Last time, the Summerton Silvers rioted upon seeing the Scarlet Guard broadcast, and Gisa’s hand was broken. This time, time skip!
Mare has run out of the house after bringing Gisa home. She couldn’t face her parents’ grief, or her guilt over Gisa, or how she failed Kilorn, and says, “I’m a coward.”
Italic Abuse: 37
Eventually she slows down by an inn outside the village. The patrons of the place are usually servants of the court, easy pickings, and every summer Mare pickpockets them while Kilorn watches and smiles. Or they used to: “I don’t suppose I’ll see his smile for much longer.”
Italic Abuse: 38
Mare’s been having a tough couple of days. Everyone has, really — between Kilorn’s surprise conscription, Gisa’s hand (why), the fisherman dying, basically every Red being punished…
Anyway, Mare understandably angsts for a while, stealing “Silver money” because “[she] guess[es] causing pain is all [she’s] good for.”
Italic Abuse: 40
Mare steals from drunks, “pasting on a smile to hide [her] hands.” ‘Hide’ is kind of a weird word to use here — the smile’s not going to hide her hands unless she manages to get them behind it (which is really creepy now that I think about it). All smiling can do is divert attention away from her hands.
Midnight comes and Mare’s still in the inn: “One last pocket, I tell myself. One more and I’ll go. I’ve been saying it for the past hour.” No you haven’t. This book is written first-person — I know what you’ve been thinking to yourself, Mare. It’s been angst, not this. Please remember your POV, book. (But nice italics use!
…I cannot believe this is something I have to compliment.)
Then Special Victim appears! Mare tries to steal from him. “It’s too easy to reach out, too easy to hook a finger around the strings of his coin purse. I should know better by now that nothing here is easy, but the riot and Gisa’s hollow eyes have made me foolish with grief.”
I like the thought process of ‘easy equals false’, but Mare does have precedent for this being an easy night, as far as theft goes. She’s been effortlessly, mindlessly filling her pockets for hours without anyone noticing. I get that it’s because this guy is Special Victim, but it’s still inconsistent with what the book’s been showing/telling us.
‘Foolish with grief’ is a pretty phrase, but it’s still:
Fooling Around: 9
Special Victim catches her. His hands are very hot, temperature-wise. Mare is feeling a little martyr-ish, understandably, and awaits her punishment despite her fear. The guy says, with surprise, “‘Thief.’” No duh. Mare agrees with me. Then Special Victim turns into Creepy Guy as he “stares at [Mare], scrutinizing everything from [her] face to [her] worn boots.”
How about no. Yet I sense that this is actually one of the book’s love interests. I guess Kilorn was a decoy. Nice that there was a platonic female/male friendship before either side gets a love interest — I haven’t seen that in a YA novel for a while.
So, Creepy Guy is creeping it up but then he lets Mare go, thank goodness. Mare is shocked, then is even more so when the guy flips a coin — “A tetrarch. A silver tetrarch worth one whole crown.” — at her.
Italic Abuse: 41
Creepy Guy becomes Vaguely Condescending but Still Generous Boy (VCSGB) when he says, “‘That should be more than enough to tide you over[.]’” Apparently his eyes “glint red-gold, the colour of warmth.” Do you mean the colour of fire? Warmth has no colour, and typically when attaching it to eye colours one says ‘warm brown eyes’ or the like.
Mare describes VCSGB: he has glossy black hair and pale skin, and is broad-shouldered, strong-legged, and little older than her, “though not nearly as assured of himself as any nineteen- or twenty-year-old should be.”
Yup, he’s a love interest. Will Kilorn be paid much attention after this chapter, I wonder? Also: how many nineteen/twenty-year-olds do you know to base this ‘self-assurance’ thing, Mare, considering most people you know are conscripted at eighteen and may not come back for years?
