We return to our Monday readings of fiction with a current focus on female authors. Today, we continue Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey. To catch up or review, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.
Bella helps Sebastian run a test to see if they possess an affinity with each other. If they do, it would indicate that the chances of Bella turning into a werewolf are very likely. However, the results end up inconclusive. They have some affinity, but the squares of gauze, each bearing a drop of their blood, don’t react as Sebastian expects. It’s the last straw for Bella’s repressed emotions, and she lashes out at Sebastian in fury, pain, and fear.
Reader Comments: The romantic in me really hopes that affinity has something to do with an eventual relationship between them. Though, I feel sorry for Sebastian. He really didn’t deserve to get blown up at. Yet, I also understand that Bella’s nerves are worn to the quick.
Writer Comments: When you have your characters state that the results of something will either be one way or another, it adds a bit of realism and the unexpected when they never turn out quite how anyone expects. Lackey certainly employs this with Sebastian’s test.
Bella storms off and finds herself in a large, nearly empty room. Sapphire arranges for the musician invisibles to play for her, and soon thereafter, other invisibles don clothes and dance with Bella. The fun of it all comforts her and dissipates her foul mood, enough so that by supper, she’s able to face Sebastian without yelling. Sebastian, in his turn, agrees to be more upfront about keeping Bella informed on any progress or lack thereof regarding her potential werewolf state.
Reader Comments: Unless they were compelled by magic, I’m willing to bet that, at this point, the invisibles would side with Bella even over Sebastian.
Writer Comments: Here is a great example of incorporating elements that existed in the opening of the book and using them to further the plot and relationships of the characters. The Wool Guild ball at first seem somewhat innocuous, yet without it, we would never believe that the invisibles playing and dancing for Bella could be so important. We would never understand how music and dancing affect her. Also, Lackey uses this to tighten the bonds of loyalty the invisibles feel for Bella. At least, that’s what I assume she intends here.
A few days before the full moon, Granny finally comes to see Bella. In a very brief, private exchange, she informs Bella that she and Godmother Elena believe Sebastian is suffering under a curse by an individual who saved up their magic for a long time and either plotted vengeance or gain. It’s now Bella’s job to draw out information about Sebastian’s past to see if there are clues that might reveal the identity of the mysterious magician. Of course, Bella can’t let Sebastian know what she’s doing in the event the magician has a way of keeping tabs on Sebastian and the goings on at Redbuck Manor.
Reader Comments: It’s nice to see that Bella has such an ally in Granny. I suspect now that some of the invisibles, perhaps the ones that far surpass the number Sebastian summoned, are actually working for the mysterious magician who cursed him. That would allow whoever it is the ability to spy on Sebastian and anyone else in the manor.
Writer Comments: If my theory about the invisibles is correct, and even if it’s not, this is a good example of weaving in lots of elements that support the plot. So often, things that seem only passing become vital when the ultimate plot is revealed. This can be more invisibles than expected, a dance at a guild ball, or any number of other things. A skilled writer know how to sneak these in so they feel natural.
Bella consults her mirror for advice from Godmother Elena, but the woman is unavailable. However, she has a message for Bella suggesting Bella cultivate a friendship with Eric, who might also have clues about the mysterious magician. Reluctantly, Bella agrees, and by giving Eric a gift of medicines she made and offering to help him prepare for the full moon, Bella secures some level of cooperation and cordiality between them.
Reader Comments: Ugh, if the villain isn’t Eric, then who could it possibly be? Much as Eric is behaving himself the past few chapters and even being nice, I still can’t banish the suspicion that everyone, including Godmother Elena, has gravely underestimated him. Then again, that could just be because my reader mind desires a person to identify as the bad guy, and I have no better ideas at the moment.
Writer Comments: At the end of this chapter, Lackey ramps up the tension with the mention that Bella and Eric are about to venture out into a situation that could turn ugly swiftly. Eric intends to come near a poacher that he expects will confront him violently. There’s little more that can get the heart racing in worry than the threat of death to a character.
Thank you for joining me for this reading of Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey. Join me Wednesday and Friday for more journeys into the speculative and life and again next Monday to find out what sort of trouble Bella will encounter on her outing with Eric after the poacher he expects to cause trouble.