Oh, boy. I have been gone for so much time. I’m not even going to apologize anymore, but here’s chapter 19. I wrote this in November when I was still in Ireland and it never made it up here. Am I a bad person? Maybe. Can I still make content? Who knows.
Summarizing this chapter is going to be really hard because it’s one of those where I kind of just want to quote the whole thing. Like, okay, let me set up the whole scenario: Gansey and Ronan have the decaying body of a nightmare that needs to get disposed of, somehow. They show up at 300 Fox Way at like six in the morning to grab Blue, asking her, and I quote, “how do you feel about doing something slightly illegal and mildly distasteful?”
How does one expect me to read this chapter and not freak out? I can’t believe it.
Back to business, as usual, we get a little OOTD from Blue, but this time it’s through Ronan’s POV. I’m not even going to try and describe this one, so just strap in. Ronan for editor in chief of Vogue, that’s all I have to say on that.
She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.
(I promised I’d tell you when we got hints that Ronan’s gay, and although they’ve been coming thick and fast lately, this is one of the ones referred to a lot on the internet because it’s both subtle but, once noticed, impossible to misinterpret)
Blue, not to be outdone by Ronan, gives Gansey an outfit critique that mostly stems from the fact that she’s never seen him in jeans and a T-shirt. There’s a lovely description of all the “pleasant nooks and corners” that a T-shirt allows everyone to notice about Gansey’s collarbone, and then Gansey calls the outfit slovenly. This turns out to be the dress code for the distasteful activity they’re about to participate in, so Blue goes back inside to change. And put shoes on. All good things.
The next scene—the entire thing, I am not lying—is perfect. Blue holds a shouted conversation to Maura about where she’s going with the boys while Gansey expresses his disapproval about the legality of the plan they’re about to carry out, just to get it on the record, and Ronan responds exactly how you would expect him to. I just realized I still haven’t said what they’re doing, so here it is:
“Well,” Gansey said slowly as the thunder rumbled once more, “the illegal part is that we’re going to Ronan’s family’s property, which we’re not allowed to do.”
Ronan flashed his teeth at her. “And the distasteful part is that we’re burying a body.”
They pick up Adam and head to the Barns, which reminds me a lot of the Burrow. The way that it’s been built upon over a series of years as a family expands, with no regard for style or aesthetic. But the most important part of the description is how clearly Ronan expresses his love for the place, and how much he misses it. He’s so happy to be home and so scared, because it’s all been taken from him, and the presence of everyone else in the car makes it that much better and that much worse.
The mood is ruined by the fact that Gansey and Ronan forgot a shovel. They ask Adam how to solve the problem (“’Einstein?’ Ronan addressed Adam”), which he helps solve not because he’s the smartest one but because he and Blue are the only ones with any modicum of common sense. They head towards a barn to look for tools, but, on the way, they find a cow sleeping in the middle of the field. Ronan says something in Latin (“Not death, but his brother, sleep”) again, for The Drama.
Gansey and Blue are engaged in some kind of Heckle and Jeckle comedy routine in which Gansey makes vaguely annoying and problematic comments about everything and anything just to listen to Blue take the bait and argue with him. It’s very cute and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
The rest of the cattle are in the barn, along with a beautiful but slightly impossible peacock, also asleep. To lighten the mood, Ronan calls Adam and Blue “you two Poverty Twins,” which, first, is exactly the kind of comedy I’ve been missing, and second, makes Blue run to Gansey and demand that he discipline his child. Adam rolls his eyes at all of them and confirms that, yes, all of the animals are sleeping, and no, they have no idea why.
To show that not everything that enters the Barns falls asleep Ronan finds a mouse nest in a feed bin and pulls out one of the babies. I know I’ve been critical of characterizations of “old Ronan” in the past couple of chapters, but that’s because I knew this one was coming: Ronan, gentle, holding the baby mouse up to his cheek so he can feel its heartbeat. Remembering when he and Matthew used to play with the babies before they learned to be afraid of humans. Feeling at home.
He passes the mouse around so everyone can feel its heartbeat, which is one of Those Moments that I think about all the time, even before I was writing the reread. They grab the shovel and bury the nightmare, taking turns digging until they’re sweaty and tired. We find out that Ronan calls the creature a night horror, or niri viclis, which Adam points out isn’t Latin. The puzzle box from the beginning of the book comes to the forefront of Ronan’s mind, because maybe that’s the language nobody knows. Maybe Blue was right. But Ronan doesn’t want to admit that, so he stops thinking about it.
And then, a moment that I have marked as the ultimate moment of camaraderie (and my copious research on the Canterbury Tales for class prompted me to post-it “Chaucer + his compaignye could never”):
There was something warming, Ronan thought, about all of them burying a body on his behalf.
Gansey wants to go to Nino’s. Adam, his exhaustion so obvious in his voice that Ronan is curiously concerned for him, doesn’t care where they go. Neither does Blue. But this is when Ronan looks at Gansey and finally, finally shows a little bit of the vulnerability he’s been hiding this whole time. He wants to go and see his Mom. How can Gansey deny him that?
Thoughts and Feelings:
This chapter wrecked me. Ultimately, I think it’s the perfect balance of comedy and emotion and I’ve been sitting on this chapter review for over a month so I’m going to stop there and get to rating. I think it’s pretty obvious from the summary how I think and feel about this one.
Best Character Moment:
Grudgingly, she accepted the tiny mouse and held it to her cheek. A surprised smile crept across her mouth. With a tiny, happy sigh, she offered it to Adam. He didn’t seem eager, but at her insistence, he pressed the little body against his cheek. His mouth quirked. After a second, he passed the mouse on to Gansey. Gansey was the only one who smile at it before he lifted it to his face.
Best Turn of Phrase:
Ronan parked beside a plum tree laden with fruit. Once, he’d had a dream that he’d bitten into one of the fruits, and juice and seeds had exploded from inside. Another where the fruit bled and creatures came to lap it up before they burrowed under his skin, sweet-scented parasites.
Action: They walk around a barn? But somehow, I’m note bored. 8/10
Magic: THE BARNS ARE A MAGIC CASTLE AND I’M AN OVERENTHUSIASTIC REAL ESTATE AGENT. 15/10
Comic Relief: Boy oh boy was this chapter sad but boy oh boy did the cow lead for a lot of comedic opportunities. 9/10