Word gets around fast that Ethan is hanging out with creepy Old Man Ravenwood's niece.
Ethan's not fazed. He tries to convince Lena to eat lunch with him in the cafeteria with the rest of the basketball team, but it doesn't work out.
Outside the convenience store, "the second-prettiest girl [Ethan] had ever seen" (10.09.30) pulls up in a black-and-white convertible Mini Cooper. She's wearing dark sunglasses, a short skirt, and a tiny tank top. Cue new girl music.
Between suggestive sucks on a cherry-red lollipop, she introduces herself as Ridley, Lena's cousin. Ridley says she's been sent to pick up Ethan and take him to the Gathering Days festivities at Ravenwood.
Stranger danger, Ethan!
Ethan is not that street smart, though, so he leads Ridley right to Ravenwood.
The residents of Ravenwood don't seem happy to see her. Time for an awkward (and confusing) family reunion. Feel free to scope out the "Characters" section to learn who everyone is first. We'll wait.
Okay, ready? Ridley's mother, Delphine, calls Ridley Julia at first. Wait, why doesn't she know her own daughter's name?
We also meet Ryan, Ridley's younger sister, and Ridley conjures up a mouse wearing a cape to entertain her. Sure, why not?
Ryan, excited to see her older sister, runs and leaps into her arms. But something causes her to freeze in mid-air, "like one of those cartoon characters that accidentally jumps off a cliff and just hangs there for a few seconds" (10.09.87).
And then the poor girl crashes to the ground.
It seems Uncle Macon used some of his power to keep Ryan from touching Ridley.
Not even the dog, Boo Radley, likes Ridley. He growls at her. Was there anyone else he growled at this way?
We find out that Ridley couldn't have entered Ravenwood without an escort. Smooth move, Ethan.
Everything is super tense at dinner, and lots of foreign terms are mentioned for the first time. So we interrupt this program for a vocab lesson:
(1) Claimed: Ridley was claimed on her sixteenth birthday and she turned Dark. This must be what Lena is afraid of.
(2) Bound: In this instance, bound seems to mean a place under a protection spell, like the kind that failed to keep Ridley out.
(3) Dark Caster: Well, that just doesn't sound good, does it?
Ridley looks at Ethan and removes her Mary-Kate Olsen shades. Her eyes are gold and slitted, like a cat's. Her bone structure seems to shift beneath her skin. Creepy.
When Ridley grabs Ethan, he starts to go cold and slowly loses consciousness. This can't end well.
While paralyzed, Ethan hears a few more confusing terms from the Caster dictionary:
(4) The Order of Things: This one seems pretty self-explanatory.
(5) Binding it to the Light: Not the same as "Blinded by the Light." This is what Macon tried—and failed—to do to keep Ridley, a Dark Caster, out.
(6) Natural: Is Lena a baseball legend like Robert Redford? Unlikely. This seems to be the Caster name for Lena's controlling-nature-and-the-weather power.
(7) Cataclyst: We'll toss it to Ridley who kindly defines this one for us: "A Cataclyst is a Natural gone Dark, two sides of the same coin" (10.09.188).
(You writing these down? There will be a quiz later.)
Lena gets fed up with Ridley and causes a hurricane-sized storm. Windows shatter. Glass breaks. Rain pours inside. A literal tornado sucks Ridley right out of the house. Nicely done, Lena.
And to top it off, there's some yelling involved: "Get the hell away from my boyfriend, witch" (10.09.199). Eek—Lena sounds kind of like Ripley, the Sigourney Weaver character who uttered a similar line to a fearsome alien queen.
At that, Ethan passes out. Or who knows, maybe he just swoons because Lena called him her boyfriend.