Chapter Two begins with some very lengthy paragraphs describing the two women, the mistress and wife, from the controversial divorce case. One is attractive, one is pretty but homely. Naomi Phelps, the attractive, tall (5’8”) mistress and Frances Norton, the small blonde wife. I won’t bore you with further descriptions of the two, but come on, LKH, couldn’t you have chosen a different name for your abused homely wife than Frances?
Also, there’s this: “I was betting the blonde was the wife, and the other one the mistress. The blonde seemed the more beaten down of the two, which is usually the case with an abusive man. They may abuse all the women in their lives, but they’ll usually save the best or worst for immediate family. My grandfather had always done it that way.”
Ah, yes, abuse. I’m not trying to make light of abusive relationships or abusive families, but a common theme through both LKH series is that her main characters are abused women. Merry has her abusive family; Anita has her abusive family. This allows LKH to make blanket statements about abuse in the form of characterization.
It’s determined through a handshake that Naomi is part sidhe and has some natural magical abilities, but she’s unlearned/untrained or whatever. Merry then shakes Frances’s hand and OH BOY the spell cast on the poor wife just leaps over onto Merry, trying to fuse itself to her. This causes much turmoil in the office, as Naomi, with her whatever magical abilities can sense that Merry is trying to push the spell back onto Frances, and so she starts being rather forceful, trying to get them to leave.
Which then turns into yet another roundabout conversation of “I need to get this spell off of me without using my powers and back onto you so that it cannot be traced to you/me/us so you are not in danger, do you understand? Here let me state this for you again and again because repetition is awesome in stories!”
It’s not a bad scene. LKH does a really good job describing just how dark and leaching this spell is, and she tries really well to calmly explain to this shy, scared, abused woman just what is happening. The reasoning is pretty sound – Gray’s Detective Agency is the only detective agency in the US that specializes in supernatural problems, as they are the only agency to boast that every employee is either fey, a psychic, or just magical. Whoever placed the spell on Frances would definitely be able to track it to them and also would likely use the fact that Frances went looking for help as a reason to further hurt her.
It just takes for fucking ever to describe this scene, and LKH just ends up repeating the same sort of details over and over. It’s just word vomit. So much of what she writes could easily be edited down because it’s all just bulk and doesn’t really add anything to the scene. After Merry explains what is happening for like the third time, she finally moves past it with a “I started to tell her what I was about to do, but staring into her wide eyes, I didn’t bother.” WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE JUST DONE THIS TO BEGIN WITH. UGHHHHH.
So, Merry gets the spell off of her and back into place on Frances, without tripping anything to tip whoever placed the spell on Frances originally off. Frances collapses into a pile of tears with Naomi to comfort her, and Merry and Jeremy excuse themselves from the room to discuss the case further.
We get another round of “I just feel bad about this case, I can’t tell you why I’m scared to accept it, but I just need to!” from both of them. Because we needed more of that. They finally decide that they have to take the case, because neither could live with the women’s deaths when the spell/whoever placed the spell eventually kills them. It just takes FOREVER to get to this point. Such unnecessary.
Frances Norton: small, blonde wife in the divorce case. Has some sort of dark death-spell cast on her. Terrible name. Height: just a few inches taller than Merry/Jeremy. Which is silly because Merry is a few inches taller than Jeremy, so Frances could be anywhere between 5”1 (few inches taller than 4’11 Jeremy) to like 5’5 (few inches taller than Merry’s 5’3). Barf.
Naomi Phelps: gorgeous, tall brunette mistress of Frances’s husband. Has sidhe genetics and has some untrained power that she may not be aware of. 5’8”.
Uther: generic Gray’s coworker. Height not mentioned. Good babysitter.
Ringo: generic Gray’s coworker. Height not mentioned. Good babysitter.
TAAAAALKKKKK. Talk Talk Talk.