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!