Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!! It’s time for the reading discussion of Between Floors! (So excited, so excited, SO EXCITED!!)
There is so much to unpack! This book has a whole lot of revelations, from learning JinYeong’s transformation into a vampire–and the story of his sister which explains why Zero has been careful to (sort of) keep Pet at an arm’s length for anything besides protecting her. We learn that the series’ foes aren’t just the serial killer from book 1, but also Behindkind who seem to be prepping for some sort of coup.
Most importantly, WE LEARNED ATHELAS HAS A BIG SOFT SPOT FOR PET! I just LOVE Athelas’ friendship with Pet! It’s for certain my favorite part of the whole story. (Yes, I have friendship ships, and I will go down with them!)
The soft spot is apparent in a multitude of ways–from the fact that the shadowy foes who captured Athelas used Pet’s appearance to question him, to the fact that it made him really mad that they used her, even to the way you can see each time he “kills” her it makes him more and more upset. (Did anyone else notice that with every time he killed her, he held her more and more gently/closely?)
In a chat with my author friend Kenley Davidson about Athelas and Pet, she theorized that Athelas killed Pet’s parents. (Because the rather…er…gorey way he dismembered those who had captured him is reminiscent of her parents’ deaths.) I have to acknowledge the similarities, but it might just be that fae are violent like that in general. (Though it certainly seems like one of the twisty twists W. R. might pull on us.)
Moving on to Zero, we did see he obviously cares more for his friends than he lets on (or than Athelas believes) based on how worried he was for Athelas. We also saw, for the first time, that he chose Pet’s well being over his friends’ in a rather playful way at the end when he puts that spell on her that zaps JinYeong.
And JinYeong. Don’t even get me started. By the end of the book that vampire has got it BAD for Pet. We see it in the whole book (Buwahahah that kiss was hilarious) I think—I think–he might even possibly be looking at her in more of a romantic sense and less of a pet sense.
Remember last week when we discussed Athelas and Pet talking love and their merry little band? Athelas said JinYeong can love but shouldn’t. At the very end of Between Floors, when Athelas warns Pet as she’s attempting to yank JinYeong’s jacket off so she can clean it, he tells her “It’s more work than it’s worth,” I’m fairly certain he was referring back to his warning that JinYeong shouldn’t love.
And while we’re on that particular line, I’m positive Athelas now loves Pet as well (I don’t think it’s in a romantic sense as much as it is familial or friendship) because when she’s dragging him out and informs him she’s going to forgive him, he tell’s her not to, because it’s not going to do either of them any good. My theory is he knew if she forgive him, she would become that much more important to him. (Which, this is Athelas. Even if he’s fond of Pet he’s not going to enjoy knowing he has a weakness!)
But turning away from the more relationship-driven aspect of the series, after seeing all of Pet’s newest tricks, how many of you think she’s an heirling or a changling? (Or rather an heirling changling? Because she obviously knew nothing about between or behindkind before meeting the trio.) OR!!! As we know because of the werewolves, maybe it’s possible that she’s not fae but an entirely different sort of behindkind?
I’m also very interested to see what happens to the sick girl she met in the apartment building across from Daniel’s…hospital(?) room. “The Kids” might be behindkind? Or something else–there has got to be more to her than meets the eye.
And as a side note, the text message sequence from the detective is quite possibly the most hilarious and life-like thing I have ever read. I had to put the book down and re-read it twice I was laughing so hard. A close second was when Pet was informing Zero she couldn’t possibly go to bed because her owner got back and “us pets get too excited when our owners get home.”
Finally, I wanted to add that this book is my favorite because of Athelas, but it’s also because I am a huge fan of the poem “The Highway Man” by Alfred Noyes, and Between Floors actually contains a key reference to it, which explains some of Athelas’ mutterings while being captive. If you haven’t read The Highway Man you can click here to read it, but the basic premise is that a highway man is in love with a young lady named Bess and visits her at night. Soldiers are told of his presence, so the next night when he would visit, the soldiers are waiting in Bess’ room and tie a musket to her chest. To warn him, Bess fires off the musket, warning off the highwayman and sacrificing her life.
The poem ends in a tragedy–the highwayman finds out about Bess’ death and dies attempting to avenge her–but there is a particular line in the poem “I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!” which particularly applies to Athelas’ situation, considered he his held there by moonlight. (He even recites that specific line of the poem.) This is why he and Pet finally break free when he stabs himself, and why he was so reluctant to do so.
It’s a beautiful part of the story…though I’ll admit I laughed really hard when I asked W. R. how upset Athelas was when he realized that he was Bess–the female love interest–in the story. (The answer: Extremely.) I’ll ask W. R. a few questions about this aspect of Between Floors next week, but here’s a few questions we can chew on in the comments in the meantime:
- Do you think Pet is an heir, a changling, or something else?
- Out of the three books we’ve read so far, what do you think is the funniest line/scene?
- Which of Athelas, Zero, and JinYeong do you think Pet prefers–or even, does she have a preference?
The last question is one I’m especially interested in because I have spent a lot of my time trying to decipher which of the three likes Pet the most, but in writing up this discussion post for you, I realized it never occurred to me to wonder who Pet prefers. I think she’s said in previous books that Zero is her biggest target to ingratiate herself with because he’s most likely to protect her, but she has also said she does lots of extra stuff for Athelas because he will actually tell her information. But I don’t know that either of those acts indicates a preference.
What do you think, Champions?