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Monday, May 19, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Nine

A bit of book business: Chelsea Gaither is giving away some copies of her sci-fi epic, Starbleached. Enter to win here.

Dottie's spork here.

Chapter Nine

"I thought I dreamed, but I wasn't sure. There were faces in the dark, some of them I knew, some of them I didn't."

Every day, thousands of impoverished commas go hungry, working night and day in sweatmanuscripts for little or no recognition. Adopt a comma today, and afford it a reasonable work week by not overusing or abusing it.

"Cherry with her short blond hair, her face free of makeup, making her look years younger than either of us were." 

Subtle negging on Cherry, I see. Classy.

"Gregory touching my face." 

What is it with everyone touching her face? Is everyone a stereotypical blind character from an eighties movie? The repetition in these books is terrible. The repetition in these books is terrible. The repe...sorry got stuck there for a moment.

"Jamil nestled beside me, curled like a dark dream."

NO. Oh no you didn't.

This isn't just a clueless author. She's going out of her way to exoticize every person of color with the misfortune to be crammed next to Anita, who are few and far between as it is. 

"I drifted in and out, from face to face, body to body, because I could feel their bodies pressed against mine. Naked skin against naked skin. It wasn't sexual, or not overly so."

Blah blah Richard is there too and it's so romantical, you guys. Anita wakes up in a cuddle pile--and the room is dark, what a surprise!--composed of at least one stranger. Anita is okay with this and wonders if she's been drugged to the point of not caring that someone she doesn't know is touching her. Ugh. She natters on and on and on about how it's so comfortable, like a blankie, or jammies, how it's like waking up on a day where you don't have any obligations. Good lord.

"The arm around my waist was muscled, definitely masculine..."

While I do not i.d. as a woman, I do have estrogen in my body and I do power lift. It is by no means a sport reserved for cis men.

This is a female power lifter:

So is this woman:

How about one more?

So tell me again how muscles and masculinity automatically go together. Not to mention, eating disorders and body image issues are also problems that impact cis men and transgender people. With that in mind, not all men or masculine identified people are going to have bulging muscles, no matter what this book may have you believe. Even those men who ARE very muscled may have a condition whereby they never feel muscular enough. 

"The skin was tanned and looked darker than it should have against the paleness of my skin."

DARKER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE. I realized after the initial pulse of rage passed and I'd swallowed a mouthful of bile that what she means is that she's even paler than usual thanks to being sick, but because she's such a racist piece of shit in general it certainly reads as bigoted instead.

Oh, Anita is also naked which makes her decide that she has indeed been drugged. Already this scene is creepy and the consent in it is very blurry.

"I was bathed in their energy, as if hot invisible water flowed around the three of us."

Hot invisible water, yall.

She once again remembers being hurt. Omg we know. She has scars now, so when she inevitably breaks in to her Badass Scars rant she'll have an excuse to go on for another two life-destroying minutes that I will never get back.

Basically, they have to drug Anita to get her to the point where she won't freak out over being naked or cuddling. Oh I know I mentioned this already, but see she had to tell me again, so here we are.

She starts to describe the stranger cuddling her and I have the sinking feeling that this is Micah. He's dark, but don't worry, it's just a tan! Phew, I thought we were going to get people of color cooties all over our perfect white heroine, but it's just to make him seem...wait for it, EXOTIC!

He looks like a reject from an early nineties dance video, in that he has a curly mullet and an eyebrow piercing. He's also flawless, you guys, because flaws would give him too much depth and as we know LKH is incapable of writing depth.

Sometimes LKH uses the word body to mean penis, and sometimes it just means body in the more traditional sense. This makes for hilarious sentences like, "the body looked young--early twenties--if that." What a youthful and perfect penis you have, good sir, may I have the pleasure of your name?

Mr. Curly Mullet wakes up. Har har they're naked together and it's so AWKWARD haha.

Wait, maybe this isn't Micah because he has brown eyes. I thought Micah had leopard eyes. Well, maybe he hasn't got stuck that way yet.

Oh okay this is Caleb, who is presumably another wereleopard. So how long has Anita been around wereanimals? I ask because all of them seem to have greeting and bonding traditions centered around being naked together. You'd think she'd be less of a blushing virgin about it, though admittedly waking up next to a stranger is not at all cool. I would be pissed at whoever gave that idea approval.

Sigh, Caleb is of course a fucking creep and tries to sex her up. She says very CLEARY that she needs to get out of the bed so what happens? The other strange guy spooned against her TIGHTENS his grip instead of letting her go.

You know, out of all the things to be consistent about character wise, it upsets me greatly that LKH has chosen lack of boundaries. Out of all the shit in her books, all the wacky changeable personalities, the nonsensical plots, and THIS is the hill she chooses to die on.

