Undead and Unwed Chapters 15-16: Let’s All Have An Exposition Dump!

In the beginning, every time Shanara tries to say something, Betsy responds, ”Shut the fuck up,” until she throws a $5 bill at her and tells her to go buy herself a real name. Which is pretty funny coming from someone who chooses to call herself “Betsy.” She calls her a slut and a fashion eyesore, and starts referring to Nostro as “Noseo,” because again, she’s 5.

“…So, when did you die? You don’t look a day over sixty.”

Her flat bosom heaved in indignation. “I became gloriously transformed in 1972.”

“That explains the nails and the bellbottoms.”

“These are in again!” she nearly screamed, pointing to her Gap knockoffs.

“Nope, sorry. I know, I know, it can be hard to keep up. Most people aren’t smart enough to pull it off.” From the front I could hear a curiously muffled sound, almost like someone was strangling on their own laughter.

Then she calls her Shaloser, Shamu, Shanockers, and refers to Nostro as “Nostril”… because again, she’s 5. She then says “god” and Shanara flinches in pain, so she starts saying god, Jesus, some prayer, whatever. Shanara says “Don’t say Those Words!” to which Betsy says, “Stop talking in capital letters and I won’t. I’m mostly bringing this up because for some reason throughout the series someone says something with random capital letters, and somehow whoever they’re speaking to can “hear the capital letters” and it’s dumb as fuck.

She starts interrupting everything Shanaynay says with “are we there yet?” and muses how proud she is that she’s incredibly irritating. They get to Nostro’s lair, with a bunch of other, pathetic vampires hanging around. He demands she join him and not Sinclair, she whines about how stupid it is they they refuse to live their lives individually, mentions them hanging onto their souls to everyone’s surprise, and then he ends up choking her and throwing her into The Pit, and someone jumps down with her.

Chapter 16, that someone is a vampire named Tina. She’s Sinclair’s second-in-command, and she tells Betsy that she is the foretold queen of the vampires, fated to rule for a thousand years. Her full name is Christina Caresse Chavelle, which I’m just noting because that’s pretty dumb. Also Betsy again mocks someone’s name, while choosing to go by “Betsy.”

Tina gives Betsy a thick padded envelope containing a tiny gold cross, saying only she can wield it. She tells Betsy that this is where Nostro keeps “The Fiends,” vampires who were never allowed to feed once raised, so they went insane and feral.

A gate is raised and The Fiends try to attack, with Tina throwing herself in front of Betsy. However, they back off, and Betsy realizes it is because of the cross, which is glowing with a faint golden light. She then realizes that these are the creatures that attacked her outside of Khan’s all those months ago. She’s both furious and sympathetic towards them, and wields the cross at them so that they flee.

They climb out of The Pit, and Tina reveals her allegiance to Sinclair, and that she wishes Betsy to come with her and tell him what happened this night. She then tells Betsy (well, eventually) that there is a Book of the Dead, except this time and this time only they call it something else:

“There is a book. We–vampires–call it Tabla Morto. A thousand years ago, vampires knew you were coming: A Queen shall ryse who has power beyond that of the vampyre. The thyrst shall not consume her, and the cross never will harm her, and the beasts will befryend her, and she will rule the dead.”

And yes, I do know “Tabla Morto” is an attempt to Latinize “Book of the Dead.” The point is, this is the only time they ever say the “Latin” name, and if you Google Tabla Morto for funsies, guess what pops up? Undead and Unwed.

Anyway, Tina spends a good while trying to convince Betsy that Sinclair–oh, excuse me, Sink Lair–is actually a good guy. She tells her that Sinclair “saved her from Nostro,” because “Sinclair was strong the moment he woke. Some–a very few–are like that.” Keep that in mind for later.

Anyway, the reason his immediate strength is important is that Tina is his sire. Now I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’ve been reading everything from Anne Rice to LKH to Charlaine Harris to frickin’ Twilight (I hate to criticize that which I have not read) and many, many in between since I was in the latter years of elementary school. One thing that is pretty universal in vampire lore is that your sire? Your sire is stronger than you. Now, you may outgrow your sire–maybe you become stronger than they are in time (save the fact that age is what makes one powerful, for the most part), but a newborn waking up immediately stronger than the damn vampire who made them? Is pretty unheard of. Because it’s fucking stupid, unless it’s a mystical plot point like Betsy and the prophecy about her. Sinclair is not the famed, fated vampire “Kyng” (I just assume she’d throw a ‘y’ in there), but he woke up stronger than his maker. And had to save her.

