… and miss.

What a pointless chapter.

Chapter Forty-Seven

Pen’s paralysis wears off. What another pointless chapter.

Oh, also it’s The End.

*~*~*

FINAL THOUGHTS

Dawn: No, freak! Don’t do it! You’ll never recover your reputation!

Uh, it’s just a rating system on a website, Dawn.

Anyway, Angelfall. It was… not bad.

Hmm. Now my world view has been thrown completely out of balance. It’s almost like an apocalypse.

*Explosions occur outside mediocre reviewer’s window*

Huh, what do you know. Looks like angels are coming to destroy the world, Dawn—who’d a thunk it?

Dawn: Oh, those aren’t angels, freak.

They aren’t?

Dawn: Nope, this is the Disney Princess apocalypse. Abandon all hope, losers!

OH SHIT! EVERYBODY PANIC!

Okay, wait, it might be all right if I can just stay in my room and they won’t find me…

*Knocks occur on reviewer’s door*

Cinderella: Open up! This is the Disney Princess Gestapo, here to sell you into medical experiments!

NOOOOOOOOOO! How did they find us!?

Dawn: Simple. I sold you out, freak.

Bzuh?

Dawn: You didn’t really think there’d be no consequences for giving a YA paranormal romance book more than one star, did you?

But… but we’ve been through so much together! I THOUGHT WE HAD SOMETHING SPECIAL!

Dawn: Yeah, but didn’t you notice something strange? My name being Dawn and all. You know, ‘dawn’? Also known as ‘aurora’? As in PRINCESS AURORA!

What!?

Dawn: Dun, dun, dun, motherfuckers!

*Reviewer is dragged off screaming, never to be seen again—readers cheer loudly*

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Angelfall: You Know Nothing, Snow White (Part I)

Finally it has happened. The two things I love most in the world, YA Paranormal Romance and YA Dystopia, have been merged together in a book I am reviewing. Oh, frabjuous day!

And yes, it’s angels again. Evil angels who cause the apocalypse, because that’s never been done—Cough!Evangelion!Cough!Dominion!Cough!—before.

But I’m sure this will be a masterpiece to rival even the likes of Eva. Then again, I don’t like Eva that much anyway, so I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard.

(The Condensed Goodreads review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1054600302 )

*~*~*

Chapter One

We begin with the knowledge that the angel apocalypse has made the sunsets prettier because… irony?

Well, if aesthetics for aesthetics sake isn’t a good indicator of how this book will turn out, we meet our tough heroine Katniss, the only person who can protect her little sister Prim in a dangerous world, since her father isn’t around and her mother is crazy.

Yeah, I used that joke again. In actuality we meet our tough heroine Penryn (?!?), the only person who can protect her little sister Paige in a dangerous world, since her father isn’t around and her mother is crazy. And for added bonus, Paige is in a wheelchair. This chapter involves them getting ready to leave the house… and that’s it.

Chapter Two

This terrific trio step out into post-apocalyptic wherever they are, and let us know that when people aren’t running from evil angels in this world, they’re spraying graffiti evil angels on the sides of walls and forming gangs who nail fake angel feathers to doors.

Also, the apocalypse has caused the people of Silicon Valley (I guess that’s where they are) to throw their smartphones into the streets, because they were infected with the SYMBOLISM! virus. After some wandering around, Prim—uh, Paige, finds a feather that apparently comes from a real angel this time.

And a real angel swoops down to give Penryn an opportunity to explain how angels have been killing everyone for… some reason.

Chapter Three

More angels follow, and fortunately for our heroes, they seem to be more interested in killing each other than in Penryn. These angels all have different-coloured wings, designed to give me Inescapable flashbacks, no doubt. Also they look like ‘the type to be heavily scarred’, but aren’t, whatever that means.

A fight ensues between five crazy-winged angels and one with normal white wings, described in such terms that I’m guessing he’s the paranormal love interest. Yay. Then they cut his wings off. Take that, Patch!

At this point Pen refers to two of the other angels as ‘bullies’, despite having no idea what’s going on.

One of them expresses his regret that he has to cut ‘Snowy-Wings’ snowy wings off, making me suspect his story would be far more interesting than the one I’m reading, and Paige falls for the old, making-a-noise-that-gives-away-your-location-when-trying-to-hide cliché.

Chapter Four

Pen tries to distract the angels so her family can get away, instead of just… trying to get away while they were already distracted by carving up some wings, but mommy dearest runs off without Paige, leaving her wide open for a kidnapping plot. Meanwhile Pen, an untrained teenage girl, manages to get a sword from the ground and throw it to Snow White before the fearsome angels can do shit.

With Snow White armed, the others RUN AWAY. Unfortunately, one of the other angels decides that spiting Pen is more important than running away, and abducts Paige on his way out, laughing maniacally. Well, not really, but he may as well have been.

