Becky asked a fantastic question using the “Ask Me Anything” submission form. Her question does contain a spoiler for Blood and Other Matter, so continue at your own risk.
You have been warned. On to the question.
How does Tess come back to life at the end of “Blood and Other Matter”? I just finished the book and don’t know if I understand how she came back. Her body was cremated, so she shouldn’t have a physical form. Does the demon still have control over her in some way? What did the Estrie mean by; ‘that forms a powerful connection that, for obvious reasons, doesn’t often get explored’? Please help me understand because I love she’s back, but just don’t understand the how. Thank you!
First of all, Becky, thank you for reading Blood and Other Matter. That’s a great question, and I’ll do my best to answer it. 🙂
The ending was intended to be a bit open ended, but the happiest interpretation is by far that Tess is back, alive and kicking. There’s a few key things in the scene and the story that allow that to be possible within the rules of the ritual, in-world magic, and the timing in the story.
Let’s start with that connection. According to the Estrie, there’s a connection that forms between a person who dies and the last person they think of. Typically, one half of that party stays dead, so it doesn’t much matter, but in Tess’s case, she thought of Derrick before being made a host for the Estrie. That link allowed the Estrie to pull on Derrick’s life-force when Tess’s wasn’t enough to fuel all the murder and mayhem. That’s why Derrick kept getting nosebleeds and passing out every time the Estrie used more of her powers than Tess could handle. It also allowed for two-way teleportation. The Estrie could always teleport to the people marked as sacrifices, but the link allowed her to return Tess to a safe, alibied location. Teleportation is specifically described by Derrick as being ripped apart and pieced back together. Both of those facts are about to matter, but first…
There are two rule of the ritual that come into play in the ending. The first is that the victims can’t be killed by the Estrie unless they consent. Tess never did. There were injuries outside of the Estrie that could have killed Tess, but up until that final night, the Estrie healed Tess before they could be fatal. So in the interpretation that Tess dies and Derrick is dreaming, the bonfire and/or pencil are her cause of death. In any other interpretation, re-inflicting the wounds was an action taken by the Estrie, so technically, Tess couldn’t die from them.
The last major detail is the timing of the ritual. The ritual didn’t start with the lighting of the match, it started with the drawing of symbols and chanting the right words at the right time. The match lighting was just a sign it worked. In order to complete the ritual, each sacrifice had to die on the first night of the lunar phase they were marked for. Though Josh was killed early ensuring the ritual couldn’t be completed, Matt was killed on time. By the rules of the ritual, that meant that the Estrie technically had possession of Tess until the first night of the full moon, when Josh was due to be killed.
Dorian’s alarm clock goes off at moonrise on the full moon. Since Josh is unable to be sacrificed, the ritual ends. Since Tess can’t be killed by the Estrie, and the connection dictates she be teleported back to Derrick when the Estrie is done with her, it’s entirely possible that when she pops up on his porch dripping wet from the ocean where Dorian scattered her ashes, that she’s in the exact same shape she was in since before the ritual began.
Or maybe by killing Josh, Derrick took his place and the Estrie is there, using Tess’s form because she knows it will get to Derrick and it’ll be that much easier to guilt him into consenting to be sacrificed.
It could go either way.