The Crystal Prison | Chapter 12


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Fennywolde had become an evil place to live.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: What drama! What tragedy and anguish! This chapter pulls no punches, weaving the ‘Fennywolde feeling’ into something real and tangible and terrifying. By the end I felt completely emotionally drained, and yet, there is worse ahead!

First of all, however, we’ve got one of the most wincingly painful scenes to take place between any of our young mice thus far. Poor Jenkin – no mother, an abusive despot for a father, and now the mousemaid with whom he dreamt of starting a wholesome life loves another. My heart bleeds, and even more so when Jenkin does not even have the time to set things right before his short life is brutally curtailed.

The little aside where Alison, having witnessed Jenkin being carried off by Mahooot, cries silently and throws aside her brass really got me, as well. I said before that I don’t think I quite appreciated the glory that is Alison Sedge until this project, and while that’s true, I don’t think I appreciated the tragedy of her, either. She only discovers in hindsight that it was Jenkin whom she loved all along, and oh, how agonising that hindsight is!

What makes it worse is that Alison has not actually done anything truly evil. Spiteful, perhaps, manipulative, maybe, but nothing on the level of the properly villainous.  On reread I was struck by how disproportionate her punishment is for the minor slights and petty quarrels she has perpetuated. Like a lot about this book, the song of Alison Sedge is more of a tear-jerking lament, but, as Matt has said in previous posts, it’s their emotional ups and downs that make these mice so very human.


Matt’s Thoughts: So, so grim. I thought I was familiar enough with The Deptford Mice that this re-read would be more about watching how the whole story was put together. But this is full-on. I’m sucked in, the world of Fennywolde has risen off the page, and I’m emotionally invested.

Which is never great when you’ve got a heartbroken Alison throwing her mousebrass away, Jenkin abducted by an owl (after getting such a sweet scene with Audrey) and the vicious owl-mauling scene.

It is cleverly done, in that we almost feel a twinge of sorrow for Mahooot at the end. Certainly, it’s not a great triumphant moment when the mice finally defeat the owl. We don’t get the simple satisfaction of a nasty villain being dispatched. Instead it’s something much more grim. In short, it’s Jarvis.

One thought on “The Crystal Prison | Chapter 12

  1. Out of all the deaths in the main Deptford Mice trilogy, I think Jenkin’s affected me the most, which is really saying something considering how many there are. He was such a sweet, kind-hearted character who endured so much suffering at the hands of his father, and then it all ended at the talons of Mahooot just as he made a move toward his freedom. Isaac’s line in Whortle’s Hope about wishing an owl would carry Jenkin away so he would never have to look at him again is chilling, and you can only assume it came back to haunt him big time here.
    As much as we are expected to dislike her, I do feel rather bad for Alison as well. It’s made clear that deep down, she truly loves Jenkin and can’t stand to see him being abused. His murder truly drives her over the edge, and though her hatred of Audrey is unfounded, you really can’t blame her as her limited knowledge of what was going on led her to the conclusion that she was a threat. By the end Alison basically becomes an Ophelia-like figure, dirty and disheveled, dreaming of her lost love.

    Liked by 1 person

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