Chapter Five

Man, these are some short chapters. Anyway, Penny then looks for mommy, although their relationship is ‘complicated’, and her ‘rosy love’ for her mother is ‘slashed with black’ and ‘spattered with grey’, and inked ravens of despair claw holes in the arse of the world’s mind.

No one will get that reference.

But poor old mum is nowhere to be found, hopefully she will avoid the supermarkets which we are told the gangs have turned into ‘torture stations’. As you would. (given the many stations I’ve been to, I think perhaps the ‘torture’ part is redundant).

So, Pen decides to grab herself a slice of Snow White, as angel wings go for big bucks on the black market. And also to see if he knows where the other angels took Paige. She applies first aid and tosses him into Paige’s wheelchair, making sure to act as though it’s really difficult for her to lift him as that will mean anyone watching will think she’s strong.

Wait, what?

Chapter Six

Pen holes up in an office with a corpse outside to ward people off. Luckily there’s still running water and intermittent electricity (why did everyone throw away their smartphones again?) so the apocalypse isn’t that bad.

Two days later Snow White wakes up to inform Pen that her sister is totes ded. Pen doesn’t believe him, because she’s read the blurb for this book. So she shows him his severed wings to prove… that she has his wings? She claims doctors could sew them back on, but I wouldn’t think Snow was stupid enough to—oh wait, he is.

Chapter Seven

Apparently Buffalo Bill’s come by to put make-up on the corpse outside the office; no, wait, it was Crazy Old Mum, who now vandalises corpses because… she’s crazy, and that’s what crazy people do. Also they have radar powers because how else could she have found Pen?

Well, according to her a ‘demon’ told her. Sounds legit. Meanwhile we get some backstory which tells us no one knows how Paige got ‘crippled’, she was in the house with Crazy Mum and there was an ‘accident’ that was apparently never investigated, so Mum made Pen get a bazillion different types of self-defence lessons even though they had no money to pay for them. Also she kept a scrapbook of stories about mothers who killed their children.

I have so many questions I can’t even list them all.

Chapter Eight

Pen duct-tapes up Snow White for safe-keeping, they exchange ‘witty banter’ then fight. Then more banter, then more bondage. And we get this line:

“When I was little, I always thought I’d be Cinderella, but I guess this makes me the wicked witch.”

You thought you’d be Cinderella, huh?

And wait—there was no wicked witch in Cinderella!

Chapter Nine

Crazy Mum leaves the lights on, attracting one of those evil gangs. A fairly written action scene ensues, although Snow White does leap to her defence for no reason. Guess he has Schlockholm Syndrome. Mummy knifes up some guy while Snow White takes on the rest of them.

Then Pen decides to lend him a hand, seeing as he’s her only link to poor Paige, and they fight and they fight and they fight and they fight… and they win. Deciding to leave, Snow White realises that Pen has his super-special-awesome sword, and Pen doesn’t give it back to him, because I guess she’s not an idiot.

Chapter Ten

I’m beginning to fear this book might be worth more than one star. I hate books like that!

Anyway, Snow White is in bad shape after some walking, leading me to wonder how exactly angels work in this world, because they seem to be slightly stronger humans with wings. This one’s name is ‘Raffe’. Short for Raphael? Who knows, I’m still going to call him Snow White.

Pen lets us know that Snow is totes gorgeous, claims she isn’t afraid of him, or god, then moves onto another subject. Why have angels decided to destroy humanity?

Well, I could make several jokes about why humanity deserves to be destroyed, but Snow’s answer is, word for word:

“Beats me.”

That sounds legit to Pen, and they have lunch. And they talk and they talk and they talk and they talk… we find out the angels have been collecting children, but Snow doesn’t know why because it appears Snow knows fuck all, really. When Pen asks him why the others were attacking him, he tells her not to be a victim-blamer, and nothing of interest happens.

Then there’s a dream sequence that lets you know Pen watched Titanic one too many times before the apocalypse and when she wakes up Snow agrees to take her to… somewhere. Her sister might be there, I guess.

Chapter Eleven

Now we learn that angels take longer to heal from wounds inflicted by angel swords, and Snow’s sword had to give Pen permission to use it because I guess it works by Excalibur rules.

Snow and Pen eat some cat food and set off on their journey.

Oh, and we’re at the quarter-way mark. Exciting.

Chapter Twelve.

Our heroes begin by finding some dead bodies, dead bodies that were apparently gnawed on by zombies, or possibly just crazy people. Or a pack of feral children. Or Mummy.

Who cares, next chapter!

Chapter Thirteen

In the woods, Paige’s wheelchair gets stuck in the mud and Snow White banters at Pen for a bit. Then they go to a place called Skyline, where the local people don’t like outsiders and set the hounds on them.

Chapter Fourteen

Snow White stuffs Pen in a tree and leads the doggies away just before a group of organised guys appear and find him. Pen is aggrieved that they are taking her captive captive, and goes after them.

Chapter Fifteen

It’s much easier to summarise chapters when stuff happens, rather than mindless bullshit. That’s another mark against you, Angelfall—I’m starting to get annoyed with your lack of badness!

