tamino - the first disciple

May 03, 2022


Tamino releases new music, you turn it the fuck up.

april

May 01, 2022

Things I enjoyed in the month of April:

Seanan McGuire's, Late Eclipses:

May laughed, "Don't mind Toby. She's my parent and original."
It takes more than an unexpected girlfriend to get me too flustered for Shakespeare. "Fairy, skip hence," I replied. "I have forsworn your bed and company."
"Haven't," she countered. "The rent would be awful, and you'd have no one to do the dishes."
"Fair enough."


With each book, I keep expecting things to level off, my adoration for these characters, this world, and the fucking mess they're all in to become less of a heady, breathless experience.
For the writing to dwindle, the twists to be less shocking, for Toby to finally say fuck it and take a year long nap because we're on book four and she's been pounded into bloody mush pretty much verse for verse, chapter by chapter.
She deserves a fucking nap.
(Preferably with the King of Cats wrapped round her, but I think I'm gonna have to wait a millennia for that. Sigh)
But this is Seanan McGuire, the author who never sleeps, and she apparently won't quit until I've been knocked unconscious from stress-induced palpitations.
The previous book in the series may have been unrelentingly terrifying, gleefully shimmering in its depravity, but Late Eclipses felt truly lethal.
People, the Fae, random passersby are always gunning for Toby; she's a PI, a Knight of the Fae court, and kind of a mouthy asshole.

She makes enemies damn easily, but there's never anything all that personal about those attacks. They're revenge from criminals she's stopped who want their pound of flesh, but it isn't a deep-seated loathing.
It's to be expected. It's payback.
But this? This was as personal as it gets.
Our first introduction to Toby was of her recounting her time spent imprisoned as a goldfish in the San Francisco Tea Garden - truly worse places to spend a decade long stint in fish jail, it's so fucking pretty; put there by her pseudo-uncle and his crazy bitch of a girlfriend, Oleander.
What originally seemed an act of I'm bigger, stronger, older than you, this is purely for my amusement, swim away little fishy, would appear to be more than the petty antics of a megalomaniac.
Not that we actually find out what that "more" is exactly in the book - goddammit, Seanan - but the pieces of why Toby perpetually has a target on her head are slowly starting to creep together.
One of those pieces being her former attacker, Oleander, an infamous villain in the Fae's history.
She's the monster under your bed, the poison in your cup, the voice in your head telling you to cut, slice, and hack.
She viciously sucks, basically, and her grudge against Toby is longstanding, venomous as ever, and growing by the minute.
And it's time for Oleander's final act.


"If it's Oleander―if I'm right―then she's also the one responsible for whatever's happening to Lily. She has to be stopped."
"Why would she attack the Lady of the Tea Gardens?"
"Lily kept Oleander from killing me once, and she's a nutcase. Does she need more of a motive than that?"
"I suppose not, especially since attacking that particular pair implicates you nicely. They're very . . . unique women. It would take an intimate knowledge of the both of them to accomplish something like this."
I stopped, suddenly wary. "What do you mean?"
[Tybalt] sighed. "Please don't treat me like a kitten. I know what Luna Torquill is, and I'll grant that Oleander has motive. Still, why would she risk coming back here? Being caught in this kingdom would mean her life."
"I don't know. People say she kills for money. Maybe she's here on a job and just having a little fun on the side."
I rubbed my forehead, longing for aspirin. "There's no one else who works with poisons the way she does and has a grudge against me."


Why? Again, we aren't given any true answers other than something's coming, something bigger and meaner than anything Toby's seen before, it's coming straight for her, and Oleander's the spark to ignite it all.


"You don't know even know how much you've lost, do you?"
"Fourteen years, a husband, an a daughter. I have a pretty good idea."
"Like that matters? Mortality ends. We did you a favour." Oleander's laugh tapered into a bubbling cough. "We should have killed you then."
"You tried."
"We almost succeeded. It was a game." She sighed. "A wonderful game. I wasn't ready to stop playing."
"Well, you just lost." I didn't feel sorry for her anymore. She'd admitted in kidnapping Raysel; not in so many words, but still an admission. Whatever she was getting, she'd earned it.
"The game is just beginning. I was only a piece on the board."


