Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘The Anglo-Saxons called it Blotmonath – the month of blood.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: This is definitely one of those chapters that would work very well on the small screen. The otherwise cosy and safe environs of Miss Boston’s cottage become claustrophobic with the arrival of Nathaniel and the gruesome Mallykin, and Ben’s helplessness serves to make a bad situation worse. In The Whitby Witches, Miss Boston’s home was a safe place for the children, somewhere they could return to if the world became too threatening and full of supernatural horrors.
Reading this chapter, I remembered Jennet sitting awake in bed during Book 1, hearing the howls of the Barguest outside but protected from its terrible jaws by the charms over the doorway. It’s testament to how the tone of the trilogy changes in this book – and to the threat that Nathaniel presents as the main antagonist – that it is Jennet who has now unwittingly destroyed the protections around the cottage, allowing all manner of supernatural nightmares to enter.
Matt’s Thoughts: Poor old Ben! This time round he gets the trauma of Nathaniel arriving in the house with a Mallykin in tow.
It’s about this point that I realised that it’s quite a clever plot point having Ben with supernatural powers and Jennet being just his ‘normal’ sister. If they both had the sight, then you wouldn’t be able to get the horrific tension of this chapter, where from Jennet’s perspective, she’s entertaining a guest and making cups of tea. From Ben’s point of view, his sister is about to be savaged by a vicious monster. What makes it so effective is complete lack of awareness of the danger that lurks around her.
And then the final scene in the Gregsons … while it’s the destruction of the guardian that is the terrible part that is going to release doom on Whitby, for me, it’s the interactions between the Gregsons that makes this scene so effective. Mrs Gregson, spoon-feeding her husband and begging him not to die and leave her alone. The same husband that, a few days ago, she had nothing but contempt for. While the Gregsons wouldn’t be pleasant people to hang around under normal circumstances, Mr Jarvis invites us to show a moment of compassion (again!) and reminder us that no one deserves to have Nathaniel Crozier happen to them.