➤ Content warnings (click to show)
major character death(s), precanon loss of loved ones, grief & guilt, animal deaths (cat, cows), alcoholic parent, non-graphic murder & violence, anxiety attack, ableist language, past suicide, mention of overdose, mention of possible-drowning, mention of fatal car crash, mention of relationship with large age gap, mention of infidelity, mention of blackmail
This is going to be a story about the Lynch brothers.
It is October and something is coming.
Declan calls a mystery telephone number. The caller identifies him as “The Lynch boy?” He says that he wants “the key” and hangs up.
“Creatures of all kinds had begun to fall asleep.”
The Moderators — Lock, Ramsay, Nikolenko, and Farooq-Lane — have just killed a Zed (dreamer), Caomhán Browne. Outside his house, they find and kill another Zed: Nathan Farooq-Lane.
It is November. The Lynch brothers take a road trip so that Ronan can look at rental properties in Cambridge, near Harvard (near Adam Parrish). Declan gets a mystery text, of which Ronan sees only “The key is—”. Ronan has his first dream involving Bryde.
At a party, Jordan (in the guise of Hennessy) shows off her forgery skills with a deed “signed” by one Breck Myrtle. Unfortunately, her portfolio does not gain her an invite to the Fairy Market; Bernadette Feinman says she is “too qualified” and “meant for originals.”
Ronan and Adam are reunited at Harvard. They play Repo with the Crying Club.
On her way home via London Heathrow, Farooq-Lane is supposed to be done with the Moderators, but Lock calls and talks her into one more mission. Nikolenko tells her to take Parsifal Bauer to find a Zed and a replacement Visionary in DC.
Ronan dreams of Bryde and of his (Ronan’s) forest, Lindenmere. Bryde pontificates on the nature of reality and sets Ronan on a quest, beginning with “Ask your brother about the Fairy Market.” Ronan finds out from Lindenmere that Bryde is also a dreamer.
Though he only intended to bring back a motorcycle for Adam, Ronan ends up bringing back everything else from his dream — including murder crabs — an error he attributes to Bryde’s interference.
Ronan ends up banned from the Harvard campus due to the damage caused to the dorm while dispatching the murder crabs.
Breck Myrtle, Jeff Pick, and Jeff Robinson break in to steal Hennessy’s forgeries to sell at the Fairy Market. They are caught and escorted out by six girls who all look exactly like Hennessy; Jordan takes Myrtle’s Fairy Market invitation.
Post-Harvard, Ronan is settling into a routine that Declan made him write down (with *additions by Declan):
7:07 A.M.: WAKE UP, ASSHOLE. YOU’RE ALIVE.
7:15 A.M.: GET DRESSED AND SHAVE THAT BEAUTIFUL BALD HEAD.
7:45 A.M.: THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY.
8:00 A.M.: FEED ANIMALS.
9:30 A.M.: REPAIR BARNS OR HOUSE.
12:00 P.M.: LUNCH @ THAT WEIRD GAS STATION.
1:30 P.M.: RONAN LYNCH’S MARVELOUS DREAM EMPORIUM.
6:00 P.M.: DRIVE AROUND.
7:15 P.M.: NUKE SOME DINNER, YO.
7:30 P.M.: MOVIE TIME.
11:00 P.M.: TEXT PARRISH.
*11:30 P.M.: GO TO BED.
*MONDAY: LAUNDRY & GROCERY.
*TUESDAY: TEXT OR CALL GANSEY.
A text from Gansey gets him out of bed. He tests a dreamt blanket, part of his project of waking comatose dreamthings. Declan calls about “a very troubling parent-teacher conference” he just had about Matthew.
Ronan meets his brothers at Great Falls for burritos. Declan explains Matthew’s teachers’ concerns: he’s been missing assignments, leaving class, sitting on the roof “looking at the river.” Ronan answers a call from Adam. Ronan asks Declan about the Fairy Market and is invited to see it for himself.
Jordan and Hennessy forge Fairy Market invites, based on the one they took from Breck Myrtle.
