November 01, 2023

Things I enjoyed in the month of October:

Leigh Bardugo's, Hell Bent:

His clawed fingertips pierced the golden circle, and Alex stumbled backward, a high-pitched yelp emerging from her lips.
Darlington seemed to shift. He was taller, broader; his horns looked sharper. He had fangs. I feel a little less human.
Then he seemed to yank himself back to the center of the circle. He was sitting once more, hands on knees, as if he'd never moved. Maybe he really was meditating, trying to keep his demon self in check.
"Find the Gauntlet, make the descent. Come get me, Stern." He paused then, and his golden eyes flashed open. "Please."

The tactile memory of both reading the first page and sealing the last shut of Ninth House has a clarity my brain doesn't often award me.
So often, even with books that have a stubborn, unrelenting claim on my heart, their contents have a habit of trickling soundlessly out of my head, leaving only the ghost of the narrative in their stead.
I can tell you how I felt, how I still feel, I can list the exact reasons the characters are now eternally treasured blorbos, I could even describe the landscape of the imagined worlds I dwelt in for however many pages.
But the story?
A stuttered, fumbling blurb and a list of adjectives will most likely be my only response.
Maybe it's because I read over two hundred books a year (not a brag, I just really fucking love reading; if you manage two books a year, it's just as valid, possibly more so because you'll remember the damn stories), maybe it's because my brain is a bucket with no base and retaining information is more transient to me than the Grays (ghosts) dogging Alex Stern's every step, or maybe it would simply be too much to hold that many stories, year by year, inside a single brain.
For whatever reason, it doesn't make my love for them any less, it doesn't mean I don't think about them constantly (My Roman Empire? Sarai and Laszlo from Strange the Dreamer)it doesn't mean I don't hold their stories somewhere safe, tucked deep down inside, a little glowworm to warm me from the inside out.
I just can't remember them in detail.
It's the oddest sensation.
But that wasn't the case with Leigh Bardugo's tale of the academic arcane; the moment I entered the occult halls of Yale University I knew it'd latch its sticky, wicked barbs into the slick surface of my memory chamber and refuse to let go.
It's been nearly seven months since and its hold remains true, and one of the tightest clutches I've ever experienced whilst reading; I hope it never lets go.
To say I loved Ninth House is an understatement, I live for Ninth House, I practically breathe for it, it's everything I cherish and desire in not only Dark Academia, but in fantasy.
Sinuous storytelling and jagged, unreliable characters, set in the crisp brutality of higher education, fighting off the underworld with treasured tools of deviltry.
It's perfect, it's seductive, it's home.
Which is why I had no fear in reading its successor, the pointedly named, Hell Bent.
Even after seeing the lukewarm reviews from other readers, I still held no doubt that whatever Bardugo had planned for her rabble of discordant Dantes, it would soothe something in me, coil itself around my vital organs and sibilantly coax me into a comfort no other story provides.
But I knew it wouldn't be the same, I knew it wouldn't hold the same wonder-filled naivety of someone's first glance at true magic, not after everything we've seen, not after everything Alex has done.
If Ninth House was our introduction to the uncanny, Hell Bent is a baptism of fire.
The curtain's been drawn, the rabbit hole fallen down, the wardrobe door thrown wide open, and the ugly truth of magic revealed at last.
It is undoubtedly beautiful, cloaked with the shades of whimsy we imagined as children but magic always, always comes at a cost.

What had he imagined? Some muttered words, a voice from the beyond? Had he thought there would be dignity in this? But this was what real magic looked like―indecent, decadent, perverse. 
That was the truth of magic―blood and guts and semen and spit, organs kept in jars, maps for hunting human, the skulls of unborn infants. The problem wasn't books and fairy tales, just that they told half the story, offering up the illusion of a world where only the villains paid in blood, the ogre stepmothers, the wicked stepsisters, where magic was just and without sacrifice.

And someone always has to pay.
That's where we find ourself at the beginning of Hell Bent, back at the very start of Alex and Dawes' desperate search for their beloved Gentleman of Lethe, Daniel Arlington, Darlington.

Come home, Darlington. Alex picked up the glass of Armagnac and tipped it into the star-filled abyss. Come back and drink from this fancy bottle, raise a toast.

Devoured by a hell beast and trapped in Hell (?), the underworld (?), another dimension (?), as half man, half demon, waiting for rescue from eternal torment.
Or perhaps... not?
It's where we began NH, thrown into the void without a lamp to guide us, drip-fed crumbs of how Darlington found himself a snack for the sateless abyss, clinging to Alex's inky coattails as she ducks and weaves her way through a rescue mission, only to ultimately fail, and fail she did.
The objective hasn't changed, though, if anything Alex and Dawes are more determined than ever to do the one thing we've been waiting for since the beginning:

