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.