Farooq-Lane and Parsifal have been locked into a battle of wills for the past few days as they pursue his last vision, about the Fairy Market.
Ronan and Declan, Hennessy and Jordan and the other girls, Farooq-Lane (and Parsifal waiting in the car) converge at the Carter Hotel, current site of the Fairy Market, which is abuzz with whispers about Bryde.
At some point, Declan pauses by Jordan’s painting exhibition — copying John Singer Sargent’s Street in Venice, establishing an alibi for Hennessy — and strikes up a conversation about art; she makes him laugh (genuinely!) and he leaves her his business card.
Declan and Ronan find The Dark Lady. Declan negotiates the price but stops short of giving his name and zip code for it; Ronan has no such caution.
Farooq-Lane is identified as a fed and chased out of the Fairy Market; Parsifal serves as getaway driver.
Hennessy calls Jordan to say that the painting they were after has been bought by someone matching Declan’s description: “Young. Twenties. Dark hair, blue eyes. Brooklyn said he had full on blue eyes.”
On their way out, Ronan and Declan see a woman with Aurora’s face and the Dark Lady’s stance. Ronan gives chase but loses her, though he does pick up a Boudicca calling card.
Ronan dreams of the Dark Lady’s shore, to which he adds happy dolphins. Bryde says that Ronan will end up in the same place whether he decides to chase Bryde or the woman with his mother’s face. At breakfast, Declan confirms that he dreamt of an Irish sea and cautions Ronan not to chase the lead. Matthew points out nightwash under Ronan’s nose.
Instead of driving promptly back to the Barns to dream, Ronan returns to the Carter Hotel, which has been burned down. In the parking lot he sees a white sedan — the driver is the woman who looks like Aurora and in the passenger seat is a man who looks like Ronan. Ronan gives chase in his BMW, following them into a cul-de-sac where he is overtaken by the nightwash.
Parsifal is not in good shape, but he has a new vision that leads him and Farooq-Lane to the Carter Hotel. He points out tire tracks, which according to his vision were made by a gray BMW; Farooq-Lane opens a map app and finds the cul-de-sac from his vision.
Farooq-Lane and Parsifal find and then lose the BMW when they get distracted by a white sedan colliding with their rental car.
After a nightmare of dying, Ronan wakes up in his own backseat with a broken sword hilt reading VEXED TO NIGHTMARE. He realizes that Bryde saved his mind and the pair in the white sedan saved his body.
Jordan points out nightwash on Hennessy’s face. After a debate, the girls decide to steal The Dark Lady from Declan by swapping it for a copy, as they’d originally planned to do at the Fairy Market.
Parsifal takes only one bite before rejecting the Bienenstich specially made for him by Pfeiffer’s German Pastry Shoppe, Farooq-Lane’s attempt to make his life a little less miserable. It tastes nothing like his mother’s, which is what he’d confessed to wanting (knowing he couldn’t have it).
At a gas station thirty minutes outside DC, Liliana gets a ride from Shawna Wells. Liliana’s vision catches Shawna and her husband Darren in the blast.
Ronan makes it back to the Barns. He texts then calls Adam, who seconds Declan’s caution.
“I’m just saying. Go slow. If you wait for break, I can help, maybe.”
Ronan did not want to go slow. He felt like this was a candle that might burn out if he waited too long.
“I just want to know,” Adam said finally, in a slightly different voice from before, “that when I come for break, you’ll be there.”
“I’ll be here.” He was always here. Double-sided murder crabs had made sure of it.
“In one piece.”
“In one piece.”
“I know you,” Adam said, but he didn’t add anything else, nothing about what knowing Ronan meant.
Deciding that he can go slow, Ronan begins by looking at photos from his parents’ bedroom. He confirms that his mother looked “softer” than the woman in the portrait, the woman in the white sedan. At the bottom of the photo box, he finds a photo of his father around Ronan’s current age and realizes this is the other face he saw in the sedan.
