The Myth & Sacrifice Spoiler Policy

 

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‘Is that a spoiler I hear? Any who DARE to spoil shall serve ME on the other side of the candles!’ 

Matt here. While policy documents are normally a bit formal, I wanted to start this one with a story.

This story took place about 18 months ago. I’m halfway through Freax and Rejex (Book 2 of The Dancing Jax Trilogy, which we’ll be looking at next year). The book is absolutely blowing my mind. It’s intense, so exciting, so dark. I can’t tell what will happen next. It’s just brilliant.

Because back then there was no such thing as a website where people would blog and discuss Robin Jarvis’ books on a chapter-by-chapter basis, the only person in the world that I could think of at that time to talk to was my sister, who also still loves reading a Jarvis book. She’d read the Dancing Jax series a little before me, so I knew it would be safe to text her.

I’ve sadly lost the original texts – probably due to something like dropping my old phone – but our correspondence went something like this:

Matt: How awesome is Freax and Rejex? This book is *blowing my mind*.

Matt’s Sister: Yeah, but I can’t believe that [one of the main characters] had [something particularly unpleasant happen to them] … you had read that part, right?

Matt: Umm … no.

Matt’s Sister: Oh, sorry!

And in that manner, one of the biggest ‘AARGHH!!!  NOOOOO!!!’ moments of Freax and Rejex was completely ruined (and, yes, for those who have read the book, it was that moment).

So, to avoid that happening to any of the adventurous people who might be joining the Jarvis world for the very first time, I thought we’d just be upfront about our spoiler policy, so that we can maximise the fun for everyone:

  • Our policy will be to never spoil ahead, but in every post we will be more than likely spoiling the chapter.
  • So read the chapter before you read our posts!
  • Likewise, keep your comments and discussion to the chapter at hand. If you want to talk about something that you know will be coming up in a later chapter, save it till then.
  • If, in your enthusiasm, you inadvertently post a comment that could spoil major plot points for newbies, we reserve the right to delete your comment.
  • But we will let you know ASAP so that you can get a revised non-spoilery comment up.

Hopefully, these rules won’t be too arduous. And I’ll be honest, I envy anyone getting the chance to watch these plots unfold for the first time. It’s going to be awesome, people! I can’t wait.

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One Week To Go!

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Yeah, we understand that you’re a bit annoyed that you didn’t get an initial invite to the Robin Jarvis Great Grand (Re)Read, but it’s not too late to join up!

We hope that you all had a wonderful time over the Christmas / holiday season with exciting plans coming up for New Years!

We’ve been polishing mousebrasses and sharpening peelers madly over the last few weeks getting ready for launch and I think it’s no secret to say that we cannot wait to begin (re)reading The Dark Portal with you all next week.

For everyone who’s already lit up our comments section with your thoughts on front covers, illustrations, editions, plays of Robin’s work and other such stuff, we want to say THANK YOU! Keep it coming.

We’ll post our Myth and Sacrifice Spoiler Policy in a few days, so we can make it as fun for everyone, old Jarvis die-hards and new-to-the-folds alike. Then our first post on The Dark Portal will go up on Monday 2 January 2017. Yeah!

In the meantime, you have a great New Years’ and we thought we’d leave you with this Deptford Mice Trilogy trailer, which Mr Jarvis put together a few years ago when he discovered that he could actually draw his characters on a computer as well. While it shows some of the classic images, it also has a few that we’d never seen before (such as Piccadilly standing on Piccadilly tube station). Enjoy!

Two Weeks To Go & A Call To All Robiny Folks

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‘Mouse in the Green, let him come back to me // Lord of the forest and Lord of the sea…’

 

Greetings all, Aufwader here! While Matt soaks up rays in balmy Australia, up here in the bleak frozen north of the UK there’s only a few days to go until Midwinter. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we’re just short of two weeks until the Great Grand (Re)Read begins.

This post is aimed at those worthy stalwarts who are already Robin Jarvis fans. Whether you were washed in on the heels of Scaur Annie this summer, or bought a hardback of The Dark Portal from Borders when it was first released, this project would never have been conceived at all if not for you.

You attend Mr Jarvis’ talks and book signings; you collect first editions and mysterious, obsolete audio cassettes. Many of you grew up with Audrey and Madame Akkikuyu, Edie Dorkins and Jennet and Nelda. Some of you checked out The Whitby Witches from the library, hidden beneath your other books so that your disapproving parents and teachers wouldn’t ask what the appeal was in a story that seemed so grotesque. A few of you are writers and artists and creators of all kinds today because once, when you were young, you read about a gawky, sickly mouse called Oswald who was brave.