Okay Micah is the guy spooning her. "His face was too triangular, almost too delicate, crossing the line in to androgyny, the nose perky, a little less than perfect, his mouth wide, bottom lip thick and pouting."

Careless comma farming has caused a cruel industry whereby thousands of commas are heartlessly slaughtered and processed every day, with no thought to their well being.

Also androgyny is bad and it's apparently possible to have too much of it.

"Don't be afraid, Anita. We don't mean you any harm," the second man said."

Oh Micah, you lying piece of shit.

Anita tries to save her beautiful white skinned delicate purity by searching for some clothes. Whatever. She's already been naked with these two assholes all night but I can understand wanting to assert some control in a situation like this. If this were me I would be FURIOUS and FUCKING TRIGGERED beyond belief. I get that they need to give her warmth and the energy of other shifters to keep her alive, but what can't the wolves do it? Or leopards she already knows?

Micah introduces himself.

"His shoulders were narrow, everything about him slender, almost feminine. But muscles showed under his skin even at rest, lean muscle, not bulk."

I won't bore you to death with power lifting stuff but I think it's hilarious that a woman as supposedly attached to the gym as LKH is believes that you can control whether your muscles turn out lean or bulky. To some extent yes but you'd have to be on very specific programs in order to get either look. The people in her novels are like the Sims. They go to a building called a gym where we don't see what they're doing, a little bar fills up and they're magically fit after an hour.


Kellie Davis says go suck it, LKH.

See, here is where we really get in to the abhorrent gender politics. It's subtle by some accountings, but it rubs me raw every time I see it. Behold:

"As if mother nature had tried to make up for the feminine appearance by overcompensating in other areas."

Also being a man that deviates even the slightest bit from traditional markers in masculinity surely must be a broken, unlovable person.

Caleb stretches because he's a jerk and wants to show off his beautiful perfeect flawless muscled body. Gag. People with perfect bodies do not interest me. I find nothing erotic about two perfect Barbie dolls chafing against each other.

Caleb is the wereleopard version of Jason and I hate both of them. I can almost sympathize with Anita here. In fact she's being more temperate than I would be. I would be trying to stab both of these consent ignoring motherfuckers.

"I was willing to bet I wasn't going to like Caleb."

Micah takes pity on Anita and tells her where they put her robe. The robe is "very masculine." It disgusts me how even the narrative agrees with Anita's internalized misogyny. It's one thing to explore that issue through a character struggling with said same, but everything in the text seems to agree that masculine is always better than feminine, and miles away better than being visibly genderqueer.

Anita even has a gun in the pocket of her robe.

Micah is Nimir-Ra for the Maneater Clan. That sounds like a gay cabaret act, which isn't doing much to assure me of Micah's VIRILE HETEROSEXUALITY. BECAUSE HIS DICK IS SO BIG.

Okay confession time. The main character of NDT has a big dick. This is both good and bad. No one ever talks about the downsides of a big dick. Some people will get a gander of that thing and reject you outright. Some lovers treat you like a breathing dildo. Not sexy. If it's long enough it touches the toilet bowl when you need to take a shit. Big dick problems, okay? And Micah's is even bigger than my MC's. As a friend of mine said "tragically huge." Because WOE it is so big, ONLY THE WOMAN WITH THE MAGIC VAGINA CAN TRULY LOVE HIM.

Anita is appropriately pissed that another alpha has invaded her territory. She's approaching a real person in this scene and I'm on her side. Oh, Eliazbeth invited him. Remember the shit head from earlier that let Nathaniel get captured? Why the fuck does she even have the authority to extend an invitation to another alpha, and why is Micah so stupid as to accept?

Anita's beast does stuff.

Anita decides to kill Elizabeth. She ought to have come down hard on Elizabeth in the beginning and asserted herself, and then maybe she wouldn't be in a position where she now has to kill a subordinate in order to maintain her alpha status.

Okay so Elizabeth has authority as second? Anita, you are dumb as a box of hammers. Why the fuck would you let Elizabeth continue as your second? You are all too stupid to live, but I know you will live because the author can't bear to kill her self insert.

Micah is reasonable, saying that when he found out Anita existed he came by to help heal her in an effort to make up for the insult of entering her territory. Well, I can see why this guy ends up with the Shapeshifter Coalition, since he's the only marginally competent person in all of St. Louis.

Apparently being a Nimir-Raj is very rare. I don't get it. Without a Nimir-Ra or Raj leopards are in danger, but hardly any pards actually have a king or queen? Again we have weird and random culture mixing as Micah mentions a "leopard lionne" which is apparently a wereleopard who can protect but not truly lead. Anyone else uncomfortable with how all your life decisions are made by your biology once you become a shifter?