The random guys take Snow White back to their base, and Pen follows along, waiting ’til night to perform a daring rescue… that gets her immediately captured. Yay.

Chapter Sixteen

So the thing about this book, I think, is that it has no… je ne sais quoi. I know that sounds super-vague, and I’m sorry, but I’m just… underwhelmed. Ever since chapter nine there’s been nothing wrong with the story and at the same time there’s been nothing compelling about it either.

Like now, when the random guys shoot the shit with Pen and Snow as they’re tied to chairs. There’s not even anything to say about it, it’s just talking. Then their leader comes in and feeds them. His name is Obadiah, and he excels in Boring Conversations.

Once both sides have reassured each other that they’re not living off Soylent Green, Obi confides in them his plan to find the crazy cannibals and train them to fight angels. There, that’s the kind of awesomely stupid idea I read books for! For once, I’m happy our heroes have found La Resistance!

Chapter Seventeen

Obi-Wan lets them know that he’s not deluded enough to think the local cannibals will be able to defeat the evil angels, (I don’t know—if they’re the Inbreds from the Wrong Turn franchise I think they could pull it off), but he does hope that it will at least inspire the people—and I for one find it very inspiring.

He leaves them to their escape attempt, and Snow breaks his bonds, because angel-powers. Pen mentions how the angels might have started killing humans because Gabriel got shot and killed, so apparently angels are weak against bullets?

Anyway, they’re immediately re-captured.

Chapter Eighteen

La Resistance tells our heroes they have to stay until the camp moves, because otherwise they might give away their location. If this was good old Ember, she would have been whining indignantly about it. Pen is actually reasonable.

I’m Very Disappointed, Angelfall!

Obi-Wan wants to recruit them though, and his guard Boden calls them ‘dildos’. Time will tell if he becomes my favourite character or not…

Anyway, they stay in the camp, where the men build walls out of computers instead of any of the hundreds of things that would make better walls than computers because SYMBOLISM! Pen goes to talk to Obi-Wan to see if he’ll let them go since they’ve been there a whole day, but runs into Boden who tells her to get back in the kitchen before he orally sodomises her.

Perhaps not my favourite character then.

Pen punches him in the face, he punches her back, she breaks his finger, he punches her in the boob, the onlookers take bets.

Yes, really.

Chapter Nineteen

About this time Pen decides to ‘get serious’ about this fight and turns the tables, right before Obi-Wan shows up to break it up, and Pen feels bad that Snow White didn’t bet on her winning. Because his opinion of her is so important to her now, apparently.

Obi-Wan tells her that brawling and gambling are cornerstones of their resistance movement, which is why no one tried to stop the fight. Great policy! Somehow, Pen doesn’t decide to join La Resistance after this, though she is tempted. She has to find Prim, after all. Uh, Paige.

But she wants to live in a world where her biggest worries are the PROOOOM, and pretending she does will obviously make it so!

(Hey, maybe Angelfall takes place in the same universe as Halo? Guess Bethany’s mission backfired big-time, maybe she should have actually paid attention to it rather than mooning over Xavier all the time)

Then Fred and George Weasley show up (called Tweedledum and Tweedledee in this book, though the character models match), seemingly to become Pen’s annoying cheerleading-squad. They gush over how awesome she is for a bit and try to recruit her into more fighting, saying if she throws a fight for them, they’ll help her escape.

She accepts, but not before interrogating them as to what Snow bet in regards to her fight.

Chapter Twenty

After a day of hard work Pen worries because Snow will be expected to take his shirt off, revealing the bandages with bloodstains in the shape of wing joints; and there’s just no possible explanation for those, except wings. Derp.

Luckily the woman the Hitachi twins (Hitachi doesn’t get a red line? Are Microsoft Ouran fans? Well, Ouran got one, so probably not) wanted Pen to fight; Anita (I’m saying nothing), sidles up to flirt with Snow and Pen pretends to be a jealous bitch to distract everyone.

Anita, it seems, is a Dawn character—yay! I hadn’t dared hope!

They mud-wrestle, but are interrupted by men with gnus.

(If you’re in my NaNo group, ‘gnus’ is a joke. If not, sucks to be you!)

Chapter Twenty-One

Panic ensues, people RUN AWAY, and Snow and Pen take the opportunity to escape. They come across some of the soldiers fighting… something, they don’t see what it was, but it was scary and some of the soldiers have been disarmed. In the sense that I’m putting my Horatio Cane sunglasses on.

Anyway, the soldiers leave, and our heroes go back to where Pen stashed Snow’s wings. They collect them, and Snow leads Pen back to camp Fight Club before telling her her sister’s in San Francisco. Then he gives some incredibly vague lines about how the whole massacre thing happened because of him, Pen is safer on her own, and then he buggers off.