Who else remembers Robin’s old ‘Dare to be Scared’ website portal with Jupiter’s glowing eyes, or has a hand-painted poster advertising only the first two books of the Deptford Histories tacked to their wall? Who wrote fan-mail covered in wobbly drawings of squirrels with oaken shields and rats with potato peelers lashed to their arms?

My copy of Fleabee’s Fortune has a drawing by the original owner under the dramatis personae at the front. It shows a grim-looking character called Badhanda; ‘a young ratgirl who can’t wait to peel her first mouse.’ When I first acquired that copy I was still quite young, many years away from the trip to Greenwich which would spark Beyond the Silvering Sea, but it was that drawing which made me begin to think that maybe there might be other Robin Jarvis fans out there. That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t the last of the aufwaders.

It didn’t matter to me that the previous owner of Fleabee’s Fortune had given their book away. The point was that they had enjoyed it enough, become immersed enough, to want to create their own story. (In any case, Fleabee’s Fortune is meant for younger readers. To this day I like to think they moved on to the Deptford Mice Trilogy proper and become thoroughly embroiled).

The Great Grand (Re)Read is for bringing in new blood, so to speak, but it’s also for every Badhanda out there. For everyone who reviews Mr Jarvis’ books on their blogs, who participates in, or simply enjoys, Silvering Sea, who pesters Robin on Twitter for details of their favourite characters, who will probably comment at length on this post. This project is your chance to relive the wonders and woes of the Robin Jarvis canon, to experience those series’ which you haven’t yet got around to reading, and to bring your own Robiny histories (be they great or small) to the party. Come ye in, have a bowl of berrybrew, and welcome!

Three Weeks To Go & Why You Should Read Robin Jarvis

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Hi, Matt here! So we are just short of three weeks away from beginning The Dark Portal! While I know many people on this blog are super-keen fans already of Mr Jarvis and his fantastic imagination, a few of you might be newer.

Or might be those friends of mine who I pestered via Facebook. And email. And in real life. (I can be super-annoying when I start a project like this!)

But however you came to this blog, if you are new to the world of Robin Jarvis, I wanted to give you a bit of a heads up on what you are in for. Below is the email that I sent to all my friends, doing my best sales pitch to persuade them to join up and it pretty much sums up  why I think you’ll enjoy the Great Grand Robin Jarvis (Re)Read!

(Next week, Aufwader will present her call-out to the existing Jarvis fans telling them why they will thoroughly enjoy re-reading the Jarvis canon.)

Email Subject: Are you looking for your next YA read?

Hi folks,

I know a few of you out there are still fans (perhaps even avid ones!) of YA fiction. You were there for all the Harry Potters. You’ve lived through a few Unfortunate Events. You’ve been through the Wardrobe. You’ve heard the call of the Mockingjay. You might have even got into a fight over Edward vs Jacob. (We’ll leave that one in the past.)

So with a new year coming up, I wanted to invite you to join an online book club to read the works of English YA author, Robin Jarvis. I’m joining forces with a blogger from the UK and starting in January 2017 we’re going to be reading through one Jarvis book a month over the next couple of years and discussing his books chapter-by-chapter. (They are those kind of books.)

If that’s enough to get you in, jump over to https://therobinjarvisportal.wordpress.com and sign up for email updates! Otherwise, for those who have further questions:

Who is Robin Jarvis?

Robin is an English writer, based in London, who writes stories of dark fantasy and magic set mostly in various parts of England. He’s written over 20 books since the end of the 80s, including popular trilogies such as The Deptford Mice, The Whitby Witches, and the Dancing Jax series.

What kind of stories are they?

Robin’s stories nearly always feature:

  • Small, innocent heroes
  • Who are (often) anthropomorphic creatures
  • Who have to find an inner strength to face up against unspeakably evil villains
  • With lots of dark occult magic
  • And even more violence
  • And half of the good guys will have died tragically trying to defeat evil by the end of each series.

So with a description like that, you should know instantly whether you’ll like them or not, right?

For me personally, they remind me of the great animated films that I grew up with in the 80s (back when kids’ movies were a little bit more scary and magical), if they had been allowed to get even more scary and magical.

If they’re such good stories, how come I’ve never heard of him?

The short answer is that you probably live in Australia like I do! Jarvis books have been notoriously hard to find Down Under and a few of his older titles have sadly gone out of print.

My own theory is that when Jarvis started writing in the late 80s, young adult fiction as a genre was smaller and more light-hearted. (Think Roald Dahl.) But two decades later, J.K. Rowling proved that YA readers could take a great deal of darkness in their stories, and now it seems like every YA book features a dystopian future, incredible dark magic, evil villains, love triangles and favourite characters dying.

In other words, he was ahead of his time when he started writing and perhaps got lost in the crowd a bit in today’s day and age.