Springing the Gentleman of Lethe from Hell

This is a heist.
I can't believe it took me this long to realise it, but Bardugo's doing what she does best (there's a reason Six of Crows is my favourite of her books), she's committing the robbery of all robberies: snatching a soul from Hell and short-changing Charon his obol.
When I realised this, when I clocked the direction Hell Bent was going, I had to take a beat to let the joy-overload sink into my skin because this is what Bardugo does, this is where she goddamn shines, and because of course, of course this was what was going to happen, of course this was the only way they could get Darlington back on mortal ground.
Not by asking nicely, not by playing by the rules.
Because you can't bargain with demons, you can't offer them a bribe or a trade, you can't speak an incantation and hope what's missing will magically be returned, you just can't.
The only way, the way it's been done since Orpheus and Eurydice, is to venture into the belly of the beast and take what you want from right under their sulphurous noses and hope to your deity of choice that they don't notice one of their suffering flock is missing.
But what's the likelihood of that, right?
Like I said, there's always a price when dealing with the devil, but the question remains, who's going to pay it?
Alex of course, it's always Alex.
My darling girl, scraped raw by the world and left to fend for herself against ghosts, demons, academics, arguably the most terrifying of them all.
In Ninth House I felt like she'd be impossible to truly know, spliced in three by her past, present, and future, kept afloat by the cacophony of her own lies, how could I ever trust anything she deigned to tell us?
And that feeling of her being unknowable remained for the whole of Ninth House, a loyal companion as she fought to survive and triumph against varying shades of the supernatural.
But it's different this time around, something was shredded open the moment she heard Darlington's voice on the other side, something vital, and at long last my unknowable girl let us in, none more so than when her, Dawes, Tripp, and Turner opened the gateway to hell and stalked purposefully downwards.

Alex didn't remember falling, but suddenly she was on her back in the water, sinking fast, the river closing over her. She tried to push towards the surface, but something grabbed her wrist, an arm wrapped around her waist. She screamed, felt the water rush in. Fingers pushed into her mouth, trying to dig into her eye sockets, clawing into the skin of her arms and legs, their grip cold and unrelenting.
Buried alive. That wasn't supposed to be what it was like.

#the girl with the dragon tattoo from THEY WILL NOT CONTROL US

Every author's version of the underworld will be different, be it your traditional bubbling pits of hellfire, or something more industrial, arid, breathless, perhaps even rank with depravity; honestly, I'm a fan of them all, but I have a sincere fondness for the idea that hell is akin to an alternate dimension, a colourless reflection of our own lived reality.
Apocalypse World | Supernatural Wiki | Fandom

To be trapped in, what I would assume, would be the most painful, traumatising moment of your life, to live whatever happened on repeat, or endlessly endeavour to right a wrong, a missed chance? That is more horrifying than any eldritch devil with a kink for inflicting unimaginable pain.
And that's exactly what Leigh Bardugo gave us:

They emerged from the orchard into what looked like a sprawling outdoor mall that had been abandoned, or maybe never finished. The buildings were massive, some with arched windows, others square. Everything was spotlessly clean and color somewhere between gray and beige
Alex squinted out at the flat gray day. Could it even been day if there was no sun visible? The bruised sky stretched on and on, and wherever they were . . . No pits of fire. No obsidian walls. It felt like a suburb, a new one, for a city that didn't exist. The streets were spotless, the buildings nearly identical. They had the shape of the strip malls that lived on every corner of the valley, full of nail salons and dry cleaners and head shops. But there were no signs over the doors here and no customers. The storefronts were empty.
Alex turned in a slow circle, trying to stifle the wave of dizziness that overtook her. Everything was the same sandy, washed-out beige, not just the buildings but the grass and the sidewalks as well.
She felt an unpleasant shiver move over her. "I know where we are."

There were endless moments of beauty in Ninth House (and her previous books, too), you only have to take one look at the tabs preening proudly from the page edges of my copy to see that, but there is something about the aesthetic of Bardugo's inferno, an inexplicable remembrance of something I'd never seen but unquestionably knew, that set a humming off inside my skin.
The watery, guilt-washed descent, the mythicism of Alex and the others' transformation.

No one looked quite like they should. Dawes wore parchment-colored robes, the cuffs stained with ink, and her red hair had been elaborately arranged in thick braids. Turner wore a cloak of gleaming black feathers that shimmered like the back of a beetle. Tripp was in armor, but the kind that looked like it had never seen battle, enamel white, an ermine cape fastened over his left shoulder with an emerald brooch the size of a peach pit. The scholar, the priest, and the prince. Alex held out her arms. She was wearing armor, too, but it was forged steel, made for warfare. The armor of a soldier.

The sepia-hued echo of Black Elm, and the slavering hounds sniffing at the heels of their every step for a taste of something mortal, something alive.

This is the hell I can't help but be drawn to, Bardugo's Hadean mythology the one that makes the most sense, and honestly, the place that Alex seems to make the most sense in.
She's an enigma, Galaxy Stern, a person out of place, a puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit, which is understandable when since infancy you've been plagued by lost souls tugging at your skin, grasping for notice, it's to be expected that she wouldn't fit anywhere near the norm.
Not at home, not at Yale, not even in Lethe House.

Alex wasn't just a girl with warm skin and a clever tongue and hair shiny as a mirror. A ring of blue fire glowed around her. Alex was a doorway, and through her, Hellie could see the stars.

But in the underworld? Where every step's a puzzle, every encounter a battle, every breath one of labour? That's the existence Alex understands, the one she's lived her whole life, and the moment she breaches the surface to hell, the second she adorns the soldier's hallowed armour and is struck alight with blue hellfire, she somehow becomes the most herself she's ever been.

Confident, sure of her footing, and unnervingly familiar with the landscape of Hell; she instinctively knows where to go, where to lead, where to find Darlington, and it's mesmerising.
Alex has always come across as a ferocious creature on the outside, an undine as Darlington likes to call her, slick black and seductively snarled, but on the inside?
Marshmallow. Fractured. Clinging to survival.
She can take one hell of a blow but it'll reverberate inside her eternally, a perpetual cicatrice across her soul.
We can see that now, after finally being granted entry to those parts of her, the crevices formally sealed up tight that home a girl unrepentant for the murder of bad men but forever guilt-ridden over the people she couldn't save.
Galaxy Stern isn't unknowable, she isn't cold, she's one of the most empathetic characters I've come across and it eats her alive.
ohalexander | Jaimie alexander, Ashley johnson, Blindspot

But not in in the down below, not where the light blinks out, not where Darlington is, her Gentleman Demon, and there's something terrifying about that.

