We start off this chapter in the best possible way: soft homoeroticism. Literally what more could you want? If I never write anything but rip-offs of Gansey telling Ronan he used to smell like smoke and lemon cleaner, I’ll be disappointed, sure, but not unhappy. It does serve to function more as more symbolism of Old Ronan vs. New Ronan, but come on. Sexy barn smells? That’s too good,
But, just to remind you what’s really going on, the Gangsey (minus Noah, which is sad) are illegally exploring Ronan’s family home. It’s full of dream things, for obvious reasons, and so they all decide to make a study of what came from a dream and what came from IKEA.
“Remember how I told you that Dad—that my father was like me?” He pointed to the toaster. It was an ordinary stainless-steel toaster, room for two slices of toast.
Gansey raised an eyebrow. “That? Is a toaster.”
Dream toaster! Perfect.
There are many other dream things which I don’t feel like listing here because I’m ~lazy~! Except for the most important one, which is the mask. Remember the mask that Ronan had the nightmare about, which killed Adam and brought back two gross winged beasts that needed to be killed with a boxcutter and an incredible amount of luck? Yeah, that mask. Adam tries to pick it up and Ronan slaps it out of his hand. He also grabs Adam’s wrist, which. You know how human contact is.
So Ronan’s confused and angry and how does our resident bad boy deal with that? That’s right, he punches the wall! Hard. Gansey is the one who stops him. Adam doesn’t do anything because Adam knows that only Ronan can fix Ronan. Blue quietly sticks close to him, for moral support, as he heads into the sitting room to see his mom.
And there, in the middle of it, was his beautiful mother. She had a silent audience of catheters and IVs and feeding tubes—all of the things that home nurses always felt she would need. But she required nothing. She was a sedentary queen from an old epic: golden hair swept away from her pale face, cheeks flushed, lips red as the devil, eyes gently closed.
And then, the usual end of chapter bomb drop (but this one you probably already guessed): she’s sleeping because she, too, is one of Niall’s dream things.
Thoughts and Feelings:
The crazy thing about this chapter is that it’s supposed to be super emotionally intense but like… we’ve been there so many times with these characters. I’m not attached to Ronan’s mom a ton, which is a weakness of the writing that continues throughout the series. The one that we’re primed to care about is Niall, especially given that what happened to Aurora was so ambiguous we weren’t even sure if we were alive at this point.
I understand Steifvater’s impulse to go for shock value. In young adult novels, this usually pays off. But in this case it just fell flat for me? And I know I’m going on about it a lot, but as the main reveal of the episode it really seems like a thing I should care about.
Beyond that, I thought what we got with Ronan was really good. It’s nice to be inside his head and understand why he gets to the point of violence against inanimate objects. When I think about this moment I like to bring us back to the parking lot scene in the first book. When Ronan’s fist connects with Declan’s jaw, we’re in the Gansey/Blue/Adam point of view. We don’t know why he’s doing it beyond what his friends conceive of him, and as much as we love his friends, they aren’t inside his head. Ronan is an incredibly complex character, and thank God we got to see underneath the proverbial BMW hood in a moment like this.
Also, dream toaster. Very good!
Best Character Moment:
This was the sort of thing Gansey couldn’t resist, and so Adam and Ronan moved further down the hall towards the dining room while Gansey lingered over the flowers. When Ronan glanced over his shoulder, Gansey stood with one of the blossoms cupped in his hand. There was something humble and awed in the way he stood, something grateful and wistful in his face as he gazed at the flower. It was a strangely deferential expression.
Somehow this made Ronan even angrier.
Best Turn of Phrase:
“Were you just going to stand there?”
“Yeah,” replied Adam.
“Decent of you,” Gansey said.
There was no heat in Adam’s reply. “I can’t kill his demons.”
Action: Good! People are punching. 7/10
Magic: DREAM TOASTER DREAM TOASTER I’M NOT GONNA SHUT UP ABOUT THIS UNTIL I DIE 11/10
Comic Relief: I mean. It’s teenage boys and Blue Sargent, so there’s always going to be some humor, but this one was lackluster at best. 5/10