Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 15: A Dream Sequence So Thrilling it was as if I Needed Several Espressos to Get Through It.

I hate these dream chapters and I’m going to make you all suffer through it just like I do.

The dream began as many dreams inside faerie began for me, on a hill. I knew it wasn’t a real hill. It was more the idea of a green gently sloping hill. I was never certain whether the hill had never existed outside of dream and vision, or whether it was the first hill from which all others were copied. The plain that stretched below the hill was green and full of cultivated fields. I’d stood on this hill and watched war come to faerie, and seen the plain dry and dead. Now it was so alive. Its wheat was golden, as if autumn harvest was just about to begin. But there were other fields with vegetables, where the plants were small, just breaking above the surface of the rich earth. The plain, like the hill, represented an ideal. The fact that it was solid underfoot–and I knew that if I walked down I’d be able to touch the plants, rub the grain between my hands, and see the kernels free of the dry husks, all of it real– didn’t change the fact that it was both real and not.

That’s a shit ton of words to simply say “The hill and plain existed in a dream and felt real”.

There was a tree beside me on top of the hill, a huge spreading oak. Part of the tree had the first green leaves of spring, another had bigger leaves with the tiny green beginnings of acorns, then the leaves of late autumn and the brown acorns ready to be picked, all the way to a section that was winter-bare with only a few acorns and a few dried brown leaves clinging to the branches. I stared up at the dark lace of branches and knew they were not dead, but only resting. When I’d first seen the tree it had been dead and lifeless; now it was what it meant to be.

That paragraph is four sentences.

I touched the bark of the tree, and it had that deep, thrumming energy that old trees have. It was as if if you listened hard enough you could hear it, but not with your ears. You heard it with your hands, or your face where you pressed it against the cool roughness of the bark. You felt the life of the tree beating against your body as you pressed yourself into its hard sides. It was like a slow, deep heartbeat that started as the tree, then you realized that it was the earth itself, as if the planet had a heartbeat of its own.
For a moment i felt the turn of the planet, and held on to the tree as if it were my anchor to so much reality. Then I was back on the hilltop, and I could no longer feel the pulse of the earth. It had been an amazing gift to sense the hum and flow of the planet itself, but I was mortal, and we are not meant to hear planets’ heartbeats. We can have glimpses of the divine, but to live with such knowledge every moment takes holy men or mad men, or both.
I smelled roses before I turned to find the cloaked figure of the Goddess. She hid her face from me always, so that I got only glimpses of her hands, or a line of mouth, and every glimpse was different, as if she went back and forth in age, color, everything. She was the Goddess, she was every woman, the ideal of what it is to be female. Looking at that tall cloaked figure, I realized that she was like the heartbeat of the planet. You couldn’t see her too clearly, or hold her too starkly in your mind, not without becoming too holy to live, or too mad to function. The touch of Deity is a wondrous thing, but it carries weight.

Merry, you’re CONSTANTLY touched by the Goddess or carrying her powers. Every single book has at least one or two chapters where you flounce around performing insane acts of magic powered by the gods.

“If this place had died it would not have been just faerie that died, Meredith.” Her voice was like the glimpses of her body, many voices melding into one another so you would never be able to tell what Her voice was, not exactly.
“You mean reality is tied to this place too?” I asked.
“And is this not real?” She asked.
“Yes, but it is real, but it is not reality. It is neither faerie nor the mortal world.”
She nodded, and I got a glimpse of a smile, as if I’d said something smart. It made me smile to see Her smile. It was as if your mother had smiled at you when you were very small, and you smile back because her smile is everything to you, and all is right with the world when she smiles at you. For me as a child, it had been my father’s smile and Gran’s.

I think this is the second instance of “It was as if…” in this chapter alone. LKH frequently uses that sort of comparison when it’s really not necessary. I definitely got the feeling she was describing simply through her stating “She smiled and me and that made me smile.” But, nope, LKH has to hit you over the head with exactly how her characters are feeling at any given moment instead of letting the reader suss it out themselves.

The sorrow hit me like a blow through my heart. Revenge and the wild hunt had put the grief aside, but it was there, waiting for me. You cannot hide from grief, only postpone when it will find you.
“I cannot stop my people from choosing to do harm.”
“You helped me save Doyle and Mistral. Why couldn’t we save Gran?”
“That is a child’s question, Meredith.”
“No, Goddess, it is a human question. Once I wanted to be sidhe more than anything else, but it is my human blood, my brownie blood, that gives me strength.

Humans are children compared to the sidhe, got it.