Pen, of course, still has that Millstone to rescue, so instead of going back to Fight Club, she wanders off into the forest.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Pen wanders around in the woods and is attacked by things.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Snow shows up to save her. The two of them fight the… things (I don’t know, they’re little shadow demons or something) until they leave. Snow apparently doesn’t know what they are, and doesn’t recognise the term ‘Bizzaro-ville’ either, despite having no problems speaking colloquial English up ’til now.

Wait a minute, I just realised. I’ve been calling him ‘Snow’ all this time… and he knows nothing…

Aha. Ahahaha. AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, I crack myself up.

Moving on, we’re halfway through the book, let’s celebrate with another dream sequence!

*~*~*

CONTINUED TOMORROW IN PART TWO

Don’t You Understand What I’m Comma Trying To Say?

Technology marches on, and after a long time trying to decide whether I was too lazy to learn how to use Voice Typing, or whether I was lazy enough that Voice Typing itself would save more effort in the long run than not being bothered to look into it would, I took the plunge and bought myself a wireless headset + mic to start talking to myself like a crazy person!

Only this time I was wearing the headset, so I didn’t look quite so crazy.

To test it, I read aloud one of my favourite poems–Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. These were the results (mistakes in italics; corrections in square brackets):

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who’s there had two vast entrance Westlake’s of stone [said, vast and trunkless]

Stand in the desert near them on the sand

Have sent a shattered visage lies, his brown [half-sunk, frown]

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that it’s got to well those passions road [sculptor, read]

Which yet survive stamped on these lifeless things

The hand that mocked them and the heart of the third [that fed]

And on the pedestal these words appear

My name is of him and he is King of Kings [Ozymandias]

Look on my works the mighty and despair [ye]

Nothing beside remains round the decay

Of that colossal wreck boundless and there [bare]

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Considering I’m using the free Windows software, this was the first thing I voice-typed and it will get better the more I train it, the above actually isn’t too bad–some lines were even word-for-word correct. I then did one of the training things that they have, where you read their pre-prepared text so the speech-recognition can get more used to your voice. The problem with that is that they tell you to use your normal speaking voice, but as soon as I’m told to read something aloud I put on my Public Speaking voice; which sounds like…

“The train at platform one is the eleven twenty-eight, First Great Eastern service to… London King’s Cross. Calling at Royston, Hitchin, Stevenage, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Ashwell & Morden, and… London King’s Cross, only.”

Also, I can tell homonyms are going to be a problem with it, as well as names I’ve made up–maybe even less common names in general. But it has improved even after only a short time using it–for example:

It was a scroll, a skeleton, walking towards them and the remains of the shrouds that had once been a very extravagant, expensive—it had to have been, but what remained of it now was nothing more than shreds hanging off the shoulder bones of the undead creature.

Which was meant to be:

It was a skull, a skeleton, walking towards them in the remains of the shroud that had once been very extravagant, expensive–it had to have been, but what remained of it now was nothing more than shreds hanging off the shoulder bones of the undead creature.

Only a few small errors. (I particularly like how it recognised ‘undead’, but Word underlined it in red anyway).

And yet I drew this series of cartoons anyway because it amused me…

Speech Recognition 1 Speech Recognition 2 Speech Recognition 3

I don’t know why my laptop wants to be the next Dan Brown of all people. Truly, it is a sick and twisted device…

The Same Old Story

In the old days of two years ago, I posted the prologue to my NaNoWriMo 2013 novel, ‘The Ritual of DUELS’. You can find that post here: https://racheliliffe.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/a-nano-sample-of-nano/

Today I thought I’d entertain you by showing you what that prologue looks like now, after two years of going back and editing it every time I read it again to remind myself what happened in it, having just read someone post about the dos and don’ts of prologues, because according to the dos and don’ts of Rachelloon, you don’t take other people’s advice for writing prologues, because you inevitably disagree with them.

All thoughts on the words are welcome. If you can be bothered to read the November 2013 version and compare it, those thoughts are welcome too; the main difference between them (apart from the revised one being somewhat longer) is that the new version explains more about the premise of the story since I’d been told the following chapters were difficult to follow by someone who read them.

*~*~*

The Rings were spinning again.

Each of the seven brass coils spun in a different direction; floating in the air—all seven adorned like a massive charm bracelet with seven of the crests of the Custodians each, spinning on more than one axis with a speed that challenged the Custodian Heads to follow with their eyes.

Tension was thick in the dark recesses of the windowless, amphitheatre; rivals giving one another sidelong glares and allies worried glances as they lost track of their crests in the golden blur the rings had become. Only two of them had lived long enough to have seen the Ritual of DUELS before, and neither had been Head of their families at the time.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience was putting even the most confident in the group on edge.

“You see the outcome with your powers yet, Chamoiseau?” muttered one man.

“My magic eight-ball told me to ask again later, Alkadhi” replied another, sarcastically.

The lights from the rings grew brighter every moment, shivering against the high stone walls. Some rings scraped against each other as they turned and made sparks, while the sound of spinning became ever more high-pitched and the long moments passed. Not even the most stalwart Head could stand to look as the spinning reached its crescendo.