This book was maddeningly cryptic.
We're given half answers to everything, convoluted, incomplete riddles to dissect and infuriate, and... I wouldn't have it any other way.
There's always a turning point in a long running series, where the grand arc of the story starts to become apparent.
Without realising it you've been led there from the first page of the first book but it's done so stealthily by the author that those clues you've been drip-fed don't take on meaning until this revelatory moment.
The moment of oh shit, here we go, it's starting.
All series have one and Toby's oh shit moment was one of brutality, manipulation, loss, heartbreak, betrayal, and metamorphosis.
Which is far too fucking much for one human, let alone one changeling, to handle.
Toby's tough, seriously tough, as in I've-never-seen-an-Urban Fantasy-heroine-lose-this-amount-of-blood-and-survive tough, but this is the book that nearly broke her.
What's worse than being beaten? Being betrayed.
What's worse than being betrayed? Having that betrayal believed and supported.
What's worst of all? Not knowing if you'll survive to prove your innocence.
This is the Fae, they're immortal, ageless but there's a time limit on any thing or any one that goes against them, and Toby's clock is running short.
Which is why this book felt like it had the pacing of a gazelle on fairy steroids.
It's one punch in the head, slap in the face, knee to throat after another; if Toby wasn't running for her life, escaping imprisonment, or defying the odds to save somebody else, she was flat on her face sleeping for all of five minutes before the next catastrophe hit.
It was exhausting.
But wholly exhilarating.
And oddly comforting for such a chaotic story.
Why?
Because of Toby's people.
There's been a litter of them slowing amassing throughout the series, imprinting on her like ducklings, and sticking by her side even when it gets ugly, and that devotion for her was strikingly clear in Late Eclipses.
Even though the Fairy realm is turning against her, setting her up for a great fall, the people who know her, who've lived, loved, and fought beside her, they never stray, they never give up on her. For a character who at the start of the series had no one, was ashamed to return home, who couldn't return home, it's heartening to watch her family, the one she didn't realise she had, rally round her, rescue her for a change, and make sure that in the end, she's protected, supported, believed.


"Two accuse you, and you've already lied in your own defense. None will stand for you."
In a voice loud enough to rebound off the walls, Tybalt demanded, "How dare you?" I opened my eyes, turning as far as the Queen's commander allowed to see Tybalt striding forward. His shoulder were locked, showing how much effort he was putting into staying even that calm. "Call for her defense! Don't assume we won't appear!"



Maybe it's my gross, squishy heart but that kind of behaviour turns me into a marshmallow human, it makes me love those characters more.
But none more than Tybalt, Cait Sidhe, The King of Cats.
Funny Gifs : ian somerhalder GIF - VSGIF.com
(This is the perfect gif. PURRFECT! ... sorry)

The one who's totally in love with Toby but he won't tell her for some unknown reason so instead he'll take every opportunity to touch her, tease her, protect her, BUT WON'T OUTRIGHT FUCKING SAY HE WANTS HER!


Something touched the side of my face, too faint to be identified as anything but contact―kiss or slap, my iron-riddled body couldn't tell the difference. And then, quieter still: "Don't leave me again. Please.


I'm fine.
Totally fine.
Just a little shipping fatigue, that's all; Seanan McGuire's really teasing me with this one.
Setting up situations where my ship get cute together, end up kissing and then mutually reason it away as just for show, constantly saying stupid, adorable shit that makes my brain explode in the best fucking way possible!

She did it all, and I thought maybe this was the beginning of things, that Tybalt would stop playing with his Toby-food and admit he's a goner for her.
But nah, he's still being aloof and Toby's no fucking better and I'm in shipping hell.
Oh, and it gets worse, because these two, these bloody two aren't alone in their heart-eyed doofiness.
No, no no,  it's a fucking love triangle, and the third party of the triangle is currently winning.
And I don't even hate him! I don't! He's a very sweet princeling, but he's not the one I want.
I want fur, not sealskin ← that makes more sense if you've read the book.
And I know it'll happen eventually.
...
Because I googled it.
Phoenix launch comienzo GIF - Find on GIFER

People being me, I needed to know because my head was about to explode.
But even though McGuire teased me mercilessly with my potential OTP finally sailing and then not delivering, I was so fucking grateful for the amount of time we got to spend in Tybalt's presence.
By my reckoning, this is the most page-time he's received, the most interaction he's had with Toby, and that... oh, that's such good food. 


"October, are you awake?"
I considered lying, but cleared my throat and whispered, "Barely."
"We're going to take the Shadow Roads."
"What?" I opened my eyes, staring up at him. His face was only a foot away, but it was blurry and hard to focus on. "Tybalt, I can't―"
"You have to," he said gently, "There's no other way out of here."
"I'll suffocate." Not long before, I'd been waiting to die; now, I wanted to avoid it if I could. It's amazing how quickly things change.
"You won't. Not if you trust me and hold your breath. Can you do that?"
"I . . ." I realized that he'd try to take the overland route if I said I couldn't handle the Shadow Roads. Quentin and Connor couldn't move through the shadows without him, and all three would die or be imprisoned for the crime of trying to save me. I wasn't worth their lives; if they'd made it this far, iw wouldn't stop them from making it the rest of the way. "Do what you need to do."
He kissed my forehead, whispering, "Hold your breath."


I'm so well fed. 


