Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘There is naught to say’, Vesper shrugged. ‘I shall not betray my brethren unto thee – whatever you might threaten. Your paltry forces hold no fear for me,’ he lied, ‘’tis thou who shouldst worry.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  Last chapter, Lady Ninnia said that in order to become the Starwife ‘one must know terrible grief in order to learn compassion’, but I wonder if any of us expected Ysabelle’s lesson in loss to come so soon, and so brutally. Even when Ninnia sends all of the Hazel Realm’s defenders with her daughter, we as readers still want to believe that she and Cyllinus and their subjects might find a way to survive. This is Robin Jarvis, however, and, alas, it doesn’t work that way.

Now Vesper and Ysabelle at last come face to face. Both are grieving for parents they have lost to the conflict between their kinds, and their mutual contempt is understandable if you consider that, alongside the fact that both of them are really quite young still. In this chapter we see the sheltered upbringing of both characters working against them, but at least no blood is shed.

Once that little feud is nicely set up, the plot gets going in earnest with the arrival of the, er, ‘forces of darkness.’ I haven’t spoken about Griselda yet but she’s honestly one of my favourite minor characters in this book. She might seem tiresomely dithery and more of a comic figure than anything, but honestly, she has spent her entire life in the tiny domestic sphere of the royal house of Coll Regalis. Of course she’s unprepared for the wild wood and the terrors it harbours. Unfortunately for the rest of Ysabelle’s entourage, so are they. So much for a desperate hope.


Matt’s Thoughts: Again, I have a mental blank on a lot of this book, so I really cannot remember Ysabelle and Ves’s story arc in this book. They have a classic Audrey/Piccadilly set-up (they meet each other for the first time and straight away hate each other), against a very Romeo and Juliet background (two warring houses). But does this turn into a romance? Or are they just going to become friends and (hopefully) kick Morwenna’s butt?

You’d want to hope so. Anyway, there was no time for me to speculate too long on those two because, as is the way with Mr Jarvis, as soon as you get a bit of breathing space (like Griselda stroking Ysabelle’s hair), things suddenly get Much. Worse. Like enormous rats wearing hoodies and armed with daggers. Not pleasant!