And it’s not like Tina was nearly a newborn herself. She states in this very exchange that she “was born the month and year the Civil War began.” Again, it’s not entirely clear whether she means human-born or vampire-born; they seem to calculate those ages separately. I do not know. At least in Sinclair’s case I have reason to believe he meant his vampire age, but I’m not positive. Also, how weird and random coincidental that they both get to say some dramatic “I was born the year started,” did MJD just like the sound and the dramatics of that so much she really had to do it twice in one book? I mean, yeah, obviously, but also obviously that’s fucking stupid. Do all vampires operate this way? Quick, name me a war around either April 12 1974 or the same date of 2004, Betsy needs undue gravitas!

Anyway, the Civil War began April 12, 1861. World War II began September 1, 1939. That is 78 years, which in normal vampire fiction time may not be exceptional, however the majority of the vampires in this series seem to have been born in the 20th century. Yeah, there are some outliers here and there, but not all that many. And the two most powerful we’ve met, and seemingly will meet, were both born somewhere in the 19–s, unless we go by vampire age in which case Betsy was born in 2004. Either way, it’s pretty dumb.

Also I want to point out when Betsy asks Tina in this conversation how old “Nosehair” is, she claims, “No one knows. From his strength, I would guess at least four hundred years. Maybe more.” That is a pretty goddamned good guess, considering later in this very book, Betsy borrows a book on significant vampires which lists both his exact human and vampire births: he was born February 14, 1627 and became undead December 26, 1656. And maybe you’ll think well, maybe Tina didn’t read that book. Maybe she’s just not a research kind of gal, and I will respond that Tina is constantly presented as the cleverest, most intelligent, well-informed and information-seeking vampire any of them know. In later books, Betsy claims “Tina could out-Patton Patton.” Tina would absolutely have done her research and read that fucking book; this is just another example of how MJD cannot keep any basic facts about her characters straight.

Anyway, Sinclair was strong the moment he woke, and Nostro let him go for unknown reasons: “Among other things, he’s quite mad. Which I’m sure you couldn’t help but noticing–and his judgement is open to question. Perhaps he was curious. Perhaps he was afraid.”

“Perhaps he’s a flaming dumbass. This guy’s got to watch more James Bond movies. They’re like Bad Guy 101.”

And Tina tells her of how he let him go, and let him take Tina with her. She was at the mansion tonight because they constantly like to send their allies into each others camps, and they’re always welcomed so that either one of these morons can secondhand show off to each other. But, y’know…Nostro is insane and insanely violent, so that makes perfect sense! Oh, wait…

Tina talks about how she’s seen him slaughter entire first grade classrooms (while she was too hungry and weak to stop him, apparently), and thus Betsy really ought to throw her allegiance in with Sinclair. I think I forgot to mention they stole a car somewhere in this dialogue, but they did and Betsy says she still doesn’t agree to go to Sinclair’s house, only to be told, “We’re here.” Surprise! Also, Tina mentions being a lesbian after Betsy accuses her of being attracted to him.

Anyway, they meet another vampire named Dennis, he again mocks Betsy’s name (I guess that means they’re instantaneous friends?! Nah, that only works with Marc I guess) and Tina takes off somewhere. For the only book ever Betsy mentions a love of plum wine, and he goes to a bar with a mirror above it to get her some. She again mentions how they’ve retained their souls. Dennis is shocked, and Betsy says a minister told her so, and they can’t lie.

She also points out in an attempt to convince him that they do have reflections, and then kinda undermines her point by pointing out how stupid an idea that is anyway because, “D’you see the bar? How about the bottles? And the floor? And the chair in the corner? We can see those in the mirror. And dogs and cats. And babies and frogs. They all cast reflections,” and he points out that she just undermined her point to which she says, You make my case. And so do I. I mean, you probably hated blue jeans before you died, right?” which makes him shudder in horror at the thought of denim, and she goes on and on to say that since they’ve retained their pre-undead personalities, they remain ensouled.

Anyway, he says babyvamps are intolerable–they are essentially feral for at least 5 years. He questions why she isn’t like them, she jokes it must be clean living, “No, it’s something more.” She gets uncomfortable and asks where Tina and Sinclair are, “I think he’s feeding with his ladyfriends,” and then he leaves to go check on them. Betsy slams back her wine and there’s an implication she’s gonna take off for home, but then she hears a woman screaming and takes off for the stairs instead.

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