Hello friends, I’m back! Life has settled down enough for me that I’ve got a good amount of free time to dive back into the terribly shitty world of Meredith Gentry, Princess of the Unseelie Sidhe. Let’s give a little recap of what’s happened in her world, since it’s quite unlikely any of you remember.
In the previous book, A Lick of Frost, I forced myself through 29 chapters of pure boring nonsense. Nothing even remotely interesting happened. King Taranis of the Seelie accused several of Merry’s guards of raping one of the Seelie fae, so much of the book centers around proving them innocent. Merry is supposed to sleep with two of the goblins as part of her pact with the Goblin King. One of the only interesting characters of the series, Jonty the Red Cap, becomes super emotional when Merry announces that she will help the Red Caps return to their full power and sheds one single tear, which Merry catches on her finger and eats. This causes Maeve Reed’s giant Hollywood home to turn into a new sithen. However, the sithen requires a sacrifice in order to maintain its power, which forces Frost to turn into a giant stag and run away. This destroys Merry, so she wanders off to be alone, which is a stupid thing to do because King Taranis, who is her uncle, kidnaps her, magically tricks her, and then rapes her. The book ends after Merry is rescued, it comes out that the rape accusations against her guards was a lie concocted by Taranis. While on the way to the hospital, they find out Merry is pregnant BUT BY WHOM.
That book was such a slog to get through, it really turned me off of doing any more reviews for a year plus. During that time, I switched jobs TWICE and bought a house. We’ve been in the house for a year and everything has been awesome, so now’s as good a time as any to restart this thing. Hope you’re in for the wild ride that is Swallowing Darkness*.
*It’s not even remotely wild.
Chapter 1 begins with Merry at the hospital, so pretty much right after the previous book concludes. She’s in the maternity ward, because she is pregnant. Now, I’ve never been pregnant, but would she really be in the maternity ward of a hospital so soon after learning she was pregnant? They literally just found out, and she was being treated for a concussion/sexual assault. I suppose she IS a faerie princess, so her biology is probably a wee bit different, but this seems like it would be a stretch to me. I could be wrong, though!
Merry knows that Taranis could not be the father, as again, the sexual assault just happened. She also knows she’s having twins, which again, if you just find out you’re pregnant isn’t it a little too soon to know that for sure? Merry is grieving over the loss of Frost, since she has no idea if her fathered her twins, or if it was one of the other many guards she’s been having sex with.
Doyle is in the room with her, and he announces that he will kill Taranis. Merry stops him from doing this, because she both does not want a war with the Seelie court and does not want to lose Doyle, since she had just lost Frost. They have what I guess is supposed to be a tender moment, but it just feels really awkward.
“I want him dead, yes, but I won’t destroy all of faerie for it, I won’t get us all kicked out of the United States for my honor. The treaty that let our people come here three hundred years ago stated only two things that would get us kicked out. The courts can’t make war on American soil, and we can’t allow humans to worship us as deities.”
“I was at the signing of the treaty, Meredith. I know what it said.”
I smiled at him, and it seemed strange that I could still smile. The thought made the smile wilt a little around the edges, but I guess it was a good sign. “You remember the Magna Carta.”
“That was a human thing, and had little to do with us.”
I squeezed his hand. “I was making a point, Doyle.”
It just feels so awkward and forced, and the point is stupid!
Anyway, the tender moment doesn’t last long because Sholto and Rhys enter the room, so Merry turns her attention to those two. Doyle moves aside so Sholto can give Merry a chaste kiss on the cheek, and then we get his with the whammy that is One of the children I carried was part his and I apparently totally blocked this out of my memory, because it took A LOT of researching before I realized that this was divulged in the previous book.
Merry’s twins are apparently fathered by three separate dudes each, just like one of the fae legends. Rhys, Frost, Galen, Doyle, Mistral, and Sholto can all claim paternity over part of a child. This is just weird and somewhat gross.
Anyway, they all argue over who gets to duel Taranis, and even though Merry has told them all, repeatedly, “No”, they keep arguing with her over who gets the right to duel him. Finally, Merry pulls out her trump card (seriously?)
“I’m the one he raped. I’m the one who is about to be queen, if we can keep our enemies from killing me. I say what Taranis’s punishment will be.”
Merry’s master plan is to charge Taranis of rape in the “human courts”, which will somehow prove that the Unseelie Sidhe aren’t the bad guys, I guess? Anyway, even though Merry proclaims that no one can duel Taranis, they still keep pestering her about wanting to kill Taranis themselves. Merry finally gets them to drop it by telling them she doesn’t want to lose anyone else. To which Doyle responds that if Frost had known how much his loss would affect Merry, he probably would have fought harder to not be taken by the sithen.
Turns out, both Doyle and Frost had an identical dream on the same night, where one of them would be sacrificed for “the return of faerie’s power”. Frost willingly chose to be sacrificed, because he thought that Merry loved Doyle more. And despite the fact that it’s been made VERY CLEAR throughout the entire series so far that Merry actually DOES love Doyle and Frost most, she starts shouting about how much she’d miss ALL of them if they were to die.
A doctor walks into the room and chastises the men for upsetting Merry. This doctor, Dr, Mason, is apparently one of the best “baby doctors” in the entire state or country, and was sent to care for Merry by the Unseelie queen, Andais, Merry’s aunt. Despite basically loating Meredith, Andais is apparently thrilled over her pregnancy, which again, remember, was JUST ANNOUNCED BY ACCIDENT AT THE END OF THE LAST BOOK, and this book seemingly takes place maybe a day or so following the events of the last book.
As what happens in every LKH book, the two female characters start bickering over some imagined power structure. The doctor is upset that Merry is upset. Merry is upset because the doctor apparently told Doyle some stuff about the babies before she told Merry (who was ASLEEP FOR HOURS). It’s just a page of back-and-forth of incredibly annoying bickering, then Merry explaining how fae magic works, then more bickering, then a “is that a THREAT?!” and ugh.
Seriously, in basically any LKH book where the main character encounters another female character who holds any position of authority (a doctor, another cop, etc), there’s ALWAYS a scene of them struggling for authority over the other. ALWAYS. It’s typically explained away that the other authority figure just doesn’t understand and either backs off or remains a problem throughout the story. It’s annoying and played out.
Finally, after all that, the doctor performs an ultrasound on Merry to prove to Merry that her babies are as healthy as can be for two few-week old fetuses. Even Merry thinks that they’re too small to make anything out, other than two small dots that “didn’t even look real yet”.
The doctor finally leaves after reminding the men to not upset Merry, which of course they have to argue over first. They then ignore it completely and start fighting over who gets to be king.
“Where did you send Galen?” I asked.
“He is fetching someone who I thought would help us.”
“Who and where from? You didn’t send him back into faerie alone?”
“No.” Doyle cupped my face in his hands. “I would not risk our green knight. He is one of the fathers and will be a king.”
“How is that going to work?” Rhys asked.
“Yes,” Sholto said, “how can we all be king?”
“I think the answer is that Merry will be queen,” Doyle said.
“That is no answer,” Sholto said.
Anyway, the chapter ends with a little more fighting because Merry realizes that Doyle is trying to do a little magic on her so that she will sleep. She fights it, because of course, but eventually gives in and falls asleep.
This is the second book in a row that starts off with just boring bickering. It starts off confusing as fuck, not really explaining anything. I have read this book something like 4-5 times now and I SHOULD REMEMBER THIS but major plot points from the previous books are just thrown out into a boring mess of bickering that I just gloss over everything. WHY DO YOU WRITE LIKE THIS, LKH.
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