Warning: Contains Spoilers!
From somewhere in her dreams a voice seemed to be calling to her: ‘Akkikuyu! Akkikuyu – are you there?’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Just as with last chapter, there’s a lot going on here below the surface. Let’s start with the atmosphere. It is summer; the moon is round, the weather is warm, Oswald is better. On the face of it, things are hunky-dory for our heroes.
Except that they are not.
Audrey is not coping with the dual heartbreaks of leaving her mother and her life-long home so soon after her father’s death. What’s more, she has ruined things with Piccadilly, and the prospect of having to spend the rest of her days looking after a senile old rat in a country backwater she’s never seen with people she’s never met is finally beginning to hit her in all its misery.
Meanwhile, Madame Akkikuyu has a new suffering to add to her list in the form of a sinister, disembodied voice which plagues her sleep. For anyone who has ever dealt with mental illness and/or intrusive thoughts, Akkikuyu’s fear and despondency hit painfully close to home.
During the scene where everyone says their goodbyes, we also get another glimpse into Thomas’ secret and buried torments. Twit’s unknowing, well-meaning correction of Thomas’ misuse of his name should make the midshipmouse’s momentary lapse seem inconsequential; instead it looms large, drawing our attention, causing us to wonder what sort of anchor Thomas could be carrying that a journey upon the water is impossible for him, even with friends waiting at the end of it.
Things fester in the summer night, appearing just long enough to trouble, vanishing before they can be brought out into the open. Despite that they look to fair Fennywolde with hope, one cannot help but feel that our heroes will find no solace among the swaying stalks of that golden idyll.
Matt’s Thoughts: I had forgotten most of this chapter as well! Again, it possibly holds off the action for a little bit, but I’m enjoying the chance to enjoy some peace with these characters, because it never lasts long! This chapter also has some important mythology for Jarvis fans well. It’s the first time we hear the name Woodget in connection with Thomas Triton’s past, which is a thing we’ll definitely come back to.
But what I like best is the atmosphere. The good-natured Kempe, the Thames at night in summer, Akkikuyu enjoying the stars. Most of all, I’m drawn to Audrey’s compassion. Modern hero stories often try to give their heroes bravery, strength or smarts, but compassion is something much more rare and I appreciate the way Jarvis uses it.
Final question: is Kempe Irish? I always think of him as being Irish, but that could be my imagination.