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Literature / Burying the Shadow

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Together they'll make one woman's life hell to save their people.

"A renegade burned out among the stars last night."

Burying the Shadow is novel by Storm Constantine first published in 1992, written in response to demand for vampire novels without actually giving in and writing a straight vampire novel. The plot follows two protagonists, one an eloim actress named Gimel Metatronim, the other a human woman and soulscaper named Rayojini. For thousands of years the eloim have been living among the humans, bringing them culture and art and philosophy, hiding their true nature. For just as long, the soulscapers have been treating mental and spiritual injuries and illnesses.

But now the eloim are falling victim to an illness called the Fear, which is leading them to commit suicide. Gimel and her brother Beth go seeking a soulscaper to heal their people, but all their attempts with adults fail. They decide then that they need to find a child, which leads them to Rayojini.

Little do any of them know that this matter is bigger than they think.

Burying the Shadow provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Archnemesis Dad: Eloat is Sammael's father. He is, technically, the father of all eloim.
  • Badass Longcoat: Rayojini's favorite coat is fairly long, long enough to get all muddy when trudging through rain.
  • Badass Normal: Rayojini, when not in the soulscape. Part of the whole Walking the Earth part of her job is knowing how to fight well in case of trouble on the road.
  • Batman Gambit: Gimel's plan to train Rayojini to heal the eloim soulscape.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The eloim, as far as most humans are concerned.
  • Beyond the Impossible: No soulscaper has ever healed an eloim. Ultimately in order to heal the eloim, Rayojini has to die and pass into Elenoen. She not only succeeds, she's brought back to life.
  • Black Sheep: Salyon Tricante. As a child, his family barely talks about him when he's ill. As an adult, he's something of an embarrassment.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Gimel and Beth Metatronim.
  • Burn the Witch!: The nomads aren't fond of soulscapers and are known to lynch them if agitated.
  • Child Hater: Both Rayojini and Gimel express a dislike of children.
  • The Clan: The eloim throngs e.g. the Metatronim, the Sarim, the Tartaruchi.
  • Creepy Child: Salyon Tricante
  • Creepy Twins: Perdina and Voile Tricante always struck Rayojini as being more than a little odd as all they seem to do is stay in their room and read strange poetry. Creepiness factor upped by them being women in their mid-twenties.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Rayo is exceptionally powerful, but she pays for that with a life of inexplicable events that lead her to believe she is losing her mind.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Two varieties.
    • Rayojini's eighth birthday is the day of her initiation when Beth and Gimel first come in contact with her.
    • While it isn't her birthday, Rayo is sixteen when Beth takes this to the next level and either seduces or rapes her.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Gimel and Rayojini.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rayojini doesn't know who her father is. And, in part because Taps don't worry much about marriage or legitimacy, she really doesn't care, either. Which is for the best, as it's implied that her mother doesn't know.
  • Dream Land/Mental World: The soulscape consists of both. It is the subconscious of humanity, and also the subconscious mind of individual humans. Not unlike the dream levels in Inception.
  • Dream Weaver: This is pretty much the power of the soulscapers. They heal mental and spiritual injuries and illnesses by manipulating the soulscapes of other people.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Add this onto the Dream Weaver abilities and you get the ability of the scryers.
  • Driven to Suicide: How the Fear manifests in the eloim. The page quote is Gimel's poetic expression of this phenomenon.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Gimel, a natural consequence of being a black-haired eloim.
  • Eldritch Location: Nothing in the soulscape makes sense physically.
  • Ethnic Magician: Q'orveh and the other shamans of the nomad tribes. Possibly the soulscapers and scryers as well.
  • Everyone Can See It: Rayojini wants Q'orveh really, really bad.
  • Fallen Angel: Sammael and the eloim are a retelling of Satan and his fallen angels.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The eloim took on human forms to avoid overwhelming humans by merely existing.
  • Fusion Dance: Actual eloim sex is apparently this, and it is taboo to the ones on Earth. This is also how the Harkasites are formed. At the end, Sammael and Mikha'il fuse to become Sammikha'il.
