Previously on Obsidian, Daemon infodumps about aliens for thirteen pages, then informs Katy that his people have powerful enemies who’ll want to torture her to pieces.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold or block-quotes, it’s paraphrased snark.
The glorious sun rises the next morn and casts its soft golden light upon our fair heroine, who’s sprawled open-mouthed across her bed, suffering the various physical consequences of last night’s hiking through the woods, running for her life at full-speed in nonathletic shoes, being tackled to the ground, and getting the shit shaken out of her by a screaming alien. She doesn’t recall any of this, though:
I couldn’t remember exactly why I thought it was best I stay asleep as long as possible, but I knew there must be a good reason.
Have I mentioned recently how unrealistic and boring characters like her are? The ones who never think about or react to the things happening around them? I have? Moving on, then.
Katy cracks open her bleary eyes and OH SHIT DEE WHAT IS DEE DOING IN KATY’S FACE.
DEE: “I was watching you sleep.”
KATY: “Okay, that’s creepy.”
Dee needs to chat with Katy about the whole alien identity thing, and . . . hold on. Katy’s in a guest bedroom of Dee and Daemon’s house, wearing nothing but an “oversized shirt” that “had [Daemon’s] scent” on it. What the fuck happened after the last chapter ended, that she’s waking up here wearing Daemon’s dirty shirt instead of next door—you know, where her own bed and clean pajamas are?
Katy ducks into a bathroom to scrub the sleep-drool off her face, and it’s only when she feels a flash of pain from a scratch on her cheek that she remembers oh, right, ALIENS.
So she rushes out of the bathroom to inform Dee she’s an alien (“You’re an alien”), Dee curls around herself like a puppy bracing for a blow (“You don’t hate me?”), Katy mutters lackluster reassurance (“I don’t hate you”), and Dee spends the next several pages ecstatically (and tediously) showing off her various alien powers—which include shapeshifting into Katy:
“This is . . . weird.” I squinted. “Does my nose really look like that? Turn around.” She did. I shrugged. “My butt doesn’t look bad.”
FYI, “Daemon can do about anything. He’s one of the most powerful of [the aliens].” Yes, fine, good.
And now it’s Dee’s turn to infodump about aliens:
- The Luxen’s enemies are the Arum, which—to emphasize the book’s stunning laziness—are evil creatures of darkness.
- Because Katy’s been marked/touched by Daemon’s power, she’s glowing a magical glow (called a trace) that the Arum can use to hunt this little community of Luxen down.
- If the Department of Defense found out that Katy knew about aliens, they’d . . . kill her? Apparently? To prevent her from spreading the truth about aliens living among humans, because humanity’s response to “everything we didn’t understand” is “rioting and looting“? Uh, okay.
So Dee informs her that Katy needs to stick close to Daemon until the trace of his power fades off of her, to protect her from both the Arum and the government, because both entities will kill her. Katy’s response—oh wait, she doesn’t get to respond, because the chapter ends. Fucking Christ, this book.
Apparently the evil darkness Arum folks don’t do their murdering until nightfall, so Katy’s back at her house, anticipating spending a lovely day full of books and zero Daemons, which is going to be relaxing and grea—
A sharp knock on the back door jarred me out of my thoughts. I went to the door and Daemon stood there.
He’s come to see if she wants to “do something,” by which he means “go to the lake,” the one where he manipulated and threatened and humiliated the shit out of her all those weeks ago. “UGH, FINE,” she ughs, while fantasizing about wiping her face over his “utterly magnificent” upper body.
And off they go into the woods alone, Katy and this terrifying alien creature who only last night added literal physical assault to his list of charming qualities.
DAEMON: “So, uh, you’re being weirdly calm and incautious for someone who ran from me screaming last night.”
Ah, and here’s the real reason Daemon’s herding Katy out into the wilds alone:
to spend yet another chapter infodumping alien-facts to have a private Q&A. Great.
But tricky mischievous Daemon won’t just answer her questions after telling her he’ll answer her questions. No, she has to perform for him first:
“What do I have to do?”
“Meet me on the rock [in the middle of the lake].” He turned back to the lake and kicked off his shoes.
“What? I’m not wearing a bathing suit.”
“So?” He turned around, grinning. “You could almost strip down—”
“Not going to happen.” I folded my arms.
“Figured,” he replied.
He sweet-talks her into swimming to the rock in her clothes by telling her he had a great time when they were here at the lake together the last time, and she decides, “I sort of understood him better. Underneath it all, I think he wanted to be normal.” I think Katy’s been having long, spoilery conversations with the author, if that’s the conclusion she’s jumping to.
So Katy obediently swims to Daemon (but only after he uses his alien powers to warm the lake water from frigid to bearably cool; dude, aren’t you supposed to not be doing your alien magic around her, so the glowing trace of your power that’s clinging to her will fade?) and he hauls her and her now stuck-to-every-crevice-of-her-body clothes up beside him on the rocks, and the infodump begins.
- Daemon can become invisible somehow. (Well, he explains, but his explanation makes zero sense.)
And now we interrupt our infodump for the romance
DAEMON: “You do dislike me, don’t you?”
KATY: [Trying valiant not to paw at his gleaming muscles] “Uh, well, not exactly?”
