The Crystal Prison | Chapter 9

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Warning: Contains Spoilers!

At his feet was the body of a mouse.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: I had a bit of a chortle reading the scene where Arthur is temporarily initiated into the Fennywolde community as a sentry. I’d forgotten about it, and I realised that since I’d read The Crystal Prison last (a few years ago, certainly) I’d had a similarly haphazard-yet-meaningful experience. Oddly enough, it also took place in high summer.

Those of you who read Beyond the Silvering Sea will already know this story, but for any who don’t, let me summarise. Last year, a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Mr Jarvis at a local book festival. Being the die-hard fans that we are, we had both brought him tokens of our esteem to surprise him during the signing.

My friend had made the Anti-Owl Charm in craft clay, because Mr Jarvis had previously mentioned that it was his favourite mousebrass design. Since I was wont to present him with outlandish fanart projects, I had decided to go all-out and draw him his very own coat of arms to mark this extra-special occasion. There’s a bit of story behind that (read it here) but the point that I’m getting to is that I had also, somehow, at some point and possibly as a result of my mum’s earnest insistence the day before, decided that a coat of arms was a bit lacking on its own, and that Mr Jarvis ought to be knighted along with it.

The scene of Arthur being ‘sworn in’ is, funnily enough,  not dissimilar to what transpired that day. I made up a few suitably ceremonial-sounding words on the spot. Mr Jarvis was surprisingly game for the lark and graciously allowed me to ‘dub’ him with a pen my friend had brought. None of us could keep a straight face. The festival staff in the vicinity applauded. Unlike Arthur’s sentry duties, however, Sir Robin’s knighthood is by no means a temporary honour. Truly, it was the Green, and not I, who bestowed it upon him!

 

Matt’s Thoughts: Three comments on this chapter:

  • It just finally dawned on me that the Fennywolders have a democratic monarchy. I wouldn’t want to read any political views of Mr Jarvis into this, but the idea that the Royal Family would change every year based on a popular vote is somewhat awesome. That said, I really like Mr Woodruffe as a character. He walks a fine balancing act between recognising that the Green Mouse and the ways of Fenny need to be respected – but he never tips over into being an Isaac Nettle. He is, in short, a balanced leader that is good for everyone. (I’d wear a ‘Mr Woodruffe for King’ t-shirt.)
  • I quite enjoy the catty (pun intended) interaction between Audrey and Alison. The two of them are quite equal sparring partners when it comes to their tongue. But then again, that causes part of the problems when we get to …
  • The murder of Hodge. (I got, what, all of four chapters to enjoy having a character named after me? Thanks, Robin!) But what I enjoy reading this book now is that I can see Robin is again throwing in another normally adult story trope into a kids’ book. In this case, it is the serial killer mystery thriller. Ever since Jack the Ripper took to the streets, we have always been terrified and fascinated by unseen killers, picking off victims at random. And how many open with the finding of a body, killed under mysterious circumstances? (I just can’t think of the last time anybody did it with mice.)

Well, we can’t stop reading now, can we? On to Chapter 10!

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6 thoughts on “The Crystal Prison | Chapter 9

  1. *I tip a bowl of berrybrew to my lips and then spit it back out, coughing and spluttering as what I just read sinks in* Woah! Back up a step! You guys actually got to meet Mr Jarvis and present him with a mousebrass? Uuuurrr, that is so wicked! I can’t imagine how awesome you surely must have felt as the Anti-Owl Charm passed from your paws into the paws of the one who forged all mousebrasses!

    I humbly pay tribute to our esteemed author for what he brings us in Chapter Nine! Having hovered tentatively on the edge of each others’ existence up until now, the stars now line up in the heavens as Audrey and Alison collide. The shore of the still pool becomes the location of what is destined to be remembered for all time as an epic verbal sparring match! Oh thank you with all my heart, Sir Robin! I love these girls so freaking much as their oh-so-coyly spoken challenges and insults scrape together like blades wrought from pure snark! Sparks fly, and they are blinding in all their catty brilliance!