  • Gambit Pileup: Rayojini and her actions become the focus of a few characters' plots.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Beth Metatronim is a man. No, really. Though this is due to the Theme Naming. Beth in this case doesn't stand for Elizabeth, but for the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet. His sister is named after the third letter, Gimel.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: When a soulscaper looks into an eloim soulscape, they immediately go mad.
  • God Is Evil: More like God refuses to accept that he is screwing up the cycle of the universe.
  • Hermaphrodite: The nomad's god Helat. Revealed later to be Sammael.
  • Humanity Ensues: Sort of. The eloim living on Earth had to take human form to survive and have become increasingly human over generations because they don't remember their home world. This doesn't exactly make them humans, though.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The eloim. Though they try to keep non-patrons from noticing.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "The pale lady rises, the pale lady falls. Up again, up again, smelling out souls."
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: All in a day's work for a soulscaper, but Rayojini takes this up to eleven. Subverted in that it is done with consent.
  • Lady in Red: Hadith Sarim, the first time Rayojini meets her. Incidentally, Rayo is also wearing red at the time, but this mostly serves to highlight the differences between them as sexually experienced woman and virgin.
  • Like a Son to Me: Gimel starts thinking of Rayojini as her own daughter.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did Rayojini hallucinate what happened in Yhkey, or did it actually happen? All such incidents are hinted to have actually happened, though clear answers aren't always given.
  • Mercy Kill: Rayojini is forced to euthanize a boy when she realizes most of his soul is gone already. She's also done this four times in the past.
  • Mind Rape: Gimel and Beth do this, albeit with a very light touch, when they become part of Rayojini's initiation ceremony.
  • Missing Mom: Gimel and Beth haven't seen their mother in decades. Subverted in that neither of them is particularly concerned about this.
  • Mystical White Hair: Hadith Sarim. Being a young-looking woman she shouldn't have white hair. Rayojini realizes something is off, but unable to see through The Masquerade, she can't tell Hadith isn't human.
  • No Biological Sex: The eloim, being a race of angels, are this in their true forms.
  • Oblivious to Love: Rayo is too stubborn to admit that her feelings for Q'orveh are deeper than lust because of their many differences. She realizes the truth too late.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Every one of Rayojini's encounters with Gimel and Beth, the most notable offense being when Beth rapes her.
  • Our Angels Are Different/Our Vampires Are Different: The eloim are spiritual beings that require human blood to maintain human form.
  • Parental Incest: Metatron has apparently taken Gimel to his bed hoping to sire a child on her. Gimel hints that Metatron has sex with Beth, too.
  • Parental Neglect: Rayojini's mother more or less trusts Rayo to raise herself. They actually probably work best that way.
  • Plot Allergy: Salyon is deathly allergic to eloim bites. It spurs plot.
  • Power Tattoo: A variation, involving dyeing the teeth. Soulscapers dye their teeth cyclamen pink. Scryers dye their teeth indigo.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: This is a Fallen Angel story after all.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The eloim, to the point that they have an elaborate system of who is put in public view when to keep humans from catching on.
  • Satan Is Good: Sammael actually deeply cares for both humanity and his own people and only wants to overthrow Eloat because it's his duty.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: The soulscape and the healing thereof have been carefully studied and are not thought of as magical in nature. At least the soulscapers disdain the idea that they work magic.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Beth and Gimel kill thirteen soulscapers before they find Rayojini.
  • Training from Hell: Normal soulscaper training is implied to be this, but Gimel put extra pressure on Rayojini.
  • Tree Top Town: Taparak, which is built into a petrified forest. The community does start at ground level, however the more affluent a person is, the closer they live to the sky.
  • Truly Single Parent: Eloat and Sammael. Averted with other eloim as they are taught to reproduce like humans.
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Salyon has been sickly (and a little touched in the head) since Rayojini's mother healed him as a child.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Both Mikha'il and Sammael have such a wound over the heart.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Thoughtforms are haunts created by strong emotion and they usually take the form of the local superstition. Essentially, if you believe your house is haunted, your house is haunted.