The Alchymist’s Cat | Chapter 12


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Then Jupiter revealed for the first time his power.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: I absolutely love Mr Jarvis’ creative chapter titles, and this has got to be one of my favourites in the Deptford Histories. I mean, you can’t really get much more majestic than ‘The Fall of Adonis’. In referencing the figure of ancient Greek myth, this title also carries on that classical motif that is behind both Heliodorus’ and Jupiter’s names and which weaves through everything Spittle is about – as a learned man he would be well-versed in the classics and would appreciate being compared to figures of legend, even if, in reality, the comparison were somewhat less than apt.

There’s also a strand of the ridiculous in this chapter. Adonis is most well-known for his premature demise, and many depictions of him in art and sculpture show the titular ‘fall’. It’s difficult for me to find it in my heart to feel sorry for Spittle after everything he’s done, but his eventual undoing is both a brilliant move in terms of character and also one of the most dismal, pathetic downfalls in this entire series. It took no great magic or heroic resolve to defeat Spittle, because at the end of the day he was just too jolly self-absorbed.

On reread I realised that Magnus Zachaire is, in death, actually just the same as he was in life. Despite the grand wisdom he has been granted by crossing over, he is still malicious and manipulative, and doesn’t seem to have taken his earlier promise to turn over a new leaf to heart at all. It’s really quite saddening, and I feel his story is one of the darkest and most hopeless in this book. I shudder to think what may become of Will and our feline characters, should that sinister spectre achieve his goals.


Matt’s Thoughts: All the way through the book, it has been well established that Spittle is both terrified of the black plague and dreadfully vain as well. So, of course, it makes sense that when fate catches up with him, it’s a combination of vanity and the plague that cause his undoing. Clever!

It’s also interesting because, despite being the most villainous character in the story, he is not brought down by our hero, Will. (Who actually hasn’t been able to do much at all in this story.) Instead, he pretty much brings himself down – though the manipulations of Zachaire in the background are behind much of the mischief.

But even that is overshadowed by the awesome moment when Jupiter speaks to Will. Up till now, the human and animal characters in the story have been running in parallel, all having their own dramas. But now, Jupiter speaks to Will and draws him into the potion-making. It’s a great twist and a reminder that ultimately this story, despite having so many interesting and varied characters, is ultimately the background story for the Dark God of the Rats, and we’re drawn back to Jupiter and his power.

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