Micah offers to heal Anita further with his Nimir-Raj abilities. Anita very reasonably asks someone she trusts to vouch for him before she lets him play hand ball with her soul. Another leopard comes in who is also well endowed. Jesus. Also not interesting if all of your characters have massive joke penises. It would be a lot more erotic to me if a guy had a small dick but was still good in bed through other means. Not to mention, smaller penises are ideal for some people and some situations. Not everyone likes the same flavor of ice cream, LKH.

Oh, this is Merle. I love Merle. He's competent, not perfect, and reminds me of a friend of mine. He's Micah's body guard and reasonably points out that if all of Anita's hangers on cram in to the room he can't protect his Nimir-Raj adequately. She natters on about how she's not so insecure as to argue the point and the most hilarious line in the book so far happens:

"Yes, those that hoard their power are often insecure." 

This woman who is supposedly NOT insecure and therefore doesn't hoard power? Who has several animals inside her (heh), vampire marks, pseudo psychic powers, and is an animator? Who can't go to the fucking bathroom without a high powered firearm nestled against her tits?

Here comes Cherry and again Anita feels the need to comment on another woman's body. If I didn't know better I'd say this was written by a clueless cis dude  because usually they're the most apt to describe their female character's breasts, but LKH is a woman (and an alien) and yet does nothing but talk about breasts.

But she's happy to see "another woman" and woman is defined as person "without a penis." Trans women who are pre or non op exist you essentialist piece of crap. Femme performing men and male assigned at birth people also exist.  Genderqueer get the point. Granted Anita may very well not know that and she doesn't have to be a shining example of trans inclusion, but the text itself agrees with and props Anita up at every turn.

Cherry also touches Anita's face because everyone is an extra on the set of Scent of a Woman.

Micah again repeats that he can heal Anita, which he refers to as "calling the flesh." Anita has already forgotten what this means.

Nathaniel is here. He is ALSO perfect, having healed from all of the sword wounds.

It's implied that everyone is waiting around for Anita to turn furry. That would be actually interesting, so it won't happen.

Anita asks what calling flesh is. Ergh.

Cherry says she only believes in Anita omg hugs and rainbows. This just reads like all of these traumatized people are seeking out another abuser as their savior because it's familiar. Anita says some indulgent smarmy bullshit about how she always tries her best for the leopards. Wow, her best really sucks.

The dialogue in these books is fucking painful, circular, and boring. They repeat a bunch of POINTLESS BULLSHIT we already know.

Oh my god. This is all set up so Micah has to lay her down on the floor and take her robe off.

Fine, he gets some points for covering her back up once he has her arm free, I guess. Blah.

Skin skin skin energy electricity skin. A bunch of bad writing that repeats the same thing two or three times. Micah starts to heal her and everyone dances around the subject of her maybe shifting. Anita who was so modest before randomly wants the lights on now but they won't do it because bullshit reasons.

Micah's beast "curled through me. It was almost as if some great invisible cat were sliding in and out of my body...this cat went places not even a lover should be touching."

What, her spleen? Her eyeballs. I bet they feel like peeled grapes.

"The power stretched between us like taffy pulled between the hot sticky fingers of children."

There are a lot of unfortunate and unpleasant analogies in this scene.

Micah springs it on Anita that he's going to have to do some heavy petting to heal her, claiming that if he'd meant he was just going to lay hands on her he would have said so. You're an asshole, Micah. You should tell her exactly what you're going to do before you do it.

Oh RIGHT Anita can call munin too, the stupid rape-y wolf ghosts. She has the ability to call Raina in particular, which I suppose is fitting considering Raina is a heartless sexual sadist. At least Raina was honest about it.

Micah kisses, licks, and bites her till she's better. This could be so good but it's just weird and dubious as far as consent goes. Shit like Anita feeling the need to explain to me what an erogenous zone is bog down what could be erotic. I don't understand exactly why you'd heal someone's mostly okay arm by biting them hard all over. Isn't that just trading one type of suffering for another? Unless you love being bitten, of course, but Anita really doesn't seem to enjoy it.

"I could smell blood under his skin like some exotic candy that would melt on my tongue and slide down my throat."

1). Exotic
2). That's what candy does, generally.

Jean-Claude's needs make her want to feed on Micah.


She learns that J.C. is in jail, because all of these bonds and powers end up functioning like a game of telephone.

Anita's doors open and wind rushes through and it's ELECTRIC and OF THE GRAVE but also WARM because THAT MAKES SENSE.

"A wind that tasted of both my men. But I was the center, the thing that could hold both of them inside and not break. Life and death, lust and love." 