Her life had been built on lies and stolen chances, a series of tricks, and evasions, and sleight of hand. She already knew the language of demons. She'd been speaking it her whole life. A little magic. The stones to take a beating.

Speaking of her refined devil; I swear I felt the book sigh when he finally appeared in all his ivy-blooded, languidly regal glory.
Aaron Taylor Johnson Tumblr 2014

It feels as though I've waited an eternity to break bread with the golden boy of Lethe, surviving on flashbacks to past conversations with Alex, mere glimpses of who he was and how he introduced her to the arcane secreted in the musty architecture of Yale University, waiting impatiently for his ascent back to the human world, to her.
I'll always mourn not having time with the Darlington of before, the man he was prior to everything going to shit; that easy charm and frightening intellect, enough to seduce the wariest of souls, but the creature he returns as is quite enough to sate my need.
I don't quite know what I was expecting from his return, I don't even know if I fully believed it'd happen in this book, but that ceased to matter when he at last appeared, the Gentleman Demon, aglow in golden hellfire, crowned with sharp, curling horns, the look of a king slashed across his face, speaking in riddles and deceits, asking for books (HUSBAND!) to sate his boredom while he awaits true rescue.

The chalk circle glowed golden, less a circle than a shimmering walls, and at its center, Daniel Tabor Arlington V sat cross-legged, naked as a baby in the bath. Two horns curled back from his forehead, their ridges gleaming as if shot through with molten gold, and his body was covered in bright markings. A wide golden collar ringed his neck, ornamented with rows of garnet and jade.
Darlington's hair had always been kept tidy but not too tidy, as effortless as the rest of him. Now it curled around his neck. Apparently there were no barbers in hell.

Good gods, it was everything I could've asked for and more; to have him back as himself would've been splendid, but as something... other? Decadent feels too trifling a word.
Darlington, at last.
Or at least, a fracturing of him.

Through the windows she could see the demon with his curling horns, standing amid the discarded croquet set on the lawn, gazing up at her with golden eyes.
"There are two of you," Alex said.
"There have to be," Darlington replied. "The boy and the monster. I am the hermit in the cave."

Man? Demon? Cambion? It's hard to say, but whatever he is, whatever he's seen, done, enjoyed, he's so very, very welcome to stay.
If only for the things he says to Alex, thinks about her, starving, unleashed things that reverberated off the page, shaking a little more of my sanity loose.

"Galaxy Stern," Darlington said, his eyes flashing gold, "I have been crying out to you from the start."


"I knew you'd come."


"Go," Darlington insisted.
But Alex couldn't. Not when they were this close, not when she'd held his soul in her hands. "Please," she begged. "Come with us. We can―"
Darlington's smile was small. "You found me once, Stern. You'll find me again. Now go." He turned to face the wolves.


"Darlington?" Alex stammered. "I . . . Where are you going?"
"To get some clothes, Stern," he said, climbing the steps and leaving bloody footprints behind. "A man can only spend so much time without trousers on before he begins to feel like a deviant."


They watched each other in the quiet of the kitchen. They knew everything about each other. They knew nothing at all. He had a sense that they have entered into an uneasy truce, but he couldn't quite name the war. She was more beautiful than he remembered. No, that wasn't true. It wasn't that she had changed or that his vision had sharpened. He was just less afraid of her beauty now.


"I'm bound to you, Stern. To the woman who brought me out of hell. I will serve you 'til the end of days."


Demons were not thinking creatures. They operated on instinct, driven by their appetites. He had prided himself on being nothing like that. Never rash. Guided by reason. But now he wanted in a way he never had. He had been tempted to bury his face in his soup bowl and lap at it like a greedy animal. He wanted to place himself between Alex's legs now and do the same to her.


"Fuck off, Darlington."
[Alex] strode to the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To the armory to talk to Turner. Then I have some calls to make. You know your problem?"
"A predilection for first editions and women who like to lecture me about myself?"


He saw Alex in the garden, a black-winged bird, night gathered around her like a silken shroud shot through with stars. His monstrous queen. His gentle ruler.

And the things Alex thinks in return:

Welcome home. Welcome back. We missed you. I missed you more than I should have, more than I wanted to. I went to hell for you. I'd do it again.

Bardugo, you can't just say things like that and expect me to keep my cool.
I've shipped these two from the very start, from the second Darlington showed Alex the Address Moths inside Il Bastone and transformed magic from a curse to a wonder.

She remembered Darlington leading her up the stairs at the Hutch, into the hall at Il Bastone, down haunted streets, and through secret passages. He'd been her guide, her Virgil. How many times had he turned to her and said, Come with me? He'd promised her miracles and horrors too, and he'd delivered.

I couldn't help myself, how could I not let my idiot heart get involved when two monsters collide?

Now, standing in the ballroom, she said, "You didn't turn away. Even when you didn't like what you saw in me. You kept looking."
Darlington's gaze shifted and flickered like firelight. Gold and then amber. Bright and then shadowed. "Maybe I know a fellow monster when I see one."