"Tybalt?"
"Yes?"
"Are we safe now?"
"Fairly, yes." He sounded amused. I lifted my head to face him, and frowned at the undiluted relief in his eyes. Looking at him, you'd think save me was some sort of miracle. "The Queen's guard can't enter my Court without my consent."
"Good," I said, closing my eyes on the strange satisfaction in his expression. There was too much iron in my blood, and I was too tired. I couldn't cope. "Wake me when the world ends."
"Your wish is my command," he said.
I would normally have called him on that. I'm not normally exhausted and trying to shake off a bad case of iron poisoning after an unexpected run down the Shadow Roads. I went limp against his chest, trusting him to hold me up, and slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.


He basically Westley'd her.
The Princess Bride" is Coming To Broadway - Mix 106.5

That "little" pocket of my brain that's reserved solely for shipping purposes swelled to three times its capacity whilst reading this, and I don't see it deflating any time soon.
SO much so that I've had to stop my itchy little fingers from immediately moving on to the next in the series.
I've gotta make this stuff last and my TBR mountain is incessantly eyeballing me, judging me for my choices, shaming me for every new book that's entered my domain.
It's fair enough, and I think perhaps a break after this one is a good idea because, like I said before, this was not an easy story.
Toby lost some people, she discovered some unsettling things, she was tortured, put through hell and back, and in the end told it was just the beginning.

Which is all extremely vague but this is one of those tide is turning stories, and the events that come to pass within in it are so integral to the overall arc of the series that if I gave away details, they wouldn't just be details, they'd be great-big-massive-poke-you-in-the-eye spoilers.
And I'm very anti-spoiling.
If you wanna look it up yourself - like my weak ass did for my ship *bows* - then godspeed, happy hunting, but I'm not gonna be the one that slaps you in the face with information you aren't ready for.
Hence, the end of the review has come!
With a small addendum to simply say: I fucking love this series.
I love Toby, I love her friends (so glad May gets to stay), I love this world (gonna miss the Tea Gardens, though. Such great mental visuals), I love the Fae (even if they are massive assholes), I love the direction everything's going (What is she?!), and I absolutely will not be able to wait that long before I read the next one because I am a weak and feeble book addict, and there's no one who can stop me!
Thank you Milady McGuire for providing such delicious brainfood.
Hungry David Rose GIF by Schitt's Creek

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Nikki Hemady:

I know this is meant to be Mei or Satsuki's diary but my brain is retrofitting it to be Totoro's.
...
Because the idea of Totoro having a journal is the cutest fucking thing.
Everything You Need to Know About the Studio Ghibli Netflix Release -  GaijinPot

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Bridgerton season two:

I'm just happy sighing all over the place.
Have been since the teaser trailers started appearing and haven't stopped since finishing the last episode.
...
Pure, historical, bodice-ripping escapism.
I loved the first season, went absolutely bonkers for it, but I think the second might be better.
*pauses for potential lynching*
The chemistry was just off the frickin' charts and the story was, uh, less fucked up?
Sperm-jacking your husband's always a bit dodgy.
Bad Daphne, bad.
But having the hots for your sibling's potential future husband who you kinda can't stand but also desperately want to bone, and engaging in multiple very-almost-forfuck'ssakejustafewcentimetresmore kisses?
kate and anthony | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

That's what historical drama's for, right?
The eye-fucking?
And the...
I watch Bridgerton for the Plot. The Plot: : r/BridgertonNetflix

Uh...
Great Adaptations: Bridgerton and the Female Gaze (Updated) | by Elizabeth  Gilliland Rands | Mar, 2022 | Medium

Bless the female gaze.
Bless it hard.
...
Fanart time with Luz Tapia!:

Logically, I know everything's gonna work out fine with Penelope and Colin but oh, ohhhhhhh he's gonna get a nut-smash for that closing comment.
No one talks shit about my girl.
Apex | Apex Legends

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Gegyjiji:

Watercolour mundanity.
Season 4 Ron GIF by Parks and Recreation

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Felicia Chiao:

And a pidge rug:

There's no way for me to articulate how many things these make me feel.
The muted colours? For sure.
The minutiae? Definitely.
The emotion? Oh yeah.
The starkness? Yuss.
The fullness? Mmhmm.
The mundane surreality? *vigorous nodding*
It's just...
Everything GIF - 5SF Everything 5Second Films You Tube - Discover & Share  GIFs

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Tv / movie Rewatches:
Sense8

With every re-watch, I end up with a new favourite.
This season goes to Dani, you beautiful, fearsome, raucous bird, you:
Lito x Hernando x Daniela | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

And to my forever boys who love her:
lito x hernando x dani | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir


Shrill

The show aside, which is fucking brilliant, there's just something about the way Aidy Bryant talks.
Sporadically like an old school Hollywood starlet.
Katharine Hepburn trapped in her vocal chords.
I love it.