"What are you?" Micah asked, his voice a surprised whisper."

A hideous narcissist with co-morbid obsessive compulsive personality disorder, thank you for asking.

"I'd always thought that vampires took their victims--stole their will with their eyes and took them like magical rape. But in that instant I knew it was more complex than that, and more simple."

No, she doesn't explain what this means.

As an aside, I think one of the more unique things about me doing these breakdowns is that unlike a lot of sporkers I actually am poly and in to BDSM. And people don't like to hear this, but consent can get very complicated in BDSM. Of course the basics should be adhered to, risk aware kink and all that. But you cannot possibly account for everything. No one can do that, especially not in a highly charged, highly changeable situation like BDSM scenes are. What about a submissive that says, you have my permission to fuck me when I am passed out? Then the dominant does as they've been instructed, but it turns out the submissive felt violated by it in practice. That's a complex situation and it requires a deft touch for both parties to emerge intact.

However, deft and LKH do not go together. She is supposedly poly and a kinkster, yet she comes up with things about as deep as a grease puddle.

I ALSO have no idea how something can be "more simple" than rape. Despite what I said up there, rape is pretty damn simple.

I will never get these hours of my life back. I have been doing this for like two hours and it's still not over. I could have done so many things instead. Worked on my ms. Read a good book. Bought a cotton candy machine. I don't know.

There is wind and suddenly Anita is talking like an extra from Game of Thrones. The wind is SCALDING and TWISTING and omg I don't care.

"Until it drove like a knife inside me." 

Authors, you aren't allowed to use "like a knife." Ever. That is the worst analogy ever invented and I am hard pressed to think of one more overused.

Wait, the wind is real? It's moving Micah's hair? Someone in this room needs to stop eating beans.

Basically all this bullshit is their beasts recognizing each other as king and queen. Micah's dick is big and hard, because Micah is essentially a breathing dildo that nods its head every time Anita speaks.

So are these the bits LKH re-wrote when people called her too rape-y? Because Anita is offering Micah what sounds like a mating offer. Oh wait, I...Jean-Claude is making her do it? I have no idea why? What does he want with a leopard?

Micah asks what she wants in return.

"I want to drink the warm rush of your body, to have you fill my mouth with that hot liquid that beats just below here," and I rubbed my lips across his neck." 

That doesn't sound like her at all. Maybe J.C. is talking through her? I hate everything about this incoherent bullshit scene. I have no idea what is going on or why I should care. The only thing I do know is that J.C. and Anita are conspiring to trap Micah against his will. So he might rape her later, but she's raping him now.

MICAH IS FLAWLESS. Do you guys understand? FLAWLESS. FLAWLESS IS BORING. I don't want to watch perfect people fuck.

Her beast is "hovering in my body like some huge thing."

No one gets to use "like some" anymore either. I am going through my books and viciously cutting any "like some" uses. Ugh.

Anita drinks a bunch of stuff down, though not come because that would be too sexually honest. Things rush and there's cats inside her and blood is like frosting and I want to puke.

I think Micah comes on her? Or shifts? Either way she's just drenched in fluid.

Finally it's over.


  1. “Like a dark dream” Oh WOW

    “The body looked young “ AHAHAHAHAHA

    …the robe. The robe is masculine. THE FUCKING ROBE.

    The biology=destiny theme disturbs me hugely, yes

    I think she says the “nice to see another women” bit just to remind us how she’s surrounded by men. She does that in other situations too, like with the police or the gym.


    “Life and death, lust and love” Wait, lust and love are opposites?

    As someone neither poly nor into BDSM, I actually do value your input/sporks for just that reason on these subjects, actually. A lot of times in my sporks, especially the most recent one, I ran into scenarios where I wasn’t sure if LKH was actually portraying these things wrongly, or if it was just my own ignorance on the matter.

    1. She does a worse job at BDSM than 50 Shades. It's shocking. Oh and if you think Jamil is bad wait until Black Jade shows up!

  2. Sadly, no, this is *not* the edit. That comes in the next chapter (at least, I think it is; knowing how she cuts them up, it could be two away before she gets into the shower, I honestly don't remember). I have the original version, so, like I offered to Dottie, I can type up the section for comparison if you want.

    1. I had to dig it out and look it up; it's in chapter eleven. I'll type up where I believe the edit would be in the newer release.

  3. Thank you for putting what I seem to never be able to accurately say with LKH's "BDSM". I cannot wait until you start getting to the books where Anita becomes "poly". Bash it to pieces, please!

  4. I typed up what should be the relevant chunk of text. It's four pages in Word, double-spaced, since I started it from when Micah basically really makes his move. Do you have an e-mail address I can just send it to?