DAEMON: “Regardless, I appreciate the calm way you’re hanging out with my badass abusive alien self, and the kindness you’ve shown to my dear sister. I like that about you.”
KATY: [BRAKE SQUEALING SOUND] “You like me?”
DAEMON: “Uh. Next question?”
KATY: “Okay, totally unrelated, but can you, like, date and make sweet non-tentacley love with humans? Asking for a friend.”
Picking up on the fact that she’s (a) curious about the functionality of his human anatomy, and (b) definitely not asking for a friend, Daemon carefully considers the situation, decides that neither evading or answering her question is sufficient, and:
Daemon’s lips curled into a half smile, and that was the only warning he gave. Moving unbelievably fast, I was on my back and he was above me in a flash. [ . . . ] There wasn’t an inch of space between our bodies. Air fled my lungs at the contact of his body against mine. He was male and ripped in all the places I was soft. [ . . . ] I could feel every breath he took, and when he shifted his hips, my eyes went wide and I gasped.
Oh, yeah, certain stuff was definitely working.
Daemon rolled off me, onto his back beside me. “Next question?” he asked, voice deep and thick.
Please note that I am not making the “deep and thick” joke that the book so eagerly set up for me, because I’m too busy winding up both arms to punch the face off Daemon’s face.
In what world is it okay for a guy to respond to a girl’s awkward flirting by pinning her down and dry-humping her to prove that his dick is functional? Especially if he initiates this contact without warning, and so quickly that she doesn’t have time to protest?
Yes, Katy eventually enjoys the sexiness of the situation, but that doesn’t excuse Daemon’s decision to do this without first getting her consent. If their relationship had been significantly healthier—if it featured mutual respect, recognition of each other’s boundaries, verbal acknowledgment of their mutual attraction and a desire to see where it goes, and the acquisition of consent before intimate contact—then yeah, I can see this scene (with a few small edits) being hot. But their relationship isn’t healthy, and this is just one more example of Daemon controlling Katy and her body with no consideration for her own wishes.
Amazingly, Katy agrees with me (to an extent):
I didn’t move. I stared wide-eyed at the blue skies. “You could’ve just told me, you know?” I looked at him. “You didn’t have to show me.”
“And what fun would there be in telling you?” He turned his head toward me. “Next question, Kitten?”
Instead of pressing the point, Katy just asks why he calls her Kitten. (Answer: “Because you’re powerless but don’t realize it, like a kitten trying to claw and bite.”)
(I swear to god, every man who condescendingly compares women to adorable defenseless animals who’re powerless against his big manly self needs to be taken out back and—uh, scolded. Firmly scolded. I do not actually condone violence, no matter how many knives I’m over here sharpening.)
Back to the infodump.
- The Arum don’t have awesome powers like the Luxen do, so they hunt the Luxen to steal those sweet powers for themselves. Somehow?
- Daemon’s killed, like, bazillions of Arum.
- The quartz in the nearby Seneca Rocks “throws off [the Luxen’s] energy signature,” hiding them from Arum detection.
Katy suddenly (finally) realizes that the man who attacked her at the library was an Arum, and (as Daemon takes her hand and starts caressing it) asks if she’s in danger of being found by another Arum. Daemon says that “[h]opefully there are none nearby,” and even if there are, the trace of his magic on her will fade and then she’ll be safe.
DAEMON: “But until such a time as you’re no longer a beautiful glowing radiant beacon of my power, I’ll have to put up with having you within inches of my rock-hard body 24/7. I hate to do it, but preventing the Arum from finding you and torturing my location out of you is the only way to protect my sister, the only female in the universe I truly care about. Wait, why are you pulling your disgusting soft delicate human hand from mine, I wasn’t done fondling it.”
KATY: “I DON’T NEED A BABYSITTER, MOM.”
She gets up to swim away, but he grabs her arm:
His grip didn’t tighten, but I had a feeling he wanted to shake the crap out of me even though I knew he never would.
No? You don’t remember how he shook the crap out of you last night, huh? Going to keep trying to convince the reader that he isn’t actually a physical threat to you, despite all evidence to the contrary? Okay.
Daemon insists that yes, she does need a babysitter. But to ease the blow to her pride, he reluctantly agrees to let Katy be friends with Dee, despite the fact that the prospect Seriously Displeases Him. Katy sneers that she’s glad her friendship with Dee has his approval, and—shh, do you hear them? The woe-cellos are starting to hum:
His little half smile didn’t reach his eyes. His smiles rarely did. “I’ve already lost one sibling because of how he felt for a human. I’m not going to lose another.” [ . . . ] There was a pause, and then, “My brother fell in love with a human . . . and now they’re both dead.”
This makes three infodump chapters in a row, and we’re now perfectly set up for a fourth. Great.
Is anyone else slowly dying of disinterest, or is it just me? I mean, yeah, Daemon might be impressed and relieved by how little emotion Katy’s showing about the whole aliens exist, and as a result my life is in danger on multiple fronts situation, but as a reader I’m flailing my hands in frustration.
Because, seriously, after her initial terror in the previous chapter, she’s shown nothing but vague curiosity; no fear, no excitement, no horror at the realization that the people around her—that the universe—isn’t remotely what she thought they were/it was. Just vague curiosity, and the continued desire to touch Daemon’s nakedness.
It’s fucking dull, and there are still twelve chapters to go.