But I had to pause myself for second, accuse my "easy" shipping of heteronormative proximity and see if it stuck, make sure I wasn't putting my hopes into a pairing simply because the author offered them up.
We all do it, don't be pious.
But that's just not the case with these two; Hell Bent isn't brimming over with romance, it's not that kind of tale - or its predecessor's, more content to focus on the misdeeds and consequences of dabbling in the occult than the MC mooning over each other, but the connection between all the characters is undeniable, and grows as the story goes on:

πŸ‡ Pam (who I love even more, if possible) has always loved Darlington dearly, but her admiration and protectiveness of Alex shines in the sequel; without Darlington holding things together, they form an unshakable unit that had me warm with pride in both their trust in each other but also in Dawe's confidence in herself. She's a force to be reckoned with, a sorceress in the kitchen and casting death rites.

πŸ‡ Turner, stalwart, rule-abiding Turner, really fucks around and finds out in his association with the guardians of Yale this time, wearing his armour a little looser, a little bolder, letting his Dante and his Oculus sidle inside, and perhaps even care for them, just a little.

πŸ‡ Mercy, a side-character now made part of the team, their guardian as they descend, a tether to the mortal realm, brave as fuck but perhaps a little too human for Alex's world. I didn't know I needed her presence in the story as much as I did until she shucked off the mundane and stepped surefooted into the extraordinary.

πŸ‡ And of course, Tripp. Good ol', Tripp. There's no one more human than he, even when the very worst happens.

They all play a significant role in upping the ante of the story, of elevating the found family vibe coursing its way from character to character, of taking this disparate, disaffected group of misfits and binding them together, but it's Alex and Darlington that truly steal the show.

He supposed she had betrayed him. But in the end it had taken this monstrous girl to drag him back from the underworld. There was nothing he could say that would shock her, and that was powerful comfort.

Their connection is palpable, though not overt, every second of it moreish but truly frustrating, the vast number of times I simply wanted to physically shake the book so they would collide more often and finally admit their attraction was bordering on violent.
No, it was violent, but entirely warranted because fuck! The phrase Just kiss already! is ever present in my mind - easy shipper, remember - but these two really tested my patience. I don't think they even touched in the entirety of the story, not once, just fervid glances loaded with unspoken truths, desires, intentions.
It's enough to drive a bitch crazy, and I don't need help in that department.
The worst part, though? I don't necessarily think acknowledging their mutual attraction is part of Leigh Bardugo's grand plan, her endgame, because the thing with this series, like I mentioned before, is that it's about the magic and the mayhem, about discovering the depths powerful people will plunder for success, and who, what, they'd bargain with.

"The men of Yale built a Gauntlet and called their journey one of exploration. But exploration is just another word for conquest, and like all adventures, once they had seen the riches they could attain, they had no reason to return empty-handed."
"It's Faust all over again," said Darlington.
Anselm hummed. "Except Faust paid for his sins himself. Not so your pilgrims. They claimed money, fame, talent, influence. For themselves and for their societies. They just left someone else to pick up the bill."
Skull and Bones. Book and Snake. Scroll and Key. Alex thought of all the money that had flowed through their coffers. The gifts given to the university. All bought at the expense of a future generation's suffering. And Lethe had allowed it.

It's not about two twenty year old outcasts finding love in the middle of the Hadean apocalypse.
It's a part of it, for sure, Bardugo wouldn't have introduced the idea if it wasn't possible, but I can absolutely see her not following through with it.
Or even worse.
She's burned me before (iykyk), she's not afraid to fuck over her readers' desires - an attribute I both admire and detest authors for, but not making Galaxington canon? That won't hurt, it'll burn.
It'll burn enough that I'll daydream constantly of what could've been, scour AO3 for alternate endings, shuck through Instagram's abysmal search engine to find fanart to sate my visual needs, I'll do just about anything to get the ending I hoped for.
I think I could live with her decision, I could handle the series not daring to be romantic, not sating my need, because the narrative as it stands bears such audacity, such presence that it doesn't need to be anything more.
What Bardugo's doing in Hell Bent and the series as a whole is what all great fantasy should: crooking a finger across the boundary of reality and beckoning you to come inside, take a chance, believe.
It's the very definition of: There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Bardugo is testing your arrogance to not believe in the impossible, and positing the possibility of: but what if?
And it works, she makes you believe that within the musty, neo-gothic edifices of Yale University there could be sentient libraries waiting slumberously to answer your every query, a mirror to reflect you into alternate dimensions, a bath to cure all ills.
It all seems so feasible, and for someone, like myself, who believes in nothing, but hopes for everything, it's a feast for the imagination, a welcome mat to something more, to hope.
I hope for address moths, I hope for animal guardians inked into the skin (mine would probably end up being a lazy cat, though), I hope for salt pearls to ward off the unclean (I loved Bardugo's take on vampires, it's so elegantly grotesque), I hope for everything magic has to offer.
Just like Alex does, a woman violated by wraiths and reality her entire life, a woman who's been shown that there's more to "Heaven and Earth" and finally saying a grand fuck you to her oppressors, who's taking her life back even though it might hurt, it won't be easy, but it'll be worth it for a sprawling view of the uncanny.

"You will endure so much. But the pain you feel?" She took Alex's chin in her bony fingers. "You will give it back tenfold."

A view now pointed directly through the doorway they opened into the muted shades of Hell, and all its occupants slithering their way through.
As Shakespeare so profoundly put it:

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

But to quote Alex Stern:

"Come on, Darlington, [...] Let's give them hell."