Then she says “I should kiss his boots for letting me go and giving me such a gift, but my curiosity gets the better of me. It always does.” No, it doesn’t, Mare. Remember when Farley randomly started referring to her organization instead of herself, and you…didn’t ask anything, despite the fact that it was completely out of nowhere and you’d shown no qualms about being a rude little snot for no reason, hence you wouldn’t have been worrying about nosiness? Remember that? ’Cause I do.
Anyway, this newfound curiosity that has apparently always gotten the better of Mare makes her ask, in a harsh tone, why VCSGB did this. He continues to live up to his name, saying that “‘You need it more than I do.’” This makes Mare want to throw the coin at him because she’s a bit prideful, but by now she knows better, asking herself, “Has today taught you nothing?”
Italic Abuse: 42
So instead this happens: “‘Thank you,’ [Mare] force[s] out through gritted teeth.” Some redundancy here — if she’s saying it through gritted teeth, then it’s already been shown that she’s forcing it out. But I digress.
VCSGB laughs at her because he is VCSGB. Then he continues on in this vein, telling her not to hurt herself, and takes a step closer. Please stay away, VCSGB. Mare thinks in mild agreement with me, “He is the strangest person I’ve ever met.”
Italic Abuse: 43
He asks if she lives in the Stilts, and Mare says yes, gesturing to her appearance as evidence: “With my faded hair, dirty clothes, and defeated eyes, what else could I be?” Do you mean ‘where else could I be from’, Mare? VCSGB didn’t ask you if you were a Stilts citizen. Also: you can’t see your eyes, Mare. Your hair, sure. Your clothes, definitely. But not your eyes, unless VCSGB is a reflective surface. Book, please remember what POV you’re in. (How many times am I going to say that in this recap? Maybe I should make a self-counter…)
She then looks over VCSGB, noting the contrast between herself and him: he wears a clean shirt and reflective leather shoes. (Maybe that’s how she can see that her eyes are defeated.) Apparently VCSGB “shifts under [her] gaze, playing with his collar. [Mare] make[s] him nervous.” Please stop handholding, book — the way he was shifting under her gaze and playing with his collar implies nervousness. You don’t need to tell us. (Also: see, VCSGB? Staring incessantly makes people uncomfortable because it’s creepy and weird. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it/Golden Rule/etc.)
VCSGB goes pale and asks if Mare likes living in the Stilts. Mare and I are again in agreement: “‘Does anyone?’” she says.
“But instead of retorting swiftly, snapping back like Kilorn would, he falls silent.” Why are you comparing him to Kilorn? How did Kilorn appear in this? This is really random??? Also, if you’re going to be randomly thinking about Kilorn, Mare, then shouldn’t the whole ‘guilt-conscription-Gisa’s hand’ thing show up again?
VCSGB asks if Mare’s heading back and Mare patronizes him: “‘Why, scared of the dark?’”
Hey, Mare! I have three questions for you:
- What are you doing.
- What are you doing?
- WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHY ARE YOU SASSING HIM HE IS A STRANGE GUY AND YOU DON’T KNOW IF HE’S A SILVER OR NOT
At least Mare wonders if she should probably be afraid instead of snarking random people in the dark when nobody knows where she is. She even emphasizes my point: “He’s strong, he’s fast, and you’re all alone out here.”
Italic Abuse: 44
But VCSGB smiles at her. Apparently “the comfort it gives [Mare] is unsettling.” Agreed. That this random guy’s smile is comforting to Mare is weird. Shouldn’t the smile bring on relief that he’s not murdering her on the spot? Why comfort? (I’m sure it’s because he’s one of the love interests and so they have a ~*connection*~ but I don’t care, it’s still either being stupid or just using the wrong word.)