    Never has a seemingly innocent flick of the tail carried more meaning than it does when Audrey makes a point of drawing Alison’s attention to the beautiful bells she wears! We see so clearly with the benefit of hindsight that it will surely lead to serious trouble for Audrey further down the row of doom-laden dominoes which has slowly but surely begun toppling …but I’m afraid I cannot bring myself to care! Because the moment when she sweetly calls her rival a snake whom she wouldn’t think twice about strangling is pure genius on our leading lady’s part! Do you hear that sound? You should, because the entire house just stood up and broke into applause! Fatality! Audrey wins this round of Passive Aggressiveness Kombat! But once again, Sir Robin is lulling us into a false sense of security as we stand and cheer Audrey on from the sidelines. Little do we dream that a brutal trap has been laid and we are mere pages away from walking into its jaws…

    It feels grimly appropriate that this day, which will forever live on in infamy, dawns baking hot. The severe weather (which is a mirror for the story) has unmistakably begun heating up as two mice stumble upon the horrific body of a mouse who was scarcely more than a child. A friend who died with a look of sheer terror etched upon his face. The victim of an unknown killer. Sounds like something ripped from the headline of a newspaper, huh? By. The. Green. Mouse! The author did not pull his punches with the enormity of what has happened!

    I think that many of us have seen something like this happen before, even if it was only through the media. The shock which grips the community is followed shortly after by a furious outcry, the rumblings of a witch-hunt in the making. The fieldmice cannot believe that something so horrible has happened in their field. ‘This sort of thing is not supposed to happen around here, is it?’they say to themselves. And of course the local troublemaker (AKA Isaac Nettle AKA seriously, why hasn’t he been squished by a meteor yet?) wastes no time using the murder as a chance to point the rancorous finger of blame at Audrey and accuse her of spreading corruption through the community. We have all seen this type of opportunistic scapegoating take place in the real world at times of tragedy.

    You’ve got to hand it to Sir Robin. He really is a shrewd observer of the behaviour people descend into when they’re scared. Serial-killers are scary, but mob mentality scares me far more. It can lead to people who were neighbours turning on one another like wild dogs. A foul poison has seeped into the heart of Fennywolde, but where is it coming from? Who is behind the terrifying murder of Hodge, and will they strike again? Make sure you subscribe to the Fennywolde Times so that you’ll remain up-to-date with all the latest unconfirmed rumours and baseless speculation about which particular town-born mousemaid is to blame for the wave of terror now sweeping across our fair field!

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    • Not to worry Aron, I fixed your comment. Do let me know in future if you accidentally missed something out and I’ll correct it. The same goes for all our (Re)readers!

      Yes, I have met Sir Robin in person, with a friend who isn’t taking part in the (Re)read right now but who will hopefully come in for a few trilogies further down the line. She was the crafter of the Anti-Owl Charm, and a lovely piece of work it was too.

      For anyone following the (Re)read who’s due to meet our Mr Jarvis this year: he takes time to talk to all his fans and sign everything you bring no matter how old and dog-eared, and he is very nice and will not peel you (unless you profess a heartfelt love for the collected works of Enid Blyton). Beware of the models and props he brings to events – they are imbued with the Forces Of Darkness and are more alive than they seem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for taking the time to iron out the mistake in my comment, Aufwader. I’ll be sure to take you up on your offer if any more should come slithering their way in like crafty serpents stalking their unwary prey. I appreciate it so much.

        It seems that your friend has a special talent for arts and crafts projects. I wonder which symbol would depict that skill on her Mouse Brass? Please tell the maker of the brass that we’re all eager for her to join us on Myth and Sacrifice when the time comes!

        Does Robin make all the props and models with his own two hands? If he does, they’ve got to be breathtaking given how darkly magical the cover art and illustrations he drew for the books are. Umm…is there any chance a mouse-peeler could be lurking up his sleeve? And how about a certain other terrifyingly deadly weapon that makes its unforgettable appearance in a future trilogy?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Also, @Aron I have not forgotten your art request from a few posts ago – I’ve just been a bit haplessly busy this week. I’ll add ‘Audrey and Alison Snarking At Each Other’ to my list of future scenes to draw as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Don’t fret about it, Aufwader. We all know how life can get in the way of fun every now and then. Take all the time you need. I don’t know much about art but I know what I like. And I love to imagine your portrayal of the ultimate showdown as Audrey and Alison face off against each other for supreme control over Fennywolde.

        Wow, are we really more than halfway through The Crystal Prison already? That is crazy. I swear it feels as though Audrey and the other Deptford Mice barely just stepped off the boat and set paw upon the swaying grass of the field.

        Liked by 1 person

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