Then it was as if there was a flash of lightning, the brightness and the sound of it was so similar, some Heads even flinched back as the point of choosing was reached, and then the Rings slowed down, and one by one they hung horizontally in the air.

Those who recognised their crests in the hanging rings were a mixed bag; many of them displeased to say the least, some unconcerned—they’d known no family members were eligible this time, perhaps—but some were probably even more relieved not to have the responsibility thrust upon a daughter of their family.

One Ring still spun upright, like a wheel of fate. But in time it too slowed to a stop.

The de Alvear crest glowed apple green at the top of the Ring.

“Isabella,” whispered the shadows.

Each Head turned to Elena de Alvear; even those who tried not to look, as if the others would decide they were too confident to care and respect them more for it. Elena’s trembling hands slowly clasped together in front of her chest, her eyes wide, her lips just stretching into a wide grin etched with giddiness. Fernando Páez hissed a ‘T’ noise in disgust, but Elena hardly noticed.

It was even more awkward than the usual meetings of this group, and that was saying something.

“Well, congratulations,” said Ray Bartlett—breaking the ice so to speak. He made the valiant effort to hide stark disappointment; they all knew his great-niece Amanda had been a favourite to be chosen as the Princess, but it wasn’t like Isabella de Alvear had been a wildcard. One by one, each of the closest representatives copied him with faux-sincere congratulations.

Isabella de Alvear; seventeen years old, had been chosen as the Princess of Two Worlds for the next eighty-one years. With almost complete certainty, it would fall to her to control the Shifting Shadows that lead from the Human World to the realm of the Shaedai, and to preside over any matters that could not be resolved by the local Custodian courts.

It was a power unparalleled. Many of the forty-nine had coveted it.

But it was more than disappointment or jealousy in that respect that was bothering Ray and most of the others. There were still ten more choices to make.

Nine boys to be Suitors for the Princess’ hand; the main players in this old and dangerous ritual.

One other girl to be the Challenger, and test Isabella’s worthiness of the title. To ‘keep the Princess Human’ as the Shaedai put it. Hers was the unluckiest fate, and every girl the forty-nine Custodian Heads might have hoped to be the chosen Princess was now in danger of being selected for the other role.

Elena said a prayer of thanks to God, and the Rings started spinning again.

They did so much sooner than the gathered Heads had expected, making the selections of the Suitors much faster than they had the Princess.

The Roesdahl-Kessle crest was first, accompanied with a whisper of “Arne,” and Sven Roesdahl-Kessle let out a bark of laughter in response. It was difficult for the others to guess why he did so, because few of them had heard of an ‘Arne Roesdahl-Kessle’.

Still, to a man they scrambled for pen and paper to record the names—most being too old-fashioned for tablets. However, Giles Rhys-Revailler, Lord Constanton, surprised his colleagues by being one of the few despite having only a few years to go before his centenary.

“Look at what my granddaughter gave me, Noni,” he was saying to Noni Okino, solemnly. “They call it an ‘i-pad’, and you touch the keys here just on the screen, and look! The words are right there. Genius, isn’t it?—the things they come up with these days.”

Noni tried not to laugh.

Lang was the second Suitor chosen, but it was the crest of the old former Hopi line rather than the main branch that shone; the Ameri-Langs as they were often known.

“Xiangfei.”

Jiaoqi Lang nodded to himself grimly. Shifan clicked his tongue when the exiled branch of his family was chosen, but that selection had also caused a more general murmur throughout the room; Xiang was heir to his House, after all.

The Mwangi crest came next, and Njau Mwangi was chosen to compete in DUELS, to the great pleasure of his father’s cousin; while when the Páez crest glowed on the turn after that, Fernando seemed still too bitter about his hated rival’s daughter becoming Princess to be pleased his nephew Lorenzo now had a chance to become Prince.

When the Himori crest lit up cherry-blossom pink on the next turn, Juichiro Himori looked happy at first. Then the gathering heard the whispered name of “Yuusuke,” and his face fell.

“Yuusuke?” murmured Vladimir Milescu. “Isn’t it ‘Takanata’ they thought might be picked?”

“They’re both his great-nephews,” said Marie Ahanda. “But one’s considered a bit more… princely.”

“Ah.”

If Juichiro had heard that he made no mention of it, and had his features schooled back to serenity by the time the Henderson-Sembene crest was glowing in the chosen position, with James Henderson-Sembene being selected much to his father’s delight. In recognition of their traditional enmity, Clarence Henderson-Sembene looked particularly to Noni Okino for her reaction, but was disappointed to find she didn’t seem all that bothered.

The next colour that bathed the room was a dark blue. Ultramarine, the family called it, and that family was Rhys-Revailler Constanton.

“What?” Phyllis McKinley blurted out. “You don’t have—”

“Tarquin,” said the shadows.

“Tarquin?” Phyllis repeated. Giles himself looked just as confused.

