"Nathaniel had gotten one of the extra crosses out of the glove compartment. I always carried spare crosses, just like spare ammo; when you hunt vampires, running out of either one is really bad."
Holy fuck beans, so we went through that whole eyes vs. cologne cloud reckless driving eating perfect strangers nonsense because everyone forgot there were crosses in the glove compartment?
Her only defense for this fuckery?
"Sometimes I'm a bit slow."
Anita is trying to describe her physical state in contrast with how beautiful the day is. This is how LKH sees fit to do so: "it was one of those glorious end of summer days, sun-warmed, sparkling, bright, and soft at the same time."
Adjectives are like culinary lavender: one bud too many and your cookies taste like dish soap.
What follows is one of those paragraphs you really only find in LKH's books and the books of her imitators, where so much is wrong I don't even know where to begin. Let's go with the fact that Anita says something angsty about being cold in a way no blanket will fix, then immediately jumps to Nathaniel being curled around her lower half like a blanket. I see what you did there, and I don't like it.
Nathaniel is somehow wedged between the floor and Anita. What kind of magical clown car does this woman own that this is possible? She goes on an extended tear about how Nate is like a dog, and that's great because dogs don't think about sex (?) and she needs a dog and not a person and Nate sometimes isn't a person.
Anita ponders the fourth vampire mark. Apparently it will make her ageless and immortal as long as J.C. is around. Holy shit, talk about power creep. She does go in to some interesting ideas about her Christianity versus being immortal, which in a better book would be truly fascinating.
Also let me just pause here and say that I am religious. I practice minority religions but I do believe that Christianity is real and applies to its adherents. And as a religious person, Anita's take on it chafes. She is the epitome of Sunday Christians, the kind who are only Christian when it suits them, who are only Christian because they go through the motions. Her idea of what God is, is ultimately self serving. The handful of times we've seen God through her eyes, He's essentially just showing up to sign off on all of her depravity. He's not a God, an almighty being with plans and desires and needs of His own. Rather, He is a toy for Anita to play with, a handpuppet that says whatever Anita wants Him to say. That's not spirituality, it's narcissism.
Someone is following them. Earlier in this journey I might have felt a twinge of excitement, a little relief from the endless ruminating, off putting fucking, and misuse of analogies. But now? I know this will amount to exactly nothing. I honestly don't know how she can let her first drafts be published. If I had to publish a first draft I'd drive off a cliff Thelma and Louise style.
Anita doesn't know why people are following her because the two cases she's working on don't have any stand out features. Is this what Anita considers working? I have absolutely no clue how many days have passed since the beginning of this book and I'm hazy on whether she was asked to raise someone's ancestor then because this meandering wordy dung heap is so thick. I mean, though, even if its only been like three days, that's enough to get you fired in most places unless you're having a legitimate issue.
Nathaniel suggests--rather sensibly I might add--that the people following them might be Belle's daytime servants. These differ from the type of servant Anita is because they don't have any vampire marks. They're called Renfields and generally want to be turned in to vampires themselves. I don't know how I feel about all of these terms culled from Dracula. I think it's potentially a cool idea, but because it's LKH it feels lazy. She uses the terms, throws a faint sketch out there, and that's it.
They think they've lost the car, but then the smell of roses happens and Anita's cross starts to glow. Anita is all, Belle can't roll me with a cross on. Caleb asks her why and she says because she has faith in God and faith that the cross will work. She adds that she's not sure how Caleb can doubt God's existence and power. Again this annoys the piss out of me because she doesn't really have a relationship with God. She hardly prays. She doesn't live her life according to anything approaching Christian values. She doesn't study her faith or think about how to apply it to her situation. She references God when she's trying to justify her deeds and when she needs something, e.g. the cross glowing. God never requires anything of her. He's just there to give her a hug sometimes.