I cannot wait.
I cannot fathom how I book I see in nothing other than shadow and the flicker of dead starlight will take on the final battle between a girl plagued by ghosts, a gentleman hosting a demon, a cerebral witch, a hieratic detective, their undead himbo, and the beasts of the underworld.
All I can do is follow.
And hope.

"The devil knows your name now, Galaxy Stern."

Fanart time while I quietly freak out over the fact that there isn't even a proposed release date for the final book (FUCK):
Marion Bordeyne

SJ Beckner



Fabiola Colavecchio's JuicyJune2023 contributions:

Why do a peachy butt and a lemonade sunset feel like the epitome of summer?
Happy Summer! - PokΓ©memes - PokΓ©mon, PokΓ©mon GO


Sex Education final season:

I don't accept this season as the finale.
I refuse.
I love these goblins immensely but this was miserable bullshit with an endless stream of new and unnecessary storylines that resulted in the main story arcs feeling rushed and unsatisfying.
That Makes Zero Sense Viv Odusanya GIF - That Makes Zero Sense Viv Odusanya Sex Education GIFs

I wasn't expecting neat little bows to tie everything up, but I was hoping for some goddamn satisfaction.
Not a cluster-dump of every issue currently trending on social media - important, valid issues that the show has dealt with grace and humour previously, instead of panic-crowding everything in at once.
Where was the nuance, where was the farce, where was the joy?
This didn't feel like the Sex Education I shoved my heart at gleefully after the first episode aired four years ago, it didn't make me smile like a moron, it didn't make me cringe in a delighted way, and that just feels like a fucking crime. 
So I repeat: no, I refuse.
Instead, I'll pick and choose the moments that actually did work for me, that felt like the show I've followed and loved since the beginning, and make my own ending, because I can:

πŸ† Aimee reclaiming herself, owning her trauma, and transforming it with art - her screaming at the workmen who insist she smile to fuck the fuck off felt like a primal scream from every woman who's had their bodily autonomy taken away by complete strangers. I loved this moment, Aimee Lou Wood deserves all the awards
πŸ’¦ Maeve in America, writing, existing, telling narcissist professor Dan Levy off - Emma Mackey, love of my life, I hope she gets everything
πŸ† Adam healing his relationship with his dad, with himself, with his sexuality - bully redemption stories are not normally something I'm down for, but Adam's the exception; he's the epitome of hurt puppy cinnamon roll
πŸ’¦ Amy and Isaac being effortlessly adorable - spinoff with just these two?
πŸ† The recognition of ableism in society, even from the most well-meaning people
πŸ’¦ Eric figuring out his place in his religion - my shiny glam-child, I love you so, tell me your glowy secrets
πŸ† Jean's struggle with postpartum - we don't see enough of this extremely prevalent reality for anyone post-birth in media, or shown so mundanely; Gillian Anderson crushed it, like she always does
πŸ’¦ The day to day realities (emotional, physical, societal) of being Trans, and the gender dysphoria that can occur while transitioning - I wish there'd been more time for this storyline and more focus on Cal so Dua Saleh could really do their thing, but what we got, and how it brought everything to a head in the final episode, was pretty wonderful
πŸ† Ncuti Gatwa continuing to ruin my life with his shine this show outright banished  the idea of a side-character and Eric is a magnificent example of that; he's no one's sidekick, he's the main attraction
πŸ’¦ Otis and Maeve's breakup - seems a weird one to keep because I do ship them, but it felt right, it felt inevitable, and it was executed very tenderly
πŸ† Ruby's backstory and how it shaped her - even as a bully I've liked Ruby since the beginning, but some clarity on why she's so harsh was greatly appreciated; she's like the Cordelia Chase of Moordale College, and CC is one of the all-time best "mean girl" characters
πŸ’¦ Hannah Gadsby - enough said, honestly, they're magnificent
πŸ† Jean helping Maeve process her grief and not give up - when Emma Mackey cries, I fucking cry

Yes, that'll all do nicely.
I'M On A Healing Journey Aimee Gibbs GIF - I'M On A Healing Journey Aimee Gibbs Sex Education GIFs

Little fanart:
Daniela Uhlig



Fiona Lopez's Cat Omens:

I really dropped the ball on posting Good Omens fanart, as in, I fully intended to post more but got entirely overwhelmed by the sheer quantity I've collected since the second season started airing.
It's a lot.
A scary amount.
The fanartists went apeshit and I glommed down everything they continue to offer up.
And I wussed out and decided not to break the internet with an overloaded blog post.
Instead, I'm gonna GO bomb the Monthlies whenever I can be arsed, which will likely be sporadic as fuck, but I think Cat Crowley and Aziraphale are an excellent place to start!
SaveGotham on Twitter

Also, there's this:




I was hoping for Gone Girl levels of boss bitch revenge fuckery.
Instead I got happenstance and hysterics.
Don't have the audacity to use Swifty's revenge song as your theme tune if you're not gonna serve.
#jennacolemanedit from ultraviolences

Jenna Coleman kinda slapped, though; I've liked her since Doctor Who (the Matt Smith era was the best era - sorry Tennant, you're better suited to ineffable husbanding anyway - but so looking forward to baby boy Ncuti Gatwa taking his turn to pilot the Tardis), and have been waiting ever since to see her in something she could slay in.
The show might not do exactly as it says on the tin, but Coleman certainly does.
If only she'd been allowed to go the full Amazing Amy, though.
That would've been something to behold.


