Beyond Here Lies Nothing

When Chloe Neill Ripped My Heart Out Of My Chest and Crushed It With Her Bare Hands (& then made it all better.)

I love authors. I love the words they write, the characters they create for us to love and hate. The power of the feelings they convey through those words and characters. And the way they transport me to a world so different from my own, I can't help but be mesmerized by it. One thing I don't love so much (but... like a true masochist, I love to hate) is their power over me. With just a few words, they can turn my life upside down, rip apart the threads that kept my sanity together, tear down the walls I built around my vulnerable heart over and over again, and basically crush me like a flower rusted from the rain. (Hey, I'm not being THAT dramatic; it's a song!) 

How some books and authors make me feel

There are spoilers for Hard Bitten, Drink Deep, and Biting Cold ahead. Please don't keep reading if you don't want to spoil the very amazing Chicagoland Vampires series for yourself! You've been warned!

No one, of late, has done this better than the amazing Chloe Neill. I have named her a magician with words in one of my previous posts and I'll say it again. I had forgotten just how intensely devastating a book could be, how hard it could make me want to cry (or just cry), and how keenly I would feel the loss written down in those stark, cruel words. The pen truly is mightier than the sword. A sword would cut me, make me bleed, and either go deep enough to kill me or shallow enough to let me heal with a scar to show for it. With her pen, Chloe Neill cut me deep, punched me in the gut, smacked me hard across the face with her unforgiving ammo ... words. Then she ran me over with her vehicle of choice, her book (and then reversed to run over my twitching body again). Not to mention those damn paper cuts I got because I was frantically turning pages to see if it gets better, if maybe everything was a terrible nightmare.

Initial reaction...

...and then this

Hard Bitten was going well. I was an unsuspecting victim. I was NOT prepared for what I was about to encounter. Not in a million years would I have guessed what Ms. Neill was about to do. I was just getting in gear for an epic Ethan and Merit hookup, or Ethan at his courting best. 
If "just" is all you can give me now, then "just" is what we'll do.
Merit was finally opening up to the idea of Ethan actually being sorry and changing. Yes, I'm not a moron, I figured the path would be paved with obstacles. But I was going to relish the oh-so-sweet journey. I'm a huge fan of the slow burn. So I was patiently reading, totally engrossed in the book. Then we were in Tate's office, Celina was off her meds (or on something else, so to speak), and she lunged at Merit .................................................

Without a pause, and with the speed of a centuries-old vampire, Ethan threw himself forward, his torso in front of mine, blocking the stake from hitting my body. He took the hit full on, the stake bursting through his chest. For a moment, time stopped, and Ethan looked back at me, his green eyes tight with pain. And then he was gone, the stake clattering to the ground in front of me. Ethan replaced by — transformed to — nothing more than a pile of ash on the floor.

.....and horror
Gone. Ethan was gone. Irreversibly gone. A pile of motherfucking ashes. How on earth was I to deal with that? Process that? Live with that? Go on living life knowing Ethan had been staked and was a pile of ash, soon to disintegrate into nothingness? Knowing there would be no more epic Merit/Ethan scenes? I just couldn't wrap my head around that. I went back and read that paragraph, that chapter, several times. Looking for clues that what I read was just a bad dream... or masterful misdirection. I went through those lines a hundred times, with a fine-tooth comb. I was in denial.

But it was final. There was no going back. No pretending I hadn't just been delivered a fatal blow at the hands of someone I had trusted implicitly. I just could not process it, my mind and heart rebelled at the thought that the CLV world, hell ... MY world, could go on without Ethan. The Wenches will remember my heartbreak. Merit's dream-turned-nightmare with Ethan screaming out her name was burned into my soul. 
My eyes were still closed when he screamed my name. Merit! I woke gasping, thunder booming as rain pelted the window. I jumped out of bed and threw on the light, positive the voice I’d heard — his voice — had come from inside my room. It had seemed so real. He had seemed so real. But my room was empty.

The anguish Merit must have felt, I felt just as strongly. I didn't even want to pick up Drink Deep. I actually couldn't bring myself to for a couple of days. Can I just take this moment to thank my fellow Wenches for gently talking me through this difficult time? I love you gals.

Pretty damn much... I handled Hard Bitten
Eventually, I gathered the strength and courage to pick up Drink Deep. Let's just say, things did NOT look any better. Jonah? Complimentary magic? Say WHAT?! And those TERRIBLE dreams Merit was having. Malik in Ethan's office (not his fault, I know, but it just hurt). Basically, everyone was moving on ... life was going forward ... and I was still mourning, like poor Merit. And also a little angry. That Ethan had been so brutally taken away from us, from Merit, from Cadogan House.


But I had to give it to Ms. Neill, I still couldn't put the book down. I was still heavily invested. I still adored Merit. And the ultimate betrayal she was dealing with, while still trying to help her city and her House. I felt Merit's pain at Mallory's betrayal, the revelation that she stole Ethan's ashes, to turn him into the ultimate familiar ... it was devastating. And I had to wonder, what on earth would happen next!? 