Belle is here and her eyes are honey fire and her hair is like a cloak and oh my god whatever. Then she and Anita are menaced by darkness. How do I know? Because Anita proceeds to use the word darkness eleventy billion times:
"The room that Belle had constructed of dreams and power collapsed, shredded like the dream it was, and what ate at the corners of that bright candlelit room was darkness. Darkness absolute, darkness so black that it held shines of other colors, like an oil slick, or a trick of the eye. As if this blackness was a darkness made up of every color that ever existed, ever sight that had ever been seen, every sigh, every scream, since time began. I had heard the term primordial darkness, but until this moment I had never understood what it meant. Now I understood, I truly understood, and I despaired."
Holy fuck balls is that awful. It is one of the most awkward and overwritten things I've ever read, even in contrast against other things LKH herself has written. The stuff about oil slicks and tricks of the eye is serviceable at best, and sadly it's probably the most coherent part of this entire ungodly paragraph. Anita once again can't decide if she's an early 00s tough as nails vampire hunter in St. Louis or a character in The Castle of Ontranto. It's also so clearly just LKH riffing on the page as she goes, and I personally don't want to read that shit. Riffing is first draft business, not meant for the light of day.
At least I sincerely hope that this is a first draft, but hope starts to wane as I soldier on...oh before I quote the turgid slime I am about to subject you to, let it be known that Anita by her own admission is looking in to the abyss, in to primordial darkness, but she's not afraid. No siree! Anita is not afraid of a Lovecraftian monstrous thing from before light itself existed, this unnameable beast that even draws a scream from Belle Morte. And as pathetic as all of this posturing and telling is, what sucks even more is that making a character this supposedly badass just strips her of anything the reader can sympathize, let alone empathize, with. We don't want to spend time with her, and she's not well written enough to make us fascinated to the point where we'll accept the fact that she's despicable and go along with things because my god, we just need to know what happens next.
So here we go: "My mind kept trying to find words to describe what it was. It did loom over me like a mountain, because it had weight and that claustrophobic feeling of a mountain poised to come crashing down, but it was not a mountain."
Wow, thanks for clearing that up. The primordial darkity dark darkness of shadowy doom is not, in fact, a mountain.
"It was more like an ocean, if an ocean could have risen up taller than the tallest mountain and stood before you, waiting, defying gravity and every other known law of physics."
Soooooo it's NOT a mountain NOR is it an ocean, yet somehow it IS both an ocean AND a mountain because I don't know.
It is extremely embarrassing to watch LKH try her damndest to pull out her top shelf writing chops and fail so miserably. Moments like these are where great writers shine. Hell, even middle of the road writers often know how to capitlizie on their skills and give a good mood/description sandwich, spread thick on delicious story-bread. Here, it's like the time I made the mistake of going to a Denny's in Fargo and received a very dubious 'sandwhich' for my troubles, that despite retaining the general shape one expects had zero to do with food. When I purchased it this 'book' had all the characteristics one looks for, but a proper cover and an ISBN can't take the place of actual writing. LKH is the dry floppy mystery meat of literature, or maybe that weird crunchy hard thing you come across in your burger patty that fills you with a special kind of unnameable dread.
She continues meandering about this, eventually figuring out that this is the first vampire, only to end with: "There was a time when she walked among us, fed on us, and when darkness falls, somewhere in the back of our skulls, we remember the hungry dark."
IT IS FUCKING DARK, YOU GUYS. AS DARK AS A BAGFUL OF ASSHOLES. AS DARK AS THE HEART OF THE FIRST PERSON TO LOOK AT ROTTEN SHARK AND THINK, I COULD FERMENT THAT.
CHRIST. Not that He's going to turn up or anything, because this is a serious situation that can't be fixed by patting Anita on the back and really, what purpose does god have other than showing up to rub Anita's balls from time to time?
There's very little I hate more than when Anita tries to wax philosophical. She's dithering on about how light overcomes darkness. She starts to pray to Mary (?) and conveniently she has her cross in the dream, and the darkness dissipates. She spent like a million years of my precious life describing the darkity dark as the most powerful gloomy shadowy dark black darkity dark LIKE EVUH and she managed to push it away with a single prayer.
Also this chapter is endless so I am going to stop here in the interest of posting this damn thing.