A little seasonal Sally:
r a y a

Ana Godis

Victoria Evans

Controversial question:

Christmas movie or Halloween movie?

Whats This GIFs | Tenor

(Christmas movie)


Please Like Me

At this point, I think I'm half watching it because it's brilliant, I love it, it brings me an immense amount of comfort, and half simply to see how long I can get away with it before it's taken down and solely available on Hulu.
(Hulu, ffs, come to the UK already, I'm dying over here, and I want to see Josh Thomas' other show!)
But mostly the first thing.
And Caitlin Stasey:

Shadow and Bone

Apparently I was in a Leigh Bardugo kinda mood.
I would highly recommend watching the two seasons back to back if you felt a little underwhelmed after season two, it hangs together way better, so much more cohesion in the alterations they made to fit Alina and The Crows narratives together.
Shadow and Bone | Official Trailer : hello there

I'm still not sure how everything's going to go in regards to subsequent seasons, though, what with the Hellgate heist being much further in the future in the books, and King of Scars even further, and how Alina and Mal are going to fit into everything (this might become more clear if I'd stop putting off reading Rule of Wolves...).
It's all gotten rather messy.
And I refuse to miss out on Hellgate, definitively refuse, it was when I started to realise just how clever and tricksy a writer Bardugo really is, when I marked her as a beloved author - hard not to when she gifts you characters like Nina and Jesper and Kaz and Inej and Matthias and Wylan ... I didn't mean to list them all but when perfection's just sitting right there...
So, I'm going to put my faith in her, trust that whatever comes next it'll have the Bardugo seal of approval.
And cross my fingers so hard they're likely to snap.
Normal human behaviour.
Yes Nina Zenik GIF - Yes Nina Zenik Shadow And Bone GIFs

Heartbreak High

I've come to some conclusions:

🍭 The series is impeccable
🍭 Ca$h and Darren are everything
🍭 If Australia wasn't full of terrifying bugs, I'd move there
🍭 90s grunge is forever the best aesthetic
🍭 Amerie is a killer absolute-nightmare protagonist
🍭 I'm unhinged for season two, completely feral, let it be released soon

And I will watch the show at least once every two months until that day happens
Without a doubt.

Love Victor

I dunno, it's not great but I find it oddly comforting?
Plus, milady Katya/best bitch/glitter queen, makes a brief yet vital to my endorphins appearance:
18 Reasons Why You Should Binge-Watch "Love, Victor"


I love them all, I do, but it's really about Quincy and Douglas.

I love when side characters steal the spotlight.
If you're looking for a show about queer love that isn't sugary sweet but still embraces the joy of being in love and queer, then watch Eastsiders.
Just turn the volume down on Cal, the resident emo sad boy nightmare human:
Kit Williamson Fanpage

We love him, but the existential brooding... oh the brooding.
Such a messy bitch.


Ed Fairbank's portrait maps:

All I can think about when I look at these, other than the mind-boggling amount of forethought that must go into planning each of them - truly, it hurts just thinking about, is DC Peter Grant.
Who I've had many a fancast for over the years, including Anthony WelshSamuel AndersonElliot Barnes-Worrell, but the top runner at the moment?
Mr Jacob Anderson, one half of my current OTP, who I'll scream about further down the page:
Moved — Jacob Anderson Gif Hunt

He would make such a good Peter, it's not even funny.
We Told You Grey Worm From "Game Of Thrones" Makes Music Too


Peter would absolutely do this in the bath, but with a ball of werelight instead.
Precious idiot.


Where Are the Lady Gandalfs? by Molly Templeton for Tor:

This really slapped me in the heart.
I've thought and thought and thought about it and I can barely come up with any Lady Gandalfs, which I find incredibly distressing but wholly predictable of the society we live in, which, if we're honest, hates women and hates them even more when they age.
You just have to look at any woman movie star and see how unfit to be seen and heard society considers them to be: the roles they're given, the plastic surgery they have done, their whole late thirties to early sixties where they can't get work.
It's a vile fact that's been in place for years and doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and I'd not really acknowledged it in literature, specifically, the same way I had in real life.
I've searched through my books and struggled to find any older roles filled by wise women, scrolled through the movies I've seen and come up empty, ransacked my graphic novels and witnessed the absolute dearth of these type of characters.
I only have this short list to show for my creaky brain and honestly, they're all awesome, but this is depressing the fuck out of me.

πŸͺ² Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg
πŸͺ² Frances and Jet Owens
πŸͺ² Aunt B
πŸͺ² Baghra
πŸͺ² Aughra
πŸͺ² Martha Macnamara
πŸͺ² The spaewives of 300 Fox Way 
πŸͺ² Zeniba/Granny

This is not okay.
There should be so many more.
Why aren't there more?!
I'm with Molly Templetonwhere the fuck are my Lady Gandalfs?
Larry Scott's Intermediate Mass-Training Routine


sushiartstudio's Iced Gems hoarding dragon:

I've always thought as a dragon (men can have their Roman Empire, I think about being a dragon on the daily) my horde would be comprised of books or bread, my two favourite things.
But I think I'm gonna have to add Iced Gems to the list; sweet boy looks super comfy and always has a snack at hand, that's the dream.
Charizard PokΓ©mon GIF - Charizard PokΓ©mon Sleep - Discover & Share GIFs

For the non-Brits wondering wtf an Iced Gem is, it's basically a tiny flavourless biscuit with a piped blob of equally flavourless (they do have flavours but they're a mystery to the known universe) chalky meringue plopped on top.
They're immense and have zero reason to be.
One day, I'll cover an entire cake in them and pray my teeth can survive the cronch.
Icegems GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY


October orations:
Olivia Rodrigo // ballad of a homeschooled girl and love is embarrassing

But really:

Hozier ft. Brandi Carlisle // Damage Gets Done

But honestly:

Troye Sivan // One of Your Girls
(We are so not worthy)

Holly Humberstone // Kissing in Swimming Pools, Paint My Bedroom Black, and Ghost Me

But frankly:

Paris Paloma // drywall
(🎡 He’s punching walls again
Cohesive arguments evade him
Eggshell temperament
No emotional regulation
Hysterical baby)

Savana Santos // die!

