Last time, Mare becomes a princess and also we learn her full name, Mary Mary The BitterTM ‘Mare Molly Barrow’. Also, I suspect the setting up of two love triangles. This time, “Lady Mareena Titanos” is Mare’s new title and she is repeating it to herself so she’ll remember.
Three Red maids are dressing her up, doing her makeup, etc., and they’re silent. Mare remembers the first rule of maidhood in this place: “Say nothing.”
It takes a while to make Mare “suitable”, but eventually they get to the makeup, which is a thick white paste. It hides the natural flush of Mare’s cheeks, as though the blood underneath is silver. “I look Silver. I look beautiful. And I hate it.”
Mare reflects on the craziness of the royals’ plan, telling herself that “[n]o Silver in their right mind would marry you, let alone a prince of Norta.” Mare, it’s not a matter of ‘would’ or choice. Maven doesn’t want to marry you, as you saw in the previous chapter. His parents are making him fit their stupid, stupid plan. “Not to calm rebellion, not to hide your identity, not for anything.
Then why do this?”
A question I ask myself every time this plan comes up.
The maids manage to get Mare into a dress, which makes her feel like a corpse getting prettied up for a funeral. She doesn’t think that the metaphor is too far off because she realizes something I didn’t last chapter: “Red girls do not marry Silver princes. […]Something will happen, an accident maybe. A lie will raise me up, and one day another lie will bring me down.” This is a good point, but it also makes me think that the royals are even stupider than I thought. Doing this in the first place is hasty and glaringly obvious; to kill her would just be more suspicious. I repeat: just how stupid do they think the High Houses are? And the country, for that matter?
Her dress is purple and silver, the colours of the Titanos house. A maid reaches for Mare’s earrings but Mare snaps at her and all of the maids freeze. Mare’s on the verge of apologizing before remembering her new role as Silver and instead aims for regal dismissiveness.
Then Cal appears! He compliments Mare and she predictably blushes, then he dismisses the maids from the room and they leave “like mice fleeing from a cat.”
This simile will be important in a few paragraphs.
Anyway, Mare says the Cal shouldn’t be in her room, and also is quietly resentful because this mess is kind of Cal’s fault even if his initial intentions were good. Cal starts to advance toward her and Mare steps back, which tells you something.
But Cal stops walking, saying he wants to apologize for the situation now that there’s no audience. (Wait, what about the omnipresent cameras?) He uses her original name but Mare corrects him, even though Mareena “even tastes wrong.” Cal says that Mare’s a suitable nickname and Mare retorts that nothing about her is “suitable”.
Then Cal begins showing signs of missing his old name, Creepy Guy (also, see above simile) as “Cal’s eyes rake over [Mare][…]”. Predictably, Mare’s getting all blushy whereas I’m getting creeped out. How many times are you going to stare at and assess Mare, Cal? It’s not cute.
He finally takes a step back, thank god, and asks how Mare found Lucas. Mare downplays how much she likes him, which is intelligent because she worries if she reveals Lucas’ gentleness (…‘an absence of hitting’ ≠ gentleness) then the queen will take him away. Cal says that Lucas is a good guy, that his family thinks this goodness is weakness, and that he (Cal) will make sure Lucas serves Mare well.
“How thoughtful. He’s given me a kind jailer.”
Italic Abuse: 120
“But I bite my tongue. It won’t do any good to snap at his mercy.” Right, because that totally kept you from asking Lucas if bitchiness was one of his innate qualities. Mare thanks Cal instead, calling him by title, and he smirks and says “‘You know my name is Cal.”
Mare immediately turns the teasing to a more serious topic — attagirl — by reminding Cal that he knows hers, too, and where she’s from. She insists that Cal take care of “[her] family” —
Italic Abuse: 121
— and Cal agrees, again invading her personal space (“[h]e takes a step toward me, closing the gap between us”) because love interest. He apologizes again about the situation and Mare remembers the words as the ones spoken by Cal before, when he caught her trying to escape. She grows more resentful, asking Cal if he’s also sorry for keeping her from escaping, but Cal easily deflects it: in the unlikely event that Mare had escaped all the other security measures, “‘the queen would tear the world apart looking for the little lightning girl.’”’