Is there someone in my family called Tarquin?” he asked, looking around the room.

“Your cousin’s great-grandson,” Ravi Khamavant supplied, and rather than looking annoyed with Giles inability to remember his own family members, he looked pleased. “The younger of my sister’s son’s boys.”

Phyllis rolled her eyes. Obviously Ravi would be pleased someone of his blood had been chosen for DUELS, even if they weren’t of his House.

“He’s a quarter McKinley too,” Ravi told her gently.

“Not from the Irish side, I bet,” Phyllis replied, and Ravi left it there so she was probably right.

Delmonte was the eighth House to have a suitor chosen, Juan Delmonte the Suitor in question. His grandfather’s expression didn’t change at all at news of the selection, and a few of the Heads weren’t entirely sure the man hadn’t fallen asleep. He had been known to do so at Court in the past.

The final House to be given the opportunity to put forward a contestant in DUELS was Nkosi-Elzevir, and seeing his family’s crest light up at the top of its Ring made Jeremiah Nkosi-Elzevir jump up and down like an unruly teenager. Jeremiah’s young cousin Matthew was chosen for DUELS, the ninth for this round, and a collective breath was exhaled in defeat from most of the remaining Heads.

But the Spinning was not over.

A scant few moments passed before the Rings spun again, and this time much slower than before, as if the Shaedai enjoyed drawing out their Custodians’ agony. The thirty-nine Houses that had not been chosen were mostly disappointed, but when those Rings moved they all remembered there was a worse fate than not being chosen to participate in DUELS.

A much worse fate.

For although times had changed, and no one expected that the Challenger would be executed as a matter of course this year… historically, the fates of even those who had survived their Challenge had been grim. Save for the one time the Challenger had prevailed; and no one wanted that either.

Spinning as slowly as they had when first the gathering had arrived, the Rings soon accelerated again, while the Heads watched in various stages of anxiety. Even those who had no daughters eligible looked nervous, even those who had already been chosen and were therefore safe. All except Elena de Alvear, whose joy could apparently be dampened for nothing, even the rings which at that very moment spun for no other reason than to choose a girl who would be given one, unrefuseable mission.

To kill the Princess.

At one point Pablo de la Vega, whose daughter’s fate was one of those on the line, dropped the notebook he was holding and startled Ray Bartlett, who looked about ready to slap him in turn, but ended up being too distracted by the spinning. Pablo thought he saw him mouthing ‘not Amanda, not Amanda, not Amanda’ to himself as he watched.

Round and round and round the brass Rings went. Brighter they glowed, until a second flash of lightning that sounded like a thousand crashing cymbals filled the room and made the Heads’ eyes close again. The Rings fell into position one by one, the proverbial wheel of fate made its choice and the last crest of this generations’ DUELS fell into place with a click.

Okino.

“Elodie” said the shadows.

As they had when Isabella had been chosen, each Head turned to look at Noni Okino in a ripple of swivelling necks. Even Elena de Alvear spared her a glance, though her glance was wary. But for the others, jealousy was replaced with sympathy—sympathy even from disagreeable sorts like Fernando and Shifan, even from Clarence Henderson-Sembene, whose family hated the Okinos.

Noni ignored all this and kept her eyes fixed on her family’s crest, spreading shadows over the room in the black that was the family colour; right up until she threw her cane on the ground and folded her arms with clenched fists.

“Well, damn it,” she said.

Robin Hood the Climate Change Denialist

On Authenticity and Relatability in Historical Fiction.

Authenticity vs. Relatability

Many years ago one of the most popular shows in the Rachelloon house was a comedy sketch show of my native land of Britain called Dead Ringers. And one of the sketches that has most stuck with me over the years was a scene they did ripping on the then-airing historical drama ‘Robin Hood’.

The only Dead Ringers Robin Hood sketch that I can find on YouTube now isn’t the one I remember, but I did remember the introduction that was at the beginning of that video, which runs:

And now on BBC One we’ve a brand new series of Robin Hood, where we’ve taken a much loved classic tale, given it a typically 21st century makeover, and made it shit.”

The sketch that I do remember had the Sherriff of Nottingham planning to impose a Carbon Tax on the local peasants, only to find himself facing strong opposition when Robin of Loxley stirs up the people, insisting that the case for global warming has not been proven.

I know you all know where this particular long ramble is going…

[Disclaimer: I know nothing about anything and don’t listen to a word I say or read a word I type. Just give me mindless praise instead.]

*~*~*

As someone with a strong interest in history I’ve always found it very difficult to watch historical dramas or read historical fiction without sniping ‘that’s wrong!’, ‘that’s really wrong!’, and ‘okay, the writers were on crack when they came up with this’. The only exception being Da Vinci’s Demons, which not only describes itself as ‘historical fantasy’ rather than ‘historical drama’, but has the added crucial element of actually being good.

(And even that will probably be ruined by the upcoming new season, just like all my other favourite shows. /grumble).