High Fidelity

Didn't even take a month before I rewatched it.
S'good.
S'really good.
Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly : isabclle: HIGH FIDELITY (2020-)


Whiplash

Eight years since I last watched this and it's still as fucked as ever.
Out-fucking-standing, but fucked.
whiplash gifs | WiffleGif
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Book truths:
Sarah Andersen

Esme Brett

Romantically Inclined Reviews

Anyone tells you otherwise, send them my way.
Image - 334893] | Adventure Time | Know Your Meme

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Sim Sim:

I love creeping on other people's sketchbooks.
Flicking Through My Sketch Book Looking Through My Sketchbook GIF -  Flicking Through My Sketch Book Looking Through My Sketchbook Let Me Go  Through My Sketch Book - Discover & Share GIFs

They're like fingerprints.
whisper of the heart gifs | WiffleGif

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Veronica Mars season 4:

It was so good to be back but wtf?
What the actual fuck?
I will never forgive.
I am a vengeful asshole, the universe will feel my wrath.
And a vicious stink eye.
Hulu on Twitter: "Thank you @VeronicaMars for my new favorite gif  https://t.co/oV83YHPzL7" / Twitter

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Angelica Fatourou:

I don't really know when flower tea became a thing (don't sass me, I know tea comes from flowers!), and personally, I just think it's gonna be a real pain in the ass to drink, but I'll never complain about the drawing studies everyone seems to be doing.
So fucking pretty.
Curious tea facts and rituals - Alluring Life of peTya

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Ex Libris:
Can you be in love with an inanimate object?
The answer is yes.
If it's a book stamp with your freaking name on it and you can finally fulfil your adolescent ambition to inscribe your name on everything.
(Sorry about the walls, Mum)

I've stamped so many books, already.
With no plans to stop until my entire collection is tagged as PROPERTY OF ME, DO NOT TOUCH, YOU WILL BE SMACKED WITH A HARDBACK.
...

Apparently the tiny terror tagger in me never went to sleep.
Hide your books.
I can't be held responsible for my actions.


Ps. This specific design is still available, but The BBdesign Company have plenty more and the owner is super helpful with any changes required in the chosen design.

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Michael Owens:

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Seanan McGuire's, Through This House (October Daye series):

"You're going to make us clean, aren't you?" asked Danny.
"And repair, and replace, and probably paint." I stood. "Now that we have the doors open, let's go beg the local nobles to lend us all their Hobs and Bannicks."
"I'll go get beer and pizza," said May.
"I'll drive her," said Danny.
Quentin sighed. "I'll get a mop."
"Good call," I said, and grinned before I started for the nearest exit. The bogies slipped out of the shadows, joining the pixies as they followed me all the way to the door, wings buzzing and legs tapping against the floor. Reclaiming Goldengreen was going to take a lot of work, and a lot of favors from the local hearth-fae community, but it was going to be worth it. Changelings and pixies have at least one thing in common: it's rare that we have places where we're safe. Goldengreen was an opportunity to change that.
With all the time I've spent feeling like I was on the outside, looking in, it was going to be nice to finally have a place I could say, with absolute conviction, was my home. The giant horror movie spiders, well . . .
Those were just a bonus.


I'm just gonna leave this little nugget here for anyone who's as invested in Toby's wellbeing as I am.
my girl - gif 3 - Film and TV Now

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Vhane Gabiola aka hara and Ghibli:

And these two:

I'm kind of obsessed with them.

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The Great:

There are simply no words.
I'm gonna let some gifs do the talking:
Sarah Rogers | Wiki | Marvel Amino
Blue Velvet - Tumblr Blog Gallery
Tumblr
The Great GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
catherine the great gifs | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
Huzzah The Great GIF - Huzzah The Great Nicholas Hoult - Discover & Share  GIFs

The idiot with the thighs is my favourite.
He's magnificent.

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The Wool Beasts:

If it's small and looks like it could've unfurled from the centre of a flower, I can pretty much guarantee that i'll be in love with it.
Thumbelina GIF - Find on GIFER

But not as much as this Baba Yaga house!:

I will not scream, I will not scream, I will not scream.
hellboy2019 | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

I will attempt to calm myself with this kickass dandelion deer fauxidermy, though:

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Starting a Home Lending Library Has Made Me a Better Friend by Cole Rush for Tor:

I love this idea but I'd have to be sedated to lend books out.
Or the lendees would be forced to swear on my limited edition Mort that no spines were to be broken (Mother, sister, you know what you did), no dog-earing of pages (I'm the only one who's allowed to do that, and only on paperbacks. But no special edition paperbacks! I'm not a complete animal), and absolutely no writing in the margins (I'm all for finding marginalia in other people's books but you fuckers leave my tree children alone).
I'm a fucking lunatic but these are the rules.
Break them and I break your face.
NEW GIRL ◊ DT - ELEVEN - Wattpad

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Emily Thomas:

You ever look at a certain style of illustration and immediately think storybook.
And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

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Stranger Things season four trailer:

