The Alchymist’s Cat | Chapter 6

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Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Escape the bonds of Death and come forth.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: All right, all right, I take it back. Spittle is the genuine article. His qualifications are not faked and he knows what he is doing both as an apothecary and in your bona fide magic circle. A round of applause for Spittle the Magnificent, everybody. (Ugh, I can just imagine the smug look on his face.)

If the last two chapters might fall under ‘Birth’ in Jupiter’s biography, we now move on to ‘Early Life’ as our favourite stripy fluff-ball attends his first practical demonstration in the occult arts. I love the clever little touches which hark back to that infamous Blackheath ritual in The Dark Portal, but to me, Spittle’s necromancy almost reads like a dress-rehearsal of that.

His pedantic and distracted counting out of the ceremonial equipment and irate chuntering (not to mention Will’s long-suffering trepidation) kind of kill the evil glory of the scene, rendering it more like a humorous parody of a summoning than the real deal. When the demon appears, it’s even more like a deliberate send-up of the ‘occult horror’ subgenre; Spittle has essentially failed in his ritual and summoned the wrong thing by accident, a common mistake of amateur conjurors everywhere.

With Jupiter’s timely intervention, however, Spittle’s soul is saved from perdition and Magnus Zachaire’s is bottled for later. Here’s another character who I feel like I didn’t truly appreciate until now – Zachaire is fantastic in and of himself, but I also noticed how he’s a rather graceful herald for the Elizabethan world of Deathscent, which we’ll be looking at next year. For now, though, the year is 1664, the night is cold, and there’s a riddle waiting to be unravelled.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: I don’t know about you, but this chapter takes me straight back to The Dark Portal and the grim scene in Blackheath. It’s the middle of the night, there are candles and circles and other paraphernalia and an unholy ritual that shouldn’t be done. With young Jupiter there to witness it all …

I can’t remember if I’ve said this on the blog before, but if there was a filmmaker I’d love to see have a crack at Jarvis, it’s James Wan (another fellow Aussie!) who directed the early Insidious and Conjuring movies. They don’t necessarily have complex plots, but when he wants you to jump out of your skin, he’ll get you to do it.

It’s these kinds of jump scares that I visualise with the demon that appeared in this chapter (and also that horrific bit a few chapters ago when Will was trying to pluck a hair from the corpse on the gallows). The book is still ultimately a YA dark fantasy, but there are just these horror moments in there which would work well in a film. It’s also a nice entrance for one of our new characters – the shade of Magnus Zachaire.

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2 thoughts on “The Alchymist’s Cat | Chapter 6

  1. The main problem with adapting The Deptford Mice and Histories in particular into a film or TV series is, I think, finding a target audience. The books are aimed at children and teenagers, and can get away with that because the violence is described instead of shown, but if brought to the screen you’d have basically what is the equivalent of a gory horror film for mature audiences (just imagine the death scenes from Thomas in animated form!). The trouble there is that instead of humans, the characters are mostly cute rodents which naturally appeal to children. As much as I believe the stories would make awesome movies, realistically they would be a tough sell… to mainstream filmmakers, at least.

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  2. Magnus is a great character. It just occurred to me that you could draw a parallel with Jacob Marley of A Christmas Carol, as in life Magnus was very similar to Spittle and he tries to warn him not to go down the same destructive path he did. Of course, the difference is that Marley’s advice is actually heeded and Scrooge doesn’t imprison him in a bottle!

    It’s here that we are introduced to our other source of comic relief in this book – Magnus’ snarky comments at Spittle’s expense!

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