Jordan walks into the National Gallery of Art and greets Declan. They flirt by showing off how much they’ve found out about each other, including Declan’s dead father and Hennessy’s dead mother, art and violence. (As far as Declan knows, there is only one Jordan Hennessy and he’s talking to her.) Declan gives Jordan a jar of Tyrian purple, a very rare and costly gift. She agrees to see him again, despite both of their better judgment.
Later, Declan discovers that there’s nothing hidden under the backing paper of The Dark Lady. (It’s been switched out for Hennessy’s copy, though he doesn’t know this yet.)
Another vision leads Farooq-Lane and Parsifal to MARY’S ODDS ‘N’ ENDS, COME ON IN. Mary turns out to be a lovely older lady who offers them homemade biscotti that Parsifal actually eats. Farooq-Lane feels obligated to call it in even though this Zed is clearly harmless.
Ronan is restless, his search of the Barns fruitless. He hears an intruder and grabs the gun from Declan’s room; it turns out to be Adam.
Adam asks what he needs to say to allay Ronan’s lingering suspicions, leading a ramble about his outfit — leather jacket thrifted by Gillian, motorcycle helmet from Fletcher, gardening gloves from his proctor — and “Ronan, I know you” said “just the same way he’d said it on the phone the night before.” He wishes Ronan a happy (early) birthday.
Adam scrys, with Ronan as his anchor, after admitting that he’s hesitant because “Something’s changed. There’s something enormous, it feels like, watching us.” (Bryde?)
Nine and a half minutes in, Adam screams, then abruptly stops breathing.
Ronan brings him back using a dreamt talon knife. Terrified but now awake, Adam says that the something can’t be Bryde “because whatever it is, it’s afraid of him.”
Following his author event at 10Fox, Jason Morgenthaler is approached by Liliana, who is looking for the painter of a work labeled River Scene by Joe Jones. He can’t help her.
Ronan sees Adam off then returns to make dream contact with Bryde.
After stalling as long as she can, Hennessy finally falls asleep, with Jordan for company.
Ronan dreams of Lindenmere and Bryde, who sends him to save “another dreamer” who is dying.
Jordan wakes to a flooding bathroom and a still-asleep Hennessy. The new copy appears and immediately begins helping get Hennessy to safety, but the door won’t open. Then it’s broken down by Ronan, armed with a tire iron. The copy is dead.
Ronan reveals that he is also a dreamer. He discovers The Dark Lady but thinks it’s a copy; Jordan considers giving it back, then has an idea and challenges Ronan to prove his dreaming prowess.
He does so with a version of The Dark Lady but with Hennessy’s face and tattoos; unlike the painted copy that took the girls hours to finish, it has “the same magnetic, otherworldly desire that the original had.”
Jordan, June, and the others explain their situation to Ronan.
Ronan confronts Hennessy, sure that it’s not actually the copies killing her — previously Ronan dreamed a copy of himself, sacrificed to night horrors so the original Ronan could escape (with evidence to blackmail Colin Greenmantle: see Blue Lily, Lily Blue). Hennessy believes that it’s the dream killing her; Ronan disagrees, but she refuses his help.
Parsifal is being especially difficult; Farooq-Lane realizes this is retaliation for reporting the Zed. Lock calls to say he’s sending Nikolenko and/or Ramsay to follow up. When Farooq-Lane lashes out, Parsifal calmly gets out of the car to walk back to the hotel.
After a phone call from his school, Declan finds Matthew in a daze at Great Falls. Observing the similar state of Ronan’s other dreamthings leads Matthew to realize he is one of them.
Ronan meets his brothers at St. Eithne, but their zoo plans for his birthday are off in the face of Matthew’s crisis about being a dream and finding out both his brothers lied to him about it.
Jordan and Hennessy have a fight over Hennessy’s refusal to ask Ronan for help. Jordan storms off without getting a flower tattoo to match Hennessy’s newest one.
Farooq-Lane can’t find Parsifal. She ignores a call from Lock. Through the night, she drives around looking for him.
Mags and Olly Harmonhouse wake in the middle of the night by what turns out to be Liliana crying, an unsettling sound. She tries to send them away, but is not in time to save them from her vision.