Billy?
That's totally Billy.
With a side of Eddie the Head but Billy all the same?
Right?
Am I crazy?!
Dacre Montgomery uploaded by Perrieeele on We Heart It

Ps. I don't know what's up with the dude wailing on a guitar in the middle of some apocalyptic shit à la Doof Warrior but I. Am. Down. For. It.
Let's break down the latest 'Stranger Things 4' trailer • AIPT

Pps.
Excited Gif 0860 - PNGDir | PNG Image Directory

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titsay and tenderness:

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Nimona:

...
2023!
...
Wrap Up | Graphic Novels and Comics — reading women

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Little Women:

Apparently, even bad adaptations of the March sisters' seasonal bildungsroman are still very watchable for me.
Little Women

You could perform it with snails and I'd still cry at certain events, revel in moments I've catalogued inside my brain and labelled: perfect, continue to not buy the relationship between Laurie and Amy because wtf man, where'd that come from?
(Maybe it's believable in the book but I've always found it kinda... icky)
It doesn't seem to matter how you do it, I will always, always love this story.
But nothing trumps Winoni.
Winoni forever.
little women | GIF | PrimoGIF
spiderliliez | Winona Ryder (as Jo March) Christian Bale (as...
spiderliliez | Winona Ryder (as Jo March) Christian Bale (as...

Look at her dumb, perfect face.

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Holly Chisholm of Just Peachy Comic:

I need a Mental Health Fairy so fucking badly.
Especially for DNFing books.
Why. Won't. My. Brain. Let. Me. Stop?!
Funny Gifs : angry GIF - VSGIF.com

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that...

I am ruined.
GIF fictional boyfriend woody allen - animated GIF on GIFER

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The Last Unicorn reimagined by Bev Johnson:

Fun fact: The animation company, Topcraft, that created this cult animated adaption went on to form Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki.
...
The style of it makes so much sense now, doesn't it?
The Last Unicorn 🦄 (1982 Film) (SmallMovieReviews) | Cartoon Amino

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Killing Eve final season:

...
Hey, do you have that gif of Villanelle giving...
Why Killing Eve star Jodie Comer deserves a Golden Globe (in 5 GIFs) |  EW.com
64 Thoughts I Had Watching Killing Eve 404, From “A WRENCH?!” To “I'm Going  To Commit A Murder”

Knew it was coming but Jesus bloody Christ, it still fucking sucked.
Murder-wives deserved so much better.
So much better.


Tiny fanart:
Maddie Carreiro

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Karl James Mountford's Timberdark cover:

I already wanted to read this series but I'd buy it alone for this cover.
KJM destroys my neural receptors with his endless supply of stunning imagery.
How is he doing this?!
YARN | He's using some sort of brain magic! | Gravity Falls (2012) - S01E06  Animation | Video gifs by quotes | e45f7037 | 紗

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Tessa Gratton's, Strange Grace:

In a valley beyond the forest, a bonfire burns on hill: an orange beacon to oppose the silver moon, its flames flick and tremble like a pulse. It is the heart of the valley now, surrounded by weary folk who keep vigil until dawn. Men and woman and children, too: They hold hands, they wander in sunwise circles, they pray, and they whisper the names of all the saints to come before this boy. Bran Argall. Alun Crewe. Powell Ellis. John Heir. Col Sayer. Ian Pugh. Marc Argall. Mac Priddy. Stefan Argall. Marc Howell. John Couch. Tom Ellis. Trevor Pugh. Yale Sayer. Arthur Bowen. Owen Heir. Bran Upjohn. Evan Priddy. Griffin Sayer. Powell Parry. Taffy Sayer. Rhun Ellis. Ny Howell. Rhys Jones. Carey Morgan. And now this boy's name, again and again and again, an invocation: Baeddan Sayer. Baeddan Sayer. Baeddan Sayer.
Because of him, and all the saints before him, no illness plagues the valley; the sun and rain share the sky in perfect consideration for each other and for the growing land; death comes peacefully in old age; childbirth is only as dangerous and hard as pulling teeth, but no one has to pull teeth here. They made this bargain with the devil: Every second years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces. 


There are stories full of beauty that you absorb, acknowledge, and ultimately move on.
And there are stories so misshapen in their beauty that you can't move past them, can't look away, can't untether yourself.
Worst and best of all, you don't want to.
Strange Grace is one of those stories.
A twisting, beckoning tale of ritual, tradition, deceit, and cruel magic; it lures you in, opens its stygian maw, and bites down.
Pins you in place and rends you open with every accursed word.
From its opening pages, it accusingly reveals its origins:

A deal brokered with the devil, an old god of the forest demanding sacrifice; a boy every seven years to be hunted inside the forest by the devil and his crooked flock, and if caught, spill his blood and enrich the land in exchange for no sickness, quick healing, good crops, a life of safety and health.
One for the many.