But truly:

deathbyromy ft. Jazmin Bean // Hellhound


Johnny the Alchemist's maximalist fairy tale cottage:

It'S Perfect Mad Hatter GIF by Gotham - Find & Share on GIPHY

I gotta get over my fear of painting, because I need to live in a place like this.


Two movies with different vibes that gave me the same soft, safe feels:
You Hurt My Feelings

When I think of Julia Louis-Dreyfus I don't normally think of the acerbic mundane, rather a thunderstorm of cussing and bad behaviour - which is how I like her best; watch Veep if you haven't already, Selina Meyer is breathtaking.
But there's something so comfortable about watching her sullenly and chaotically deal with criticism for your art from someone you love, who's opinion you value the most.
It fucking hurts and makes you act a little understandably monstrously.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a master of the petty monstrousness (I refer you once again to Selina Meyer).

Love at First Sight

This is not a life-altering romcom, not in the slightest, but it's very, very sweet.
Almost harmless in its charm, like a travel sweet: fruity and dusted in powdered sugar, a welcome treat on a long car ride (or a short one, there's never a time limit on travel sweets), but by no means a tastebud explosion.
It's the kind of movie I'll probably watch routinely, when I need a little boost in easy serotonin, like all good romcoms should provide.
#cute things from livelovecaliforniadreams
#cute things from livelovecaliforniadreams

Also, Jameela Jamil as some form of Clarence/Rowan Atkinson deific narrator is unexpectedly, yet wholly expectedly perfect.
Love At First Sight Cocktail GIF by NETFLIX

She's arch, she's leading, she's meddling, she's a beautiful giraffe.


Trev Cimenski:

My house will be the one taking care of me
It will have scars
And stains
Like me
I'll never have to tip toe

I've been putting my hands
In ant holes
Hoping that they'd take me

I've been busy
Digging graves for versions of myself
That have died off

And if my lawn is my nails
Then my home
Is in my hands

Too busy eating sunlight
Too busy giving the wind its noise

They can crinkle
And lose colour
And get with the seasons
But death is too big for tiny things

All I need is twenty more miles
And I promise I'll be fine

I'll be the song on the radio
I'll be the song that gets me there

To get me beneath a burning neon thirst
Because being parched hurts
Tears me up like birch trees

When I was five years old
I was the greatest piano player in the world
When I was six
I learned what the wrong notes were
And I could no longer play the piano

Kidnap me
To some place

To where the sound of thunder
Is just
God rearranging the furniture
To where sometimes
The people turn
Into sand dollars

The quote Charles Simic:

The secret wish of poetry is to stop time. [...] Poems are other people's snapshots in which we recognize ourselves.

This is how I feel when I listen to Trev Cimenski's voice, his words, his remembrances.


 A Spell to Captivate Queers: The Covenant's Magical Bros and the Reboot We Need by Nathan Tavares for Tor:

I Want That GIFs | Tenor

You don't understand, The Covenant's had this weird chokehold on me since forever.
It's ostensibly terrible, and like the article points out, completely misses out on a chance to embrace its glaring queerness, but I don't know, there's just something about Timmy Riggins as a witch that's always tickled me.
Taylor kitsch my the covenant GIF on GIFER - by Adoradwyn

And an unhinged Sebastian Stan is always fun (see: Fresh, Once Upon a TimeWe Have Always Lived in the Castle):
thats what heroes do — SEBASTIAN STAN as CHASE COLLINS the covenant...

But I do just genuinely love it.
Dark Academia, witchcraft, and guys doing that super close talking as intimidation but really it's an excuse for us all to scream JUST KISS ALREADY! at the screen ten thousand times because the sexual tension is just. too. much.
Uh, those are my favourite things.
I need a tv adaptation that cashes in hard on all that MLM goodness.
And I need it now.
The covenant taylor kitsch GIF on GIFER - by Gogar


The fanartists showing my beloved Floor Troll, Rachel Maksy the love she deserves:
Liza Mennes

Katerina aka. dreamerstreet

Becca Shipley

Savannah Alexandra

Vanisha Patel

Shannon Danel

If you like crafts, chaos, and coffee rolled into a hobbit-core inhabiting, Halloween-obsessed, cosplay-creating lovable goofball, then Rachel Maksy's the goblin you're looking for.
She's the highlight of every second Sunday of the month.
And who I hear when the clock strike October 1st:


Tamsyn Muir's, Undercover:

A girl slithered up from the black square and climbed bodily out onto the stage. She struck a pose. Most of her face, whited out in the light, was just a pair of lips painted raspberry/ She had cocooned herself thickly in a spangled white wrap, but the shape of the body beneath was lovely. It was beauty of the sharp, slender, hungry kind, and it was good for what it was, especially when she started moving to the music. She moved weirdly, unselfconsciously, almost like she was drunk or doped, shoulders lolling, head dropping, unwrapping herself from the spangled cloth.
Then the cloth started coming off for real, the girl spinning through those unhurried, doped-up pirouettes. The revealed body was even prettier uncovered―what there was of it. There were moth-eaten holes in the abdomen and the neck, and one knee and one hip were fully defleshed. The raspberry lips parted to reveal the dancer's teeth.
What happened next was a massacre.