VCSGB says, patronizingly, that he’s not scared of the dark but wants to make sure Mare keeps her hands to herself. He introduces himself as “‘Cal’” and wow a sensible name! Amazing! I feel like the name’s a reference to his colour-of-warmth eyes and super hot hands, which I like. He offers Mare his hand to shake, but because his hands are super hot Mare doesn’t take it. She gives him her full name, Mare Barrow, which really just makes me think of bone marrow and horses. Apparently ‘Mare’ is also an Irish variation on ‘Mary’, so I wouldn’t complain about this name so much if it fit in with the other names in the book. But it doesn’t — the names are a mixture of made-up-and-ugly, real-and-incongruous, and pretentiously Roman, so ‘Mare’ in this context will always sound like she’s talking about equine matters. Also — and I know lots of books do this, so it’s not really a commentary on Red Queen — why did she give him her full name? Is there another girl named Mare in the village that she has to differentiate herself from? People don’t usually introduce themselves by full name unless there’s been a precedent set, and Cal only went by his first, so there isn’t.
Mare walks away because she’s too cool for Cal (ha!), but he soon catches up, teasingly asking if she’s always this pleasant. “[…][F]or some reason, [Mare] feel[s] very much like [she’s] being examined.” Despite the official naming of Cal, he still retains some traces of his old epithet, Creepy Guy. Anyway, Mare doesn’t much mind because the money he gave her keeps her calm. “Silver for Farley. How fitting.”
Italic Abuse: 45
Mare tries to throw him off the topic of her pleasantness by saying that he must get paid pretty well. “It works beautifully and he retreats.
“‘I have a good job,’ he explains, trying to brush it off.”
So: she tells us what she’s going to do, then she does it, then she explains what just happened. Amazing.
Mare says that makes one of them on the having-a-job front, and Cal says, “‘But you’re –’
“‘Seventeen,’ I finish for him. ‘I still have some time before conscription.’”
How did Mare know what Cal was going to say? He could have been saying anything, there’s no reference to age or conscription, but somehow Mare is able to easily finish what he’s thinking? God, I hope this isn’t to show how ~*in-sync*~ they are. But what I actually think this is is that the author’s forgetting that Mare shouldn’t know everything that the author does.
Cal’s displeased and asks how much time Mare has, and Mare says that it’s lessening every day. “And Kilorn has even less than me.”
Italic Abuse: 46
Okay but why didn’t you think of this when you randomly mentioned Kilorn earlier, Mare?
“His [Cal’s] words die away and he’s staring again, surveying me as we walk through the woods. Thinking.”
- The last words that were said aloud were Mare’s, so Cal’s shouldn’t be dying away. This really should have been put after Cal’s line of dialogue. Its positioning now makes the ‘his’ makes it seem like Mare is referring to herself in third-person and also using a male pronoun to do it. Alternatively, if we go by last person mentioned, it’s Kilorn, so then it looks like it’s saying that Kilorn’s words died away, which is not the case.
- …Can you not think about Mare’s situation without creeping on her, Cal? Is the staring really necessary? Don’t make me revert to your old name.
3. Italic Abuse: 47
Cal’s all, there’s no way out for you, is there? For reasons I really don’t understand Mare thinks that this indicates that Cal is confused, then she says, “‘Maybe things are different where you’re from.’”
Cal psychoanalyzes her briefly: “‘So you steal.’
I steal. ‘It’s the best I can do,’ falls from my lips.”
Italic Abuse: 48
Mare angsts briefly then mentions that Gisa has a job, then remembers: “No she doesn’t. Not anymore. Because of you.”
Italic Abuse: 49
“Cal watches me battle with the words, wondering whether or not to correct myself.” Weird sentence construction in relation to verbs here — makes it seem like Cal is watching the battle AND wondering whether to correct ‘myself’. This sentence might’ve worked better as ‘Cal watches me battle with the words, watches me wonder whether or not to correct myself.’
Anyway, Mare tries to keep from breaking down in front of a random stranger, but is certain that Cal can probably tell that she’s near tears. Cal asks “‘Were you at the Hall today?’ I think he already knows the answer. ‘The riots were terrible.’” Why are Mare’s thoughts being attached to Cal’s words? And why wasn’t there a new paragraph for Cal’s dialogue? Who edited the formatting of this?