And on the same night, on every seventh year, a boy, a saint, is anointed, celebrated, loved and sent to his shrouded demise in a forest of uncanny creatures and a devil in need of nourishment.


The moon spreads over the sky, stars tilting like a slow-spinning skirt. It arcs from east to we, counting the hours. The people fee their bonfire.
Wind churns the black leaves of the forest. It hisses and whispers in the way of all forests, until a shriek breaks itself free. This is hours past midnight, the worst time, and the scream peels up the spine of ever adult and freezes the blood of the children. They move nearer their fire, their prayers lifting stronger, edged with desperation.
Another scream, inhuman, and another.
Followed by cold laughter trembling up from the roots of the forest, frosting the dry winter grass.

...

Branches scrape his cheek, hungry for his blood. Eyes wide, the boy pushes harder, shoving at the sharp, dry leaves, stomping through undergrowth and deadfall. The trees are an old-growth tangle of trip wire, a web of limbs and fingers and claws to snare him.
Behind the boy, the devil clicks his teeth.


It's cruel and honourable and a heinous act of self-preservation.
But every year the denizens of Three Graces perform their ritual and sacrifice one of their own to maintain their way of life.
This year, the year we're privy to, is no different, except it's the wrong one, four too early, and something has upset the bargain.
A sick horse, blighted crops, a baby in distress.
These things don't happen in a town blessed by the devil, and the only thing to do is send yet another boy into the forest.

Their best boy.
Their saint.
Their saviour.
Another life cut short.
Or maybe not.
Or maybe not just one.


The wind inside the forest whispers, Grace, Grace, Grace [...] and the tiny monsters chatter it, goblins and bobbing spirits, sharp-toothed birds and bone boys all revel in the sound of the name.
The devil bides his time, stretching his jaw in a massive, lazy yawn, crouched at the base of the Bone Tree. He will go after them soon.
Them. It is an odd thing, but he smells more than a saint and the forest is alive with that old name.
[...]
Grace, Grace, Grace.



That's all the information I'm really willing to give concerning the bones of the story.
The merry chase Tessa Gratton leads you on to reach the ugly truth of her cursed town isn't one that should be tampered with by revealing its secrets.
Those moments of revelation and betrayal need to be experienced first hand because they change everything.
And I won't be the one to spoil that for anyone.
What I offer in exchange is how this story made me feel, how it burrowed inside and made a jagged, awkward nest in the most barren corners of me.
The visceral way I both felt and saw the story, the town, its people and their forest, as if I'd been there before.
I knew its scent, the taste in the air, the beseeching coldness creeping from the forest.
If I reached out my fingers, I could feel the parchment scratch of equinoctial leaves brushing against them.
The sharp canines of tiny bird-women nipping at my skin, demanding a taste.
The swirling scent of seasonal decay in the air, drying herbs strung from kitchen ceilings, and the devil's furred flank striding through the forest with the taste of fresh sacrifice on his tongue.
I knew it all, recognised it from somewhere primaeval and undeniable.
It ricocheted through me with tiny, painful shocks of know me, know me, know me.
An impossible feat for a place that doesn't exist but I did recognise it, I did, I did, I did, because I've felt it every time I've walked inside a gathering of trees.
Placed skin upon bark and felt how new I am and how ancient they are.
Felt eyes at my back, glancing looks over both shoulders to check for whatever might be lurking in the shadows, friend or foe.


A deer picks its careful way over the deadfall, sides heaving. Tiny antlers for off its skull, catching the first hints of dawn light.
Blood drips from its mouth, from unnaturally sharp teeth cutting out at terrible angles through its face. Vines wrap its delicate legs, and when it takes one more careful step, Mair can see talons―not tiny hooves.
It raises its head and looks straight at her with eyes the purple of crystal.
She steps forward, awed and excited.
The creature bellows, a low bleat of fury and pain, and charges.


Maybe the devil himself.

I could imagine it, I really could.
That somewhere in every forest is a creature birthed from nature's darkest, basest undergrowth, hungry and alone, and waiting for someone to play with.
The sudden uptick in the beats of your heart when the realisation hits that you're alone, somewhere ancient, inside a sylvan cathedral of sorts and the urge to run becomes an ever-pressing urgency because it's there, it's coming, whatever it may be.
The mythos of nature, specifically trees, is enough alone to support the theory of there being more in the forest than the mortal eye can see.
Rowan to ward off witches.
The goddess Hecate favoured the Yew to liberate souls after death.
Holy Oak for protection and healing.
Elder trees were said to be bad luck and harbour a witch within.
Even something as simple as knocking on wood is an ancient plea to tree spirits for help.
#the company of wolves from Black and white gifs

The coupling of nature and the supernatural is an ancient bond that's been passed down through the generations, almost subconsciously.
When I read the first few pages of Strange Grace and discovered the presence of the forest devil, my mind instinctively jumped to Cernunnos, the antlered Celtic god of wild places and beasts, life, death, and regeneration.
As if I knew this creature without having been told.
#black spot from Stuff and Things

It's mythology fits near perfectly with Gratton's less than benevolent forest devil:

- Both capable of love and depravity, often binding the two together
- Givers of life but at a deathly price
- Beloved and feared by their twisted flock in equal measure
- Part man, part Cervidae, seasonally shedding their skin to grow anew
- Their power stems from the women who worship them
- Nature is their mistress, mother, and child

The similarities are glaring and in all honestly, exciting.
The power of gods can often be found not in their preternatural gifts but in their allure.
The beginning of Three Graces' bargain with devil stemmed from love.