And then this happened:

A dark figure moved through the blue haze across the Midway, approaching us. The hair at the back of my neck stood on end... {{snip}}
And when the fog cleared, brilliant green eyes stared back at me....
Tears sprang to my eyes. My knees suddenly trembling, I ran toward him....
"I don't know what to say," I told him.
"Then don't," he said, embracing me again. "Be still."

Tears of sweet, sweet joy!!

I was in tears. Again. Like at the end of Hard Bitten, but for a completely different reason. I was happy. Ecstatic. Relieved. So many emotions were running through me. I was overwhelmed. Just like that, within a few pages! Chloe Neill had set my world back on its axis. Yes, I was worried about the side effects, but it just felt so damn good to have Ethan back. And smiling. 

Drink Deep ended on a fairly positive note regarding Merit & Ethan, and I love Ms. Neill for that. Biting Cold came next, and once again, she made me so happy. All my Hard Bitten tears were worth this amazing journey. And all was as it should be in my beloved CLV world. 

We got rid of those tears after Drink Deep ;)

I think all of us who love to read are masochists when it comes to these stories that ensnare us. We relish every second of the crazy whirlwind the authors put us through. And it is ALL worth it when we come out the other end knowing things are where we want them to be. Or are going where we want them to. So I will end this dramatic (and honest — this really is how I felt) post on a thank you. To the amazing Chloe Neill. For taking me on the journey of a lifetime. For making me fall so in love with her leads that I felt each and every raw emotion they felt like it was my own. For making me LIVE her books, and making it all worth it. Is it any wonder I can't wait for the next installments? I just know they will be fan-f***ing-tastic!

What about you, Saucy readers? Did you feel the same when it came to these books? Are there any other books that made you feel like this? Share with us!

*all gifs are from tumblr


  1. Lol Zee, I remember that devastating time!just browsed through Sookieversblog's comments about that part,I wrote:"I read the last few pages through a blurry curtain of tears..." there were angry comments,some stopped reading. I wrote: "I want to believe that CN knows her creation, so far she has been a really good story teller so I choose to believe her solution will be credible." I think it did. Wonderful post.

    1. Thanks Merit :) you all got me through the books honestly! I still remember Barb, Kathi, you, Vale, Beta and Inga talking me through it!

  2. I hope you feel better now, Zee! I love that you can help us look back and laugh at all that angst we went through when we read these books. ;-)

    I didn’t start the series until I’d seen the emotional implosion from others who had already started. So I managed to remain unspoiled, but I knew something would be devastating, and I knew it would get better if I kept on reading. I remember reading the Sookieverseblog CLV thread after I was done with the books, seeing the anticipation build for Hard Bitten, seeing the fallout (direct quote of the first response to HB: “ARE YOU F*ING KIDDING ME??????????”), and I think you’re right, Merit, several gals swore they would not read any more CLV books until the series was done and they knew could trust Chloe Neill again. I wonder whether they’ve forgiven her yet… She has totally redeemed herself in my eyes, but I did not have to suffer through months of waiting for Drink Deep!!

    1. Thanks Kathi!! Hehe, yeah, I figured looking back humorously would be an interesting post :p clearly I didn't realize just how dramatic I could be.

      Shockingly, I had NO clue what was going to happen from anything anyone said. It was the book itself. Ethan kept talking about having nothing but time to woo Merit and THAT was making me nervous. But I did not see that pile of ash coming... seriously... how do you come back from that, right? But Chloe Neill did it! And I love her for it!

  3. This post resume all my feelings! Great job Z.

  4. Loved the post Zee, I feel your pain. Just how I felt about it, but Drink Deep hadn't even come out (and wouldn't be for months) when I read it. I was crying so bloody hard, I just couldn't believe she would kill Ethan of all characters. It took me a lllooonnngggg time to start DD at last.

    1. Thanks Inga! And yeah, I can imagine! *hugs* for getting through the wait between the books! I can't even begin to imagine how hard it was!

  5. Boy, do I remember these feelings. You perfectly summarized the emotions I experienced when I read *that* part. The gifs you selected make me laugh now but at the time it sure wasn't very funny. Going through the CLV thread at SVB now, with hindisght, is interesting. I clung to Chloe's "trust me" plea like a drowning woman and I'm so glad that I kept reading.

    But yeah, Jonah? Pfft! Dude please! When your kiss sends a woman to the bed of her deceased lover just so that she can smell him, it doesn't bode well for you. Just sayin'.

    1. Thank you!! And yeah, it SO wasn't funny at the time... in the least. I almost didn't keep reading. Picked up Drink Deep and all the Jonah stuff made me nauseous! But boy am I glad I read on!!

      And VERY good point about Jonah's kiss btw! ;)


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