Mare agrees that the riots were awful, and then this happens: “‘Did you…,’ [Cal] presses in the quietest, calmest way.[…] [I]t all comes spilling out. I couldn’t stop the words even if I wanted to.” Why is the ellipsis (ellipses?) followed by a comma? WHY? I WANT AN ANSWER. Also, how is asking ‘Did you’ pressing at all? Mare doesn’t know what he’s going to ask her. If he actually said what he meant to say — which we don’t know BECAUSE HE DIDN’T SAY IT — then it could be quietly, calmly pressing. ‘Did you’ here is not a complete question!
Mare tells everything without spilling the whole Scarlet Guard/smuggling herself and Kilorn from conscription thing. She declares herself a terrible person because of her stealing: “disappointing [her] mother, embarrassing [her] father, stealing from the people [she] call[s] [her] community.” I actually really do like this ‘pickpocket doesn’t like stealing’ subplot — a lot of fictional thieves are pretty enamoured with their occupations, and it’s often portrayed as oh-so-cool. But Mare sees that it hurts people, her community, and the book tells about how Mare is distrusted for it, how it distances her from her parents. (It’d be nice if the book showed how everyone distrusts Mare, but it at least shows that her parents disapprove instead of just saying so.) She’s good at pickpocketing but it’s not a skill she’s proud of, and even though she does it to survive, she still can’t shake the feeling that she’s really doing it because she’s a terrible person. Only terrible people steal, in her mind, and if Mare steals — well, then, she’s an awful person regardless of motive. Her skill at it also makes her feel like being a thief is all she’s good for, which now ties in pretty well with the whole ‘jealous of Gisa’ subplot, too, even if that was lackluster.
Mare reiterates that even though she hates stealing and stealing makes people hate her, it’s the best that she can do, then her voice gives out. This is some lovely characterization here.
Cal hands her another silver coin and Mare notes the king’s “flaming crown stamped into the metal.” So…the king’s crown…is on fire. Alrighty then. That sure seems plausible, stylish, and safe! As safe as a wildebeest stampede, that is. Even if it’s just a weird artistic rendition, it’s…a weird artistic rendition.
“I don’t want your pity, [Mare] feel[s] like screaming, but that would be foolish. The coin will buy what Gisa no longer can.”
Fooling Around: 10
Cal says he feels bad for her and that things shouldn’t be the way they are. Mare says her life isn’t the worst one out there and that Cal should save his pity.
Next scene opens with Cal leaving Mare at the edge of the Stilts because “[s]omething about the mud and shadows makes Cal uncomfortable, and he disappears before I get a chance to look back and thank the strange servant.”
Mare’s house is quiet and dark, but she’s still scared. She remembers the morning, which seems like long ago now, then Pappy Mare says that Mare shouldn’t worry her mother by running out.
Mare and I are both surprised by his appearance — Mare explains he hasn’t been on the ground for a long time. Mare says, “‘Dad? What are you doing? How did you –?’ But he jabs a thumb over his shoulder, to the pulley rig dangling from the house. For the first time, he used it.”
Pappy Mare explains that the power went out and so he’s checking it out. He wheels himself to the electricity box, wheezing, and this makes Mare think of Gisa’s hand and stolen future. How is Gisa doing? I want to see her. Anyway, Mare then asks why Pappy Mare doesn’t just use the ’lec papers she gets him. You know why, Mare. Also, the way she says it seems like exasperation, so it seems as if he NEVER uses them…which begs the question of why she doesn’t just trade them/sell them for food instead, which Momma Mare doesn’t refuse despite her disapproval. Are the ’lec papers just moldering uselessly while Mare whines about it and Pappy Mare ignores them? Or are they only used when Mare uses them?