The devil is an old god of the forest, her mother would whisper when she told the story only to Mairwen. That was the first line of the Grace witches' private version. He was bold and powerful, beautiful and dangerous, but he loved the first Grace witch, and it was from that love the bargain blossomed. This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.


He promised prosperity but demanded her life in exchange.
There's something of the patriarchy in there but isn't there always?
A powerful man using a woman up to inflate his potency.
But was it solely a trick, or was it love?
Or was it both?
Did this god of the forest seduce a women to fulfil his needs or did he love her and use her?
Does that make it worse or better? Does it matter?
The bargain was struck, a boy sacrificed septennially, the village continuing on and not truly accepting the heinous crime they're committing because it's bundled under the title of Faith.
Because the boy volunteers. Because he believes in his sacrifice. Because it's the way of things.
But if you didn't know any better, if you were raised that way and had no outside influence to tell you otherwise, wouldn't you have unwavering faith, too?


Arthur clutches himself. "How can you of it? How can you just let this happen to Rhun?"
The older woman stares down her nose at him. "This is a better way than the way of the outside world."
"How?" Arthur hears the ache in his own voice, the pitch of pleading.
Nona sighs hard enough to blow down a straw house. "In the rest of the world, Arthur, bad things take you by surprise. They knock down your door when you're cooking dinner, they known down your door when you're sleeping, or sometimes they don't even knock at all. You're worried about it all the time. If I raised my sons out there, this danger might have found Rhun years ago, or if he survived this long, it might find him any day in his future. But here in Three Graces, we throw the door open wide and say, 'Today is the day, trouble. Your only chance.'" She takes Arthur's wan face in her warm hands. "The dread today is hard, but the relief will be so much finer. I prefer to keep the devil on a schedule."


It's a demanding question throughout the story because, as an observer, I know it's wrong, but it takes the bargain failing for the people of Three Graces to finally question it.
The most questioning of all being Mairwen, the sole witch of the three protagonists.

Immediately, you can tell she's something more than the village she resides in: voraciously curious, more tempted by the forest than fearful of it, almost too akin with nature to be simply a witch.
And when the first horse gets sick, when a baby is in distress, she knows instinctively that something isn't right, and change is nipping at their heels.
The Green Knight GIF by A24

From there on the story starts to unravel, the faith these people put so strongly in their devil and their saint begins to waver and in the end becomes something else entirely.
Especially after their night of sacrifice bears improbable fruit.
...
Again, being infuriatingly vague, but I just can't tell you more.
And there's so much more.
I couldn't stop my brain from inundating me with a flickering slideshow of images from various cult sources to shape the landscape of Strange Grace into being.
From the muted sharpness of Sleepy Hollow:
#filmedit from bewitched / semi-hiatus

To the seductive, fairy tale corruption of The Company of Wolves:
#Horroredit from CLASSICHORRORBLOG

The pagan dealmaking in The VVitch:

Annihilation's floral mutations, Pan's Labyrinth's fae, The Ritual's creature, The Village's mystery, The Green Knight's everything.

And many, many more.
The influences are legion within this story, but they don't overpower it.
The richness of Gratton's storytelling, world-building, and theurgic lore is entirely her own and it blissfully overwhelms the senses.
If I wasn't so weighed down by reality, I could believe this story to be true; gnarled creatures, elemental magic, and all.
And within this possible impossible world is a love story.
A polyamorous love story.
Between a witch, a saint, and a boy who was once a girl.


Mairwen strokes a finger down his crooked nose. "Survive, and I'll marry Arthur to trap him here, and you can live with us, because I'm a witch and you're a saint and we can do whatever we want, and then you can spend the rest of your life seducing him. We'll fight all the time, but we'll be happy."
A laugh bubbles up Rhun's throat, popping light and merry. "And we'll never know who fathers your children, tying us all together even more."
"Oh, we'll know," Mairwen sneers. "Yours won't cause me any pain at all, and Arthur will only have daughters with hearts so hot they burn me the entire time they're cooking."
Rhun kisses her, slowly and shallowly, then kisses her nose and eyelids. "You should do that if I don't survive too."