Jordan picks up Declan at a 24-hour convenience store at 1 a.m. In the passenger seat is The Dark Lady, which Declan immediately recognizes as the original. They agree not to talk about the switch or about Niall.
In an empty Georgetown rental that Jordan uses as a studio, Declan sits for her first original and tells her about letters from the people who sat for Sargent.
The moment is interrupted by a please come home ☹ text from Matthew.
Jordan scrapes the painting, as Declan said Sargent was known to do, so that “[he’ll] have to come back for another sitting.”
Dabney Pitts has put Liliana in an unplugged freezer after finding Mags & Olly in poor shape.
Ronan has another Bryde dream; at some point he returns to the Dark Lady’s shore, indicating Declan has brought the original home.
“What does a dream want?”
Ronan opened his eyes. “To live without their dreamer.”
Bryde offers the next box:
“Next box,” Bryde said, “rabbits are coming to you. Next box. Are you ready?”
Ronan held out his arms on either side. I’m here, aren’t I?
Bryde said, “You have been waiting for me; she has been waiting for you. When she stretches out her arm, answer the call. Remember that hawks have talons.”
Ronan wakes up in Declan’s guest room.
His phone is ringing. He picks up.
Ronan meets Hennessy at the Shenandoah Café. After a lot of stalling, a few false starts, Ronan matter-of-factly explaining his scars from night horrors, Hennessy eventually tells Ronan about her recurring dream. About the Lace.
Ronan mentions that Adam saw something similar and hypothesizes that it might be Hennessy’s subconscious. He notes that Bryde can’t be his subconscious because Bryde knows things Ronan doesn’t (e.g., Hennessy needing help); Hennessy retorts that the Lace apparently knows Ronan’s boyfriend.
Hennessy explains that she has to bring something back from the dream, hence the copies of herself, which surprises Ronan since he can dream without bringing things back.
At long last, Farooq-Lane finds Parsifal by a trash bin behind a strip mall. Parsifal is half his teenage self and half his younger self — he stopped the vision because it was his last one and wanted to make sure Farooq-Lane saw it: “The vision will be important to you. […] Someone important to you.”
After sharing the vision he entreats her to hurry then dies.
Declan notes over breakfast that Matthew is uncharacteristically and concerningly subdued. When Matthew spirals about not being a “real” Lynch brother, Declan has him cut the backing paper off The Dark Lady (the original, not the copy).
They find a Boudicca card; on the back is an Irish phone number and The New Fenian in Niall’s handwriting. Declan reveals that Mór Ó Corra, not Aurora, is his mother.
Farooq-Lane follows the clues from Parsifal’s final vision and finds Liliana.
Declan and Jordan are on another “date”, seeking out Boudicca.
Their contact turns out to be the new Fenian, a twenty-year-old copy of Niall, who warns them off continuing to seek out Mór Ó Corra, of continuing to look into Boudicca lest they expose Ronan.
Hennessy and Ronan are at Lindenmere. Ronan texts MANAGEMENT, aka Adam, in case “days” go by. With Opal to assist, they prepare to dream.
Farooq-Lane and Liliana meet Ramsay at the old Zed’s house; Ramsay has already killed Mary. After several gross comments, Farooq-Lane loses her temper and punches Ramsay. This gets Liliana on board to “follow [her] anywhere.”
Lindenmere manifests Hennessy’s dream: finding her mother at the moment of her suicide, creating a Hennessy copy that Ronan has Lindenmere get rid of. And again. And again.
Finally Opal suggests calling on Bryde.
Bryde’s voice joins them. He catches Ronan trying to find him and warns against it:
“If you see me, it means everything’s changed for you. You can’t really go back from meeting me. I wouldn’t take you from your life. And so, this close, no closer. That is the closest you can get without things changing.”
“What happened to skip to the center?” But Ronan didn’t try to look around the trees again.
“I don’t know,” Bryde said. “I don’t know anymore. I don’t know if I want your life to change.”
It was clear from Ronan’s face that he did. He was master of this tremendous place, dreamer of dreams, and still he wanted more.
Hennessy could understand that. […]
She spoke up. “I need mine to change.”