Having said all that, many of his books have been bestsellers in the UK and readers like myself that enjoyed his books as a kid have stayed firm fans and kept reading Jarvis into our adult years as well. He still continues to write books to this day (he’s working on a series called The Witching Legacy as we speak) and, I’ll be honest, he’s only getting better as he goes along. His recent Dancing Jax trilogy was one of the most astonishingly brilliant pieces of fiction I’ve seen in a long time.

Are they suitable for me to give to my kids?

Probably depends on the book. The series we’re starting with, The Deptford Mice Trilogy, in my opinion, would be good for the 8-to-12-year-old camp. For one of his later series, the Dancing Jax books, I would want to suggest older teenagers.

But because of the rather full-on nature of his writing, it would really come down to what your kids are ready for and what you allow them to read!

All right. I’m sold. Remind me again what I need to do?

  1. Go to robinjarvisportal.wordpress.com and sign up for email updates.
  2. Buy yourself a copy of The Dark Portal in readiness for January. (Chat to me if you’re having trouble tracking that down.)

Cheers,

 

Matt

Four Weeks to Go & Where To Get Hold of The Dark Portal

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This is an accurate portrayal of everyone who has joined the  (Re)Read trying to get the rest of their friends and acquaintances on board too!

Yes! We’re just short of four weeks to go till we start reading! It’s been exciting to see a few people sign up to follow the blog and hopefully we’ll get more on board as we go along. But for those who are joining us on the Grand (Re)Read who don’t yet have a copy of The Dark Portal lying around that they can dust off and start reading again, we wanted to let you know where to get hold of one.

Sadly, despite Matt having bought The Dark Portal twice in his lifetime just to collect the different cover artwork and Aufwader having somehow acquired three copies of varying provenance, it was not quite enough to keep this book in print in a physical format as of the time of writing. (This is unfortunately the case for most early Jarvis books that we will be reading through in the first year.)

However, those of you who have a Kindle (or can get the Amazon Kindle app in some shape or form) will be delighted to know that you can pick up a very affordable copy of The Dark Portal eBook. (We just checked prices now and currently, it was sitting at £1.99 on Amazon.co.uk, $0.74USD on Amazon.com and $0.99AUD on Amazon.com.au.)

So, really, you’ve got no excuse for making a quick impulse buy right now as we speak.

The caveat with the eBook version, though – and it’s a major one – is that there are no illustrations. Mr Jarvis, as well as being a writer of some talent, is also a phenomenal illustrator as well. In fact, the story goes that he drew pictures of the Deptford Mice first and then started coming up with a story to house them.

And so the original editions of The Deptford Mice Trilogy all feature stunning cover-art on the front and back of the book plus a full-page black-and-white illustration in each chapter (so 14 interior illustrations in all). These illustrations are amazing, because they really bring the heroes and villains of the series to life and set the tone for the story.

So please do buy the eBook version, which we hope gives a couple of pennies to Robin. But for a few pounds in the UK (or around $10 if you live on the other side of the planet like Matt) you can pick up a cheap second-hand copy from eBay or AbeBooks or Amazon which will give you a chance to see the illustrations for yourself. (For copyright reasons, we won’t be able to reproduce them all in this blog, though we may point out a couple of our favourites along the way.)

BUT … before you head off to get yourself a second-copy, we need to give a further warning: there are second-hand copies and there are second-hand copies. It’s possibly a rights issue, maybe something else. But there was at least one print edition of The Deptford Mice books that came out with just text and no illustrations. (The horror!) So, to make it easy for you, here are the front covers that you are looking for:

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This one is the original first edition, featuring a pair of burning red eyes peering out of the Dark Portal of the title. This is the ideal one to get, because it was the most nicely laid out in terms of font, paper stock, readability, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

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Next best is this Hodder Silver edition, which came out in 2000 with the same interior illustrations but a new cover by Robin. It has a very cool feature – if you get all three of these editions and line them up in a row, you see a picture form across the spines! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This next one is the American edition which came out in hardback, with a cover by Leonid Gore. It features Robin’s illustrations on the inside, but for some mysterious reason, the US publisher saw fit to have completely new illustrations done for the covers. While the large, dramatic-looking rat is quite eye-catching, for Matt at least, it’s just not what a Robin Jarvis book looks like. But if we have any readers in the States, this edition may be slightly easier to track down.

 

 

 

Most other versions of the book that we have seen haven’t had the illustrations, so I would suggest only purchasing one of those three. (As a side note, the Japanese editions of the Deptford Mice Trilogy are illustrated by John Shelley throughout, and are definitely worth collecting). The Dark Portal is also available in German and Italian.

Once you’ve picked up a copy, if you want to drop by and comment on this post to let us know which edition you own, or which edition you bought and what you like about it, we’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, don’t forget to tell your friends to come over and sign up! The more, the merrier! (Maybe buy two copies of The Dark Portal, so you can give one away as a Christmas present?)