In agreement with me, Mare says he shouldn’t call her that because it’s condescending and also because it’s what Cal’s mother calls her. Cal corrects her: the queen is Maven’s mother, not his own. He’s pretty bitter about this and Mare doesn’t press the issue, instead just saying “‘Oh[.]’” The sound echoes and Mare looks around the room, which is palatial and pretty and shows the changing light. It’s almost nighttime, almost the beginning of Mare’s new life, and she says “‘I woke up this morning as one person[…]and now I’m supposed to be someone else entirely.’”
Cal says that Mare can do it, then he destroys the genuine encouraging niceness of the line by being creepy and taking another step toward her because personal space is for people without love interests evidently. But it’s not just creepy, it’s inconsistent: earlier the narration said Cal “clos[ed] the gap between [them]” but somehow he’s still stepping toward her? What, is he stomping on her toes? That’s charming.
Mare asks how Cal can know this and Cal says it’s really a matter of necessity, that “‘People who are not useful, people who make mistakes, they can be removed. You can be removed.’
And I will be. Someday.”
Italic Abuse: 122
Mare asks if that means that the moment she messes up, she’s dead, and Cal says nothing, which confirms it. This is being treated as a big deal, but the queen said this to Mare’s face just last chapter, so…
Anyway. Mare pulls the belt at her waist tight, thinking that if she were dreaming, the action would wake her. Obviously it’s not a dream: “This is really happening.”
Italic Abuse: 123
She still protests to Cal: “‘What about me? About’ — I hold out my hands, glaring at the infernal things — ‘this?’”
‘Infernal’? ‘Infernal’? ‘INFERNAL’???
Fooling Around: 13
Cal, smiling, says Mare’ll get the hang of it. He shows off a bracelet thingy on his wrist that seems to help him regulate his fire, and Mare remembers how dangerous he is as an arsonist burner. But the flame vanishes, “leaving only Cal’s encouraging smile and the humming of cameras hidden somewhere, watching over everything.”
So much for Cal’s apology being without an audience. Cal, you’ve lived here how long again?
Next scene opens with Mare and her posse of guards. She is reminded of her new position, her stupid betrothal, and the fact that it’s all a lie. She talks once again of Lucas’ niceness and juxtaposes him with the other, sterner guards. Again she remembers her situation: “If I fall, if I even slip, I will die. And others will die for my failure.”
Italic Abuse: 124
So she goes over the story of life that the queen gave her, which sickens her, the denial of her past, the ignoring of her family. She follows the guards through the maze of the upper levels of the palace and gives a pretty description of the view. Lucas points out that the last two floors of the palace are royal apartments and that they have to take an elevator to the ballroom. He opens the door with his powers and the group climbs in. Mare, it seems, is a bit claustrophobic judging from her description of the elevator of “a giant metal coffin.” I like this. It’s a fear that occurs naturally from her backstory — open spaces are best for her, because she can’t get caught as easily if she can run.
The elevator drops quickly but Lucas slows it when he notices Mare’s discomfort. They arrive safely and Mare breathes a sigh of relief. She notes that they’re in the same hall of mirrors that were broken this morning but that the mirrors are already tidied up, as if it hadn’t happened.
Elara appears. “Now she wears black and red and silver, her husband’s colours. With her blond hair and pale skin, she looks downright ghoulish” there’s never a bad moment to bash blondes in YA! Also note the ‘beauty is goodness’ thread: Mare has been prettied up, and even though she hates it, she’s a still a good person. Elara isn’t pretty and so is bad.
Which is just shallow. What makes Elara bad is her mind-controlling tendencies, which she demonstrates as she drags Mare down the corridor, further elaborating on Mare’s new life story: her dad was an oblivion, her mom a storm, and that combination gave Mare her lightning.
Mare asks Elara what she really wants with her (Mare) and Elara laughs at her and ignores the question, instead admonishing her to remember her new life story, remember that “You are now Red in the head, Silver in the heart.”
Mare shivers. Elara continues with the ending line of the chapter: “From now until the end of your days, you must lie. Your life depends on it, little lightning girl.”
This chapter has been really repetitive and also I hate that title and how obviously the book wants to make it a thing.
ITALIC ABUSE: 124
FOOLING AROUND: 13
MARE, THE SUPER RARE: 13