Is Tamsyn Muir the grandmaster of undead lesbians and perilous puzzles?
Mmhmm Okay GIF - Mmhmm Okay David Schitts - Discover & Share GIFs

This was gross as hell and I loved it.

"I'm not Amy."
"You are what you eat," said Lucille.
"Oh cute," she said. "Very cute."


No One Will Save You:

I watched this to rinse my brain clean of the travesty that was the live action The Little Mermaid (Halle Bailey crushed it, a near perfect Ariel, but milquetoast Eric, Melissa McCarthy in slapdash drag - if you're gonna do drag makeup, get a drag queen to do it ffs, Awkwafina making my ears bleed, and bummer-daddy Triton hurt my soul. And where was Ariel's slutty sparkle dress at the end? What the actual fuck? It's the best part! Although a little weird that her dad dresses her in it. Just saying), and it totally worked.

This movie is bonkers, near wordless, and kept me wrapt for ninety minutes - the internet ruined my attention span and I can only watch movies while doing something else, so focusing entirely on Kaitlyn Dever outsmart multi-jointed, bone-snapping aliens was a fucking miracle.
The ending is still making me laugh, because... what the fuckity fuck and why did it feel so fucking right and wholesome?!
It's been two weeks and I cannot get over how totally unexpected and sincerely perfect it was.

I'm not usually one for the alien genre, it's just not my thing, but this was absolutely worth ignoring my take it or leave it instincts.
10 out of 10, fine alien fun!
No One Will Save You GIFs on GIPHY - Be Animated
Junk Food Cinemas

And really fucking pretty, which was unexpected.

Bonus: This article made some interesting points I hadn't even considered.


Brain things:
Cassandra Calin
(All day, every day, every thing)

Sarah Andersen
(I offer the highest of eternally sleepy fives to my fellow crunchy boned neurodivergents)

Lana Black
(You can pry the tv noise out of my cold dead hands; this brain needs babysitting!)


Interview with the Vampire:

Hahahahahahaohno I'm in love with the most dramatic bloodsucker in the history of fiction:

He is baby girl.
He is perfection.
He is Lestat de-fucking Lioncourt.
That Friend Who Downplays Everything GIF - Imokay Bleeding Backseat GIFs

Historically, I fucking abhor Anne Rice's purple prose nightmare vamps; I struggled to finish the overwritten, flowery pomp-fest that is the book, and the movie was too campy even for me - I have to revisit that, though, I was a teenager the last time I watched it and gorging myself pretentiously on a deluge of foreign cinema. I was not fit for campy vamps having existential drama meltdowns.
But the second I watched the trailer for the tv show adaptation, I knew it'd be nothing short of epic, and I was not wrong.
My sisters can attest to the fact that I have gone absolutely fucking feral over the show, a thirsty goblin who lapped up each episode like I was Lestat licking a juicy peasant ie. fucking delighted.
This is the most me-coded show I've seen in years and I can't believe it's based on something I loathe, that I've talked shit about for years - I mean, it's not Twilight, but christ I had opinions on it.
Now that is what good screenwriting, acting, and directing will get you.
And the above-mentioned baby girl.
I love him so mu-u-u-u-ch.
He's so fucking refined and his voice and the unhinged crazy stare he levels at the walking happy meals who dare to breathe his air is just... FUCK.
He is the epitome of the hot brat, and it's amazing, life-changing, tran-fucking-scendant!

Did I mention I've lost my fucking mind?
And this lost of sanity is happening concurrently with simping over sweater boy Louis de Pointe du Lac  - drama baby's eternal sweetheart, his sunshine boy, played by the inimitable Jacob Anderson, he crushed it.
#lestat de lioncourt from hapi πŸ‡΅πŸ‡Έ

And their adopted daughter, Claudia, she who hides body parts in her doll trunk and pokes the Lestat-bear for shits and giggles and ultimate destruction - Bailey Bass was fucking amazing and I'm gonna miss her acutely in the next season.
Interview With The Vampire Claudia GIF - Interview with the vampire Claudia  Interview with a vampire - Discover & Share GIFs

Look at my murder family strut:
myGifs | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumpik

So, I'll be losing my mind slowly until season two hits the UK, what will everyone else be up to?

Ps. This outfit ruined my fucking life:
Interview With The Vampire Television GIF by Anne Rice's Immortal Universe

Let's fanart this bitch:


May Ventura





Pati Cmak

Virgina Ardizzone

Serena aka. froggygoon


Angel Sillu aka. sabattons


Melanie Gilman
(Possibly my favourite one)



lilaeleaf's Suffering Gobs:

Which Gob are you?
Krenko, Mob Boss: Mobocracy (Commander / EDH MTG Deck)


🐞 Tummy Ache Survivor
🐞 Headache Survivor
🐞 Recharging
🐞 Iron Deficient
🐞 The Lights Are Loud
🐞 My Tummy Hurts (but I'm being so brave about it)

So basically all of them...
Oh So Im The Problem Denise GIF - Oh So Im The Problem Denise Saturday  Night Live - Discover & Share GIFs

Happy Halloween, gremlins.

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