Also, I haven’t mentioned this before, but “’lec papers” is not a good name. It’s just ugly. Why are so many of the names, from people names to names of things, ugly or tacky or a mixture of both??? Why?
Pappy Mare ignores her because he wants me to dislike him more than I do and feeds a ration into the box. Nothing happens; the box is “[b]roken.”
Italic Abuse: 50
Pappy Mare says it’s no use and they both watch the box, disappointed and thinking of Gisa. Pappy Mare hits the box “like hitting the damn thing can suddenly bring light and warmth and hope back to us” well, it can bring light, but I digress. Pappy Mare radiates anger, “[n]ot at [Mare] or Gisa but the world. Long ago he called us ants, Red ants burning in the light of a Silver sun. […] We did not evolve like them, with powers and strengths beyond our limited imaginations. We stayed the same, stagnant in our own bodies. The world changed around us and we stayed the same.”
Italic Abuse: 51
What were the Silvers adapting to that they gained literal superpowers??? (And why the silver blood?) Also, if the Reds didn’t adapt to this new threat or whatever it is, how are they still alive? Things that don’t evolve to their new environment DIE. Or they move to a more amicable environment.
Mare gets pissed too and touches the box. “I lose myself in trying to find the electricity, to bring it back […] Something sharp meets my fingertips, making my body jolt. […] Above us, the porch hums to life.”
Is the special power mentioned in the summary electricity? It’d explain how the nymph died last chapter, what with Mare seeing sparks and all…
Props for foreshadowing, though, if that’s the case.
Pappy Mare and Mare head up, agreeing that there will be “‘[n]o more running.’” Mare helps Pappy Mare out of the harness and notes that Momma Mare will be pleased that Pappy Mare’s getting out more.
But Pappy Mare gives her a sharp look and grabs her hand. His hands are callused, “like he just returned from the front lines. The war never leaves.”
Italic Abuse: 52
Yet he has no PTSD nor nightmares nor hatred of war rations-food such as beans nor a fear of loud noises. I guess the only scars this war leaves are physical. That’s totally realistic. Anyway, Pappy Mare says that Mare shouldn’t tell her mom, because it’ll make Momma Mare think that this is the first step towards Pappy Mare going back to how he was before his time as a soldier. It seems like kind of a jerk move to me that Pappy Mare’s doing this, but I do understand the sentiment — it’s the same point that Kilorn made a few chapters ago, that one shouldn’t give people false hope if it can be helped. Good thematic cohesion here.
Mare also understands, “All too well, Dad.”
Italic Abuse: 53
Pappy Mare wishes things were different, and Mare agrees. Then they’re officially entering the house and Mare describes more of Gisa’s sleep habits: normally Gisa “sleeps in a ball, curled up under a thin blanket.” But the Stilts is supposed to be this very warm place, right? And it’s summertime. Both the action of being curled into a ball and using a blanket kinda preserve heat. Anyway, now Gisa’s sleeping restlessly, but she keeps her arm still. Poor kid. It’s really insult upon injury for her — her hand’s broken and paining her and it means that she can no longer provide for her family.
Mare wants to make up for it but doesn’t know how. Instead she gets Shade’s letter from the correspondence box because “[h]is jokes, his words, his voice trapped in the page always soothe me.” His voice is trapped? That word choice lends a weird dark tone to what should’ve been a simple description.
Mare doesn’t get very far in reading before she sees the “Red as the dawn…” line in the letter, same words Farley used in the broadcast. The next sentence has the line “see the sun rise stronger” and Mare remembers Farley’s entire message: “Rise, red as the dawn.”
Mare knows now that Shade knew about the Scarlet Guard weeks before the bombing of today, that he tried to tell the Barrows. “Why?” Mare asks.
Italic Abuse: 54
And the chapter ends on this line: “Because he’s one of them.”
Italic Abuse: 55
ITALIC ABUSE: 55
FOOLING AROUND: 10
MARE, THE SUPER RARE: 7