I'll be honest, my head nearly exploded from shock when the dynamic between the three was revealed, especially because it appeared in a YA novel.
Normally, infuriatingly, the only relationship we're offered when three people are romantically inclined is the dreaded love triangle.
Angst, choices, and more angst.
...
Yuck.
If I could ban this trope, I would.
(Unless it's the magical two-person triangle. The best triangle. Think You've Got MailLois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman)
The only time I allow it is when one leg of the triangle turns out to be a giant douche-nozzle and can be dismissed easily.
(*cough* Tamlin the Tool *cough*)
But otherwise? Cursed trope. DNR. Go the fuck away.
And luckily, and surprisingly, Gratton bypassed it entirely and gave us a love story that was uncertain, awkward, and full of anguish but ultimately the one thing that held true when everything else fell apart.
It was sweet but authentic, powerful but not domineering, tumultuous and tender.
I loved every damned second but I loved what it represented more:

Polyamory.
Gender essentialism.
Bisexuality.
Internalised homophobia.

These aren't things you typically see in YA, even LGBTQIA2S+ YA, and I was beyond happy to see it.
But more than that, I was grateful that they weren't used as a way to make the throuple in question miserable.
I am not here for misery porn at the expense of other people.
I'm here for a three individuals, hopelessly in love, and dealing with some shit whilst fighting off a starving devil.
And that's exactly what Gratton gave me.
And as per usual, not being an author myself, I'm struggling to truly convey the true feeling this story exudes.
How it has the same haunting weight to it as classic folktales such as The Legend of Sleepy HollowTam O 'ShanterThe Erl-King, and The Wild Hunt.
How it felt effortlessly known before a single word was read.
How I felt tied to it, bound to the devil's sacrificial tree at the heart of the forest, keening and waiting for its next sacrifice.
How I never wanted to leave, how I wanted to join the devil's merry rabble and spin and howl and rend.
How Strange Grace is a tale to be told by firelight, in the decaying shades of autumn, with devil's lurking at the periphery.
Timeless.
Haunting.
Beautiful.
#taylor swift from Taylor Swift

.............................................

Petra Frankova:

So pretty...
lion - Album on Imgur

.............................................

Mercy Thompson... in 3D?:

It's only being optioned right now, with an eighteen month time limit for Amazon to get shit done, but still...

Let the fan-casting and ultimate actor-choice letdown commence!
Beastars Screaming GIF - Beastars Screaming Internally - Discover & Share  GIFs | Anime shows, Anime, Manga anime

.............................................

Turning Red:

Fuck the corporation that funded this but bless the animators, screenwriters, voice actors, et al. who created it.
I may have had a little cry.
...
Shut up.
Turningred GIF - Turningred - Discover & Share GIFs

Fanart:
Haven

Alexa Cordeiro

Luz Tapia

Sarah aka. sawah_draws

.............................................

kellkyy:

Get you a flower that can do both.

.............................................

Spider-Man: No Way Home:

There's a stupid amount to say about how much I enjoyed this but I'm too obsessed with how fucking adorable [spoiler]Andrew Garfield[spoiler] was.
Special little doof.
I could eat his face.
Twitter Absolutely Obsessed With Andrew Garfield Right Now

.............................................

Florence + the Machine // Free:

Over the past few years there's been a steadily growing number of songs about anxiety/depression/mental health that have really resonated with my personal experiences with these things:

Raleigh Ritchie, Party Fear
Lizzy McAlpine, Doomsday
Avenue Beat, thank you, anxiety
Pom Pom Squad, Crying
Wy, Come Here
girl in red, Serotonin

But none of these have ever made me smile and cry and mourn and rejoice all at once quite like Free did.
Yet again, Florence pinpoints those crucial, inexplicable-for-the-rest-of-us moments that depression both gifts and robs us of.


I'm always running from something
I push it back, but it keeps on coming
And being clever never got me very far
Because it's all in my head
"You're too sensitive," they said
I said, "Okay, but let's discuss this at the hospital"

...

But I hear the music, I feel the beat
And for a moment, when I'm dancing, I am free
I hear the music, I feel the beat
And for a moment, when I'm dancing
I am free
I am free

.............................................

Word of the Day:

...
Minions kuss bisou GIF - Find on GIFER

Gru's little darlings.
Makes so much sense, now.

.............................................

Sweetbitter:

This was incredibly basic.
The font was the part I liked best.
And the second season title cards.
The idea of Tom Sturridge as a bad boy made me laugh like a fucking drain, though.
(If you've seen The Boat That Rocked, you'll get it, but bring on The Sandman!)
But what I'd really like to know is, are New Yorkers really such narcissistic, toxic assholes?
Because every show I watch based in New York is just...
Good Omens GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

.............................................

Amanda Macfarlane:

Pose eight.
Always pose eight.

.............................................

Infernal teases:

...


...
Don't Tease Me GIFs | Tenor

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