“Do you believe that I would be able to come to you like this if you were not the daughter of Essus?”
“No, but if I was not also the granddaughter of Hettie, and the great granddaughter of Donald, then I could not walk through the human hospital to save Doyle. It is not just my sidhe blood that makes me the tool you need.”

All the other of Merry’s men were able to stroll through the hospital without issue. Probably not the comparison you want to make when the series is chock full of the full-blooded sidhe existing in human settings without problem.

She stood there, Her hands drawn back into Her cloak, so that all of Her was in shadow. “You are angry with me.”
I started to deny it, then realized She was right. “So much death, Goddess, so many plots. Doyle has nearly been killed twice in just a few days. Frost is lost to me. I would protect my people and myself.” I touched my stomach, but it was flat, and I did not feel that first swelling of my pregnancy. I had a moment of fear.
“No fear, Meredith. You do not see yourself as pregnant yet, so your dream image is how you see yourself.”
I tried to quiet the sudden racing of my pulse. “Thank you.”
“Yes, there is death and danger, but there are also children. You will know joy.”
“I have too many enemies, Mother.”
“Your allies grown in number with each magic you perform.”
“Are you certain that I will survive to sit on the dark throne?”
Her silence was like the wind, howling across the plain. It had an edge of coldness to it that made me shiver in the light of that sun.
“You are not certain.”
“I can see many paths, and many choices being made. Some of those choices lead you to the throne. Some do not. Your own heart has debated whether the throne is even what you want.”
I remembered moments when I would have traded all of faerie for a life-time with Doyle and Frost. But that dream was already gone. “If I was willing to leave all of faerie behind and go with Doyle and my men, Cel would hunt me down and slaughter us. I have no choice but to take the throne or die.”

She could easily kill Cel and plant one of her allies on the throne. Easily.

She stood with aged hands on a cane now. “I am sorry, Meredith. I thought better of my sidhe. I thought they would rally around you when they saw my grace return. They are more lost than even I could have imagined.” Sorrow was thick in Her voice so that it made me want to cry with Her.
She continued. “Perhaps it is time to take my blessings to the humans.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you wake, you will all be healed, but there are too many in faerie who would do you and yours harm. Go back to the Western lands, Meredith. Go back to your other people, for you are right, you are not just sidhe. Perhaps if they see that my blessings can pass them by and be given to others, it will make them more careful of them.”

Make… them? More careful of them? Make them (the sidhe) more careful of them (Her blessings)? Write better, LKH.

“Are you saying you would use me to give magic to mortals?”
I am saying that if the sidhe turn away from me and mine, then we should see if there are other more grateful hearts and minds.”
“The sidhe are magic, Mother; humans are not.”

So, I don’t know if this is a me thing or what, but why use the semicolon in dialogue, especially in a sentence that short? It really adds nothing that couldn’t have been done with a simple period. I’m not a huge fan of semicolons in fiction, though, so definitely just may be me.

“The very workings of their bodies are magic, Meredith. It is all miracles. Now sleep, and wake rested, and know that I will do what I can for you. I will speak loudly to those who still listen. To those who have shut their hearts and minds to me, I can only put obstacles in their paths.” She gestured toward me, and Her hand was young again. “Rest now, and when you wake you will go back to the mortal world.”
The vision began to fade, and I was once more aware that I was in bed with my men. My hand no longer ached from the thorns, and I could move it so Sholto and I were free of our hand-binding. The thought was sold enough to wake me, but the blanket of flower petals tucked itself under my chin, like a mother tucking you in when you were very small, and again I had that feeling that nothing could harm me. Mother was there, and all was right with the world. I had a moment to find it strange that this abstract feeling of the Goddess was more comforting than she herself had been on the hillside. I felt the brush of a kiss on my forehead, and heard her voice, Gran’s voice. “Sleep, Merry-girl. I will keep watch.” And as I had when I was small, I believed, and slept.

This was, thankfully, one of the shorter dream chapters I’ve read so far in this series. They’re all like this, though. Paragraphs and paragraphs of overly descriptive babbling to sort of set the stage, followed by a scene that likely is mean to mean something but is so overly explained any meaning the audience is supposed to derive from the scene is just lost. It’s a slog. It’s boring. It’s not fun to read. And it’s 100% why I burn out so quick on this series.

IMPORTANT

Breonna Taylor was murdered in her house by police who raided the wrong house and was shot 8 times while she was sleeping. Call or E-mail the Louisville Mayor’s office and demand that the officers involved be charged!

Louisville Mayor, Greg Fischer
– (502) 574-2003

-Text “ENOUGH” To 55156

“ENOUGH” to 55156

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