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‘Very well, child. If thou do indeed bring back the treasure of the Deep Ones, I shall lift my judgement. But if thee return empty-handed, then expect the full measure of my wrath and abide by my decision.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: What a grim and gripping chapter this is! It’s only the first book in the trilogy and already we have the beginnings of a killer finale (no pun intended). Ben has found the moonkelp just in time, and the sprint to reach it and save the fisherfolk o’ Whitby bay from extinction is underway. As if that were not enough, we are also deluged with enough aufwader lore to keep me busy for weeks, so let’s have a look at some of that.

A few posts ago, I speculated as to whether the aufwader’s gift of foresight was ubiquitous. While that has not yet been answered, we do get to see another power which is definitely shared by all the tribe; the ‘aufwader snare’. This is worded in such a way that it might be a metaphor, but to me it reads as if Nelda and her family are literally rooted to the floor by the collective gaze of their fellow angry fisherfolk.

This raises some very interesting questions. Ben was caught in the snare when he first came upon Nelda, and later Silas Gull used it on him again with malevolent intent. However, the snare must have had other uses before the mother’s curse took hold and the tribe began to die out. I wonder, does this hypnotic power bear any relation to the luring song of sirens and other mystical beings of the deeps, if they exist in this universe?

In this chapter we also have the honour of venturing into the ancient home of the tribe. I shed a tear with Hesper when I think of the ammonite caverns where marvellous festivities were once held, now blocked up by a dwindling community who have run out of causes for merriment. A few old wonders still survive, however, like the hidden entrance to the caves, operated by a simple but sturdy mechanism and invisible to prying outsider eyes. One is reminded of the bespelled doorways devised by Tolkien’s dwarves to protect their mountain halls, though in this case, there is more engineering than magic involved.

Finally, I must begrudgingly mention Esau, as we make his acquaintance in this chapter. Those of you who are reading this book for the first time will forgive the rest of us for pausing to spit at the mention of his name. Believe us, you’ll be spitting too before the trilogy is over.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: For the first time we get to have a look around the aufwader digs, with caves, secret doors and all sorts of awesome stuff. (That’s my less poetic description of the place.) I do have to ask, though, for those of you who are actually British: are there really that many caves in the UK? Growing up on Enid Blyton books, I just assumed that wherever you went in England, you were within half an hour’s walk of a cave or a railway tunnel. So of course there are secret caves all over Whitby. But are there that many famous caves? Do any of you go exploring caves for fun

Anyway, moving on from caves … Robin Jarvis is usually fairly respectful of his community leaders – they might be a bit stuffy (like Mr Oldnose), but on the whole people like the Thane and Mr Woodruffe are a good sort. So it’s a little bit out of character (but totally awesome) to have Esau come out, deliver a resounding banishment and then get fairly solidly told off by Nelda. (Cop that, Long Whiskers!)

And just when we start to get all excited about moonkelp … Rowena! It’s that moment when the arch-villain shows up and it’s every bit as iconic and brilliant as we want it to be.

But before I breathlessly flick over to Chapter 13, I do have a question for Aufwader: Tarr’s accent? Does that sound a little bit like he’s migrated down from your part of the world?

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