On the other hand, ‘updating’ historical persons/characters for the 21st century is not done without reason on the part of writers, and it’s easy enough to see why.

To begin, an excerpt—taken from my new book for NaNoWriMo research, which contains a number of extremely interesting writings from that period; this particular excerpt from the pen of Paolo de Certaldo of Florence, in probably the 14th century:

“Young girls should be taught to sew, and not to read, for it is not good in a woman, knowing how to read, unless you want to make her a nun… Feed boys well, and dress them as you can, in a decent fashion, and they will be strong and vigorous… Girls should be dressed well, but it does not matter how you feed them, as long as they get enough to live: don’t let them get too fat.

… I remind you again, if you have girls or young women in the house, that you should discipline them and keep them on a tight rein. And if, as often happens, any of them is looked at by young men, don’t get angry with such youths, but punish and warn the girls…”

(‘The Towns of Italy in the Later Middle Ages’; Dean, Manchester, 2000, pp195-6)

How widespread this sentiment was is debatable, how often put into practice unknowable, but from what we can tell the advice book this extract is taken from was very popular at the time, and if you write a novel set in this period then these are undeniably some of the prevailing views of the day. How can you make a character have or tolerate the above sentiments and still be relatable? If you make your character not have this sentiment, how do you explain why they don’t?

The answer to that last question is simple enough, and yet it raises a much bigger problem. That being (and I can assure you of this), that the extract above is in no way the uniform view of the time, of the place, of the era. The problem is that there is no such thing, and no such thing for far more than simply the care of one’s daughters.

Historians can’t agree amongst themselves about the reality of life in the Middle Ages, and the perceptions of your average readers can certainly be far off from the truth, if they even know anything about it at all when it’s likely the only thing they remember from school history lessons is ‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died; Divorced, Beheaded, Survived’.

(Well, if they’re British anyway).

Take the Crusades, for example. Few people now would think of them as a glorious struggle to regain stolen land from the evil Saracens anymore, and even at their height there were those in Catholic Europe who didn’t either, but what were they really in that case? Was it just wave after wave of bloodthirsty religious fanatics attacking those of another faith unprovoked? Were there far more Machiavellian motives behind the actions of the crusaders; opportunistic men of fortune seeing a chance to gain wealth and prestige without the disgrace of shedding Christian blood? Or did the whole thing start as a well-meaning attempt to come to the aid of fellow Christians in the Byzantine Empire that went very, very wrong as time went on?

All three of these things? Different things for different people in different places and at different times? None of the above?

And how much of a point in striving for ‘authenticity’ is there when those readers who do have a little knowledge of the subject will differ wildly in their perception of it?

One internet argument that comes to mind concerns a favourite of this blog; that of the treatment of women in Game of Thrones. It runs something like this…

A: “There is no excuse for the excessive brutality committed against the women in this series.”

B: “Except that that was what things were really like for women in the Middle Ages, and the author is just trying to remind people of that to contrast it with other medieval fantasy.”

A: “But fantasy is the operative word here—Westeros is not a real place. Therefore it was entirely the whim of the author that depicted such atrocious abuse of women so often.”

B: “Westeros isn’t real; but fantasy set in a medieval European pastiche is a genre in itself; and part of the point of GoT is to remind people of the realities of that era.”

A: “Especially the dragons and ice zombies, right?”

B: “But that’s also the point of fantasy and speculative fiction—realistic people in unrealistic situations.”

A: “So what reliable data do you have for the violence women faced in the real medieval era?”

B: “Well… to some point that’s going to be a matter of interpretation.”

A: “And of course, G. R. R. Martin interpreted it in a way that made him write as much rape as possible into the series.”

B: “But you can’t ascribe malicious motivations to him for doing that just because you personally didn’t like the results.”

One may take issue with the fact that I suddenly started writing about historical fantasy pastiche here when I had been talking about historical fiction, but I think the same points still stand: people, or some people at least, don’t want the realities other people have interpreted. They want their reality.

They don’t want to see a medieval town of uniformly white faces when they know there were some ethnic minorities in Europe during the Middle Ages, no matter how unlikely it was that you would have seen one in any given town—especially in the north. Or they don’t want to accept that the man widely acknowledged as the greatest painter who ever lived, a genius and an inspiration to millions, was in all likelihood a homosexual—because it’s not like there’s a da Vinci sex tape floating around the internet that would prove it, right?

(Unless it’s Da Vinci’s Demons’ da Vinci, because I wouldn’t have put it past him to casually invent the digital camcorder over a long weekend. Incidentally, the creator of that show got at least one death threat just for making the character bisexual, let alone gay).

And so we get Robin Hood the climate change denialist. And no, to my knowledge no one has ever gone that far and been serious about it, but examples that irk me nonetheless follow fast upon one another.

Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow: ‘Hi, I’ve been transported here from the eighteenth century, but conveniently I hold no views that would be unpalatable to a modern-day liberal audience!’. The female medical examiner in Murdoch Mysteries: ‘I can’t believe my nineteenth century Catholic boyfriend is homophobic! How backwards!’. Achilles in Troy: ‘Allow me to introduce you to my COUSIN Patrocles. *cough* no homo.”. Celaena in Throne of Glass:

Just… Celaena in Throne of Glass.

No doubt the list goes on, and while one can find sources enough that prove unpalatable sentiments were in no way uniform throughout any given period, it ends up that if not only your hero, but every ‘good’ character in the novel goes against the grain of the day, one has to ask why they do so; and the closer the views of the characters get to those of the modern era, the harder answering that question can get.

Ultimately, the easiest answer is that the characters believe what the writer believes because writers everywhere delight in dropping messages as anvils onto the heads of their readers/audience. But to an extent there’s only one way they can do that now that we’re already living in the age of widespread discussion or acceptance of such formerly taboo or radical ideas—by transporting us back to a time when they were still radical so those anvils can fall with impunity.

Thus everyone learns a valuable lesson about whatever. And they learn it over. And over. And over. Forever.

Why not try educating your audience about history, instead of ideas and values they already know about? You don’t have to eject ‘strong’ female or gay characters from the work—it’s not like they didn’t exist. If you want to sink your teeth into the medieval answer to feminism, for example, pick up Christine de Pizan and go from there; fighting misogyny in a way that was authentic to the period.

But if instead your heroine sounds just like a 21st century hipster except that they use the words ‘verily’ and ‘mayhap’, then they sound fake, and if they sound fake, then the possibility of the reader’s immersion ends.

Or it does for me, anyway. As I’ve said before, some people ‘just can’t even’ with characters who they deem unpalatable, and I guess you’ve also got to ask yourself why bother with historical fiction if you can’t stand historical people? So you can have your cake and eat it?

For those of us who can stand to be around characters whose views and beliefs are different—sometimes almost unfathomably so—it’s worth remembering that the people of the past were human too, capable of empathy and compassion. Even if you strive for true authenticity your own interpretation will give colour to the work that some people won’t like, but there’s nothing in true authenticity to any era of history that will make a character automatically unpalatable.

And then again, if something’s good, then it’s good. And if I say it’s good, then it’s good—and my historical novel that I’m going to start for NaNoWriMo this year will be the greatest novel that ever walked the earth!

[It’ll walk when the rats that are munching on the pages after it’s been abandoned in a basement for fifty years decide to make hats out of it, and then scurry away to give people more plague].

Rainbow Snail & Poem

The snail is intended to attract your attention, assuming you all like shiny, colourful things as much as I like snails. The poem is about NaNoWriMo, and is… well. It’s short, at least.

Research Snail

My friend the snail sits next to the words ‘Research Wish List’, because beneath it I have complied a wish list of books I want to help with research for NaNoWriMo; which I can’t get at the moment because academic books cost an arm and a leg. I just bought a leg’s worth, and I need both my arms for typing.

As for the poem, well, I generally dislike poetry and find it pretentious, which is unfortunate since I seem to get the urge to write it from time to time. This one was also inspired by NaNo.

NaNoWriMo Poem

For the updated version where the N in the second ‘November’ doesn’t have a raindrop mark marring its corner because it’s on your computer screen instead of a notebook I took out just as it was beginning to rain, (and there are also one or two minor word changes) behold:

POEM

~*~

November is coming.
The eight unfinished freaks shall soon welcome a ninth into their company;
And even the first line of this poem is a reference to someone else’s work.
Once again, the eyes of my imagination have overreached the stomach of my ability.
November is coming.
Shit.

Look out, Keats.

Alphabet Dupe

Okay, so I made an Alphabet for all you guys who are still learning to read, hope this helps with understanding my future blog posts!

Ha-ha, nothing could make my blog posts anything close to understandable–truly, they are beyond help!

But I did spend the last few weeks designing these letters whenever I felt the mood strike me, and I suppose I could insert a lot of florid prose here about the importance of the letters themselves, both to the writer and as their own art form, but I hate florid prose, so I’ll just let the picture tell its thousand words…

Penned Alphabet

Yep. Those are definitely the letters of the alphabet that are used to write words in the English language that I write in.

And just so you all know how hard I worked on these while I was sitting at home with no reason not to instead watch the Sky box set of S2 Da Vinci’s Demons in anticipation of S3 since the S2 DVD that was supposed to be out in mid-April has been delayed yet again to the middle of November… where was I?

Oh yes, these are my practice sheets.

YQGFXY EEEEEEEEEN NMILTZB

And just so you all know how hard I worked on this when I was supposed to be filling out forms at work, I also put together a little MS Paint collage of the letters I practiced in my notebook at work. Enjoy the edges of a few words from the nearby jottings of ideas for that novel I’m going to do for NaNo, scattered throughout the work:

Practice from Owl Notebook

Anyone have a favourite letter? Mine is ‘R’, obviously–so intuitive you can see I didn’t even need to practice it. Truly, it is the best letter of any alphabet!