Bryde challenges them to prove they can work together, then to find him together. “But remember what I said. Oh — no. No. The world is going to shit.” And he’s gone.
Hennessy steels herself and dreams of the Lace.
Declan, uncharacteristically, brings Jordan home. He shows her the bland town house, then the art in the attic.
Jordan lets on that she knows Niall was a dreamer and slips into a daze, which clues in Declan that she’s a dream.
Farooq-Lane and Liliana drive to a farm to minimize casualties from Liliana’s vision; cows, but no people, are caught in the blast.
Declan drives Jordan home.
Jordan senses that something’s wrong. Inside, Trinity bleeds out in the middle of the floor. Brooklyn is dead on the sofa. Madox is dead on the back staircase.
Jordan follows the blasting music to the kitchen. June shouts to get down; a fight ensues with two attackers (a woman and a man), and Declan jumps in too. June shoots the man and tells Jordan to run, warns Declan that they’re after Ronan, is shot by the woman.
Declan and Jordan run to save Matthew.
Hennessy is saved from the Lace by Ronan and Lindenmere’s intervention. She hasn’t brought back a copy. Opal tends to her gently and incomprehensibly.
Ronan suggests “Armor and then something else, like a shield, something you could bring back with you that’s not yourself, until you learn how to not bring things back every time you dream.” Hennessy thinks it’s beyond her, so Ronan proposes he join her in the dream to help.
Hennessy mourns that “Everything I dream turns to shit”; Ronan counters by bringing up Jordan.
Eventually Hennessy manages a “tiny golden light,” a beacon of hope.
Ronan’s phone rings: it’s Declan, stuck in traffic, still too far away to save Matthew. Desperately Ronan asks Lindenmere for help, and together they manifest a pack of sundogs.
An hour and thirty-eight minutes later, Ronan and Hennessy finally make it to Alexandria. The town house is totally destroyed, with STOP DREAMING “painted across the wall that used to hold family photos.”
Chainsaw finds Matthew and Declan in the attic with Jordan, hiding from the sundogs. Ronan remembers Lindenmere’s instructions and uncaps a water bottle, into which the sundogs are absorbed.
Lock assesses the situation. Liliana has given them spectacular intel on “two entirely separate Zeds in two entirely different locations” but, like many Visionaries, wants to quit in the aftermath of all the violence. He offers her home-like accommodations and a Moderator companion; she thinks the offer over and asks for Farooq-Lane.
Ronan, Matthew, Declan, Jordan, and Hennessy regroup at the Shenandoah Café. Adam hasn’t texted or called back. Blue (“SARGENTO”) calls Ronan to pass on information from Mr. Gray about the Moderators killing dreamers, and an attack in South Africa simultaneous to the attack on the town house.
Ronan and Hennessy realize that Bryde knew: “The world’s going to shit.” Despite Declan’s and Jordan’s protests, they are determined to seek out Bryde.
Matthew wants to be involved and not to have to “pretend” anymore, so Declan decides the two of them will go to the Barns. Hennessy entreats Jordan to go with the brothers; initially she insists on staying with Hennessy, but ultimately relents.
At Great Falls, the dream crew has said their farewells and split up. Ronan checks his phone again: nothing from Adam, last text unread.
Ronan and Hennessy hold hands and dream of the Lace. Ronan remembers the broken hilt from earlier; it transforms into a sun sword. He finds Hennessy, who is wielding a moon-and-stars sword. They ward off the Lace and call Bryde.
Having brought back their matching swords, Hennessy and Ronan are paralyzed. Bryde finally makes his physical appearance, standing between them and the approaching crowd of Moderators.
Farooq-Lane tries to propose an alliance but is metaphorically shot down by both sides.
Hennessy and Ronan draw their dream swords, cloaking themselves and Bryde in bright light (sunlight from Ronan’s VEXED TO NIGHTMARE, moonlight from Hennessy’s FROM CHAOS). Bryde has a hoverboard like the one Ronan dreamed in Adam’s dorm; the three of them climb on.
When the light cleared, the dreamers were gone.
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