Welcome back to Eldritch Girl…
Today we start Chapter 4: The Call of the Wild, in which Ricky goes for a winter walk, and he and Carrie have a heart-to-heart…
CWs: very strong language [includes use of c-word, for US listeners], casual attitude to random killing, troubled/complicated domestic dynamics, calling out controlling behaviour.
“I’m not sure I like this.” Carrie tossed her ponytail, teasing the fabric of her hair into individual strands with her stiff, cold fingers. “You’re getting a bit power-drunk.”~ C. M. Rosens, Thirteenth, p. 115
He stiffened, chest lurching, like the time Gran had caught him climbing up her shelves to get at the gingerbread jar.
“No I ain’t.”
Carrie paused. “Is this you trying to bond with a member of your family you don’t actually hate?”
He shrugged, looking away. The cellar was swept clean, and apart from the dresser there was nothing else there. A quick sweep of the walls showed him something had climbed up them recently, within the last few months, tracking small, smudged prints across the ceiling.
“You abducted her because you wanted a chance to chat, didn’t you?”
“That don’t sound like me.”
Ricky is struggling to figure out what Carrie is upset about in this chapter, and also hasn’t the first idea how to talk to Katy, so his solution is to make a deal with one (even though he doesn’t really understand why her terms are important to her) and spy on the other. It also involves going to Wundorwick, where Beverley Wend lived, and investigating the shrine in her cellar.
At this point, Ricky is coming to terms with his limitations and although he’s a family god, that really hasn’t changed anything. He may be more powerful than any of them now, but the power imbalance just means he’s been throwing his weight around and gathering tributes from them without actually doing anything. As Carrie reminds him in this exchange, he doesn’t know how to relate to people very well, and he doesn’t really know how to go about fixing it.
He also doesn’t know how to identify his own emotions, so when he feels guilt (for example – as above), he doesn’t immediately recognise it or know why. Being around Katy (17) is making him think more about his own teenage/childhood experiences, and that’s not comfortable for him.
Getting Ricky to work out emotions like guilt and fear and accepting them for what they are/learning how to cope with them is something that gets explored more in this book, and there’s not an easy solution to this but sets up a slow character development arc. In The Crows you saw Ricky the ascetic who thought he was in control all the time, and in this one you see how completely not true that is, and what happens when the asceticism isn’t necessary anymore, and what his default coping strategies (see: numbing, suppression, self-medication, oblivion) are. You got glimpses of his disordered eating in The Crows and this picks up on that more – another thing that he just hasn’t addressed at all since becoming a god.
This section leads into a memory extracted from the cottage walls by Carrie, and next time we’ll see what Katy was up to in the summer with her best friends Rachel and Rocket.