Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Let the Briding commence!’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Along with last time’s dreadful instalment, this chapter is definitely pretty high on the list of Chapters From The Whitby Witches Trilogy We All Remember But By Gow We Wish We Didn’t. Everything about it is just so, so hard to read when you are an adult and you know what’s passing through Esau’s wizened noggin as he eyeballs his reluctant bride in her wedding gown. The fact that Nelda outwits him at the close of the chapter is small comfort in the face of the endless years of imprisonment she has to look forward to, and we can only hope that the doom the Lords of the Deep promised for Esau is on its way.
If we take a second to look at it from Ben’s point of view, the ghastly situation is actually magnified in its awfulness. The whole way to the aufwader caves, the poor kid was probably thinking that Nelda had suddenly fallen in love and forgotten him completely in favour of some dashing aufwader gent. After all, the only experience Ben has of the grown-up world of romance so far is Jennet, who is besotted with Nathaniel ‘by the dark powers invested in me’ Crozier.
From Ben’s perspective, it’s perfectly possible and probable that Nelda might be caught up in a whirlwind of impossible-to-understand but seemingly inevitable infatuation. ‘Doesn’t Nelda want to get married?’ he asks innocently, and I think we can all relate when he clutches his stomach in horror upon learning how things truly stand.
Matt’s Thoughts: Those of us who read the first book in the series have pretty clear memories that the Lords of the Deep are, on the whole, a miserable bunch. Placing curses on the aufwader race, drowning people that they don’t like, only doing favours when they can get moonkelp, that sort of thing.
Not really the kind that I’d invite along for a Saturday afternoon’s fishing trip.
So when you find yourself, as a reader, agreeing with the Lords of the Deep that Esau should not be marrying Nelda, you realise just how disgusting and old Esau actually is. Then, throw in the fact that he’s happy to offer mortal insults to the aforementioned Lords rather than give up what he wants – geez! He just does not care.
I also admire Nelda for sticking to her guns at the end, but it’s not a great situation to be in.