Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Join us in the deep,’ their icy voices rang. ‘Walk no more under the sun. Come rot, let your flesh dissolve and take on other guises.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: The first section of this chapter is a series of small, disparate scenes sewn together, but in the tapestry of the story they are extremely important.

With a familiar friend returned, there is a renewal of hope for our pilgrims. The feud between Wendel and Giraldus is set up rather well in a few short lines, and I have to say that I am on the mole’s side this time. The group have just been in fear for their lives yet again, and there’s no joke nor magic trick in the world that can make light of the imminent arising of the  Lord Hobb from the unlit regions of the Pit.

Here we also have Ysabelle and Vesper inadvertently tearing holes in the stories and sermons they were fed as children. They’re still a ways from reconciliation yet, but progress is certainly being made. I know this book more or less cover-to-cover, but it’s still rewarding to see the growth in these characters and watch them start to realise that, hey, maybe the dread foe isn’t so dread after all.

And finally, the wraiths of the mere. I think we all remember those wheezy horrors! They’re definitely high on the list of infamous Robiny beasties, and for good reason. All that ‘moulder with us’ is probably worse than the gorecrow’s song last chapter, and the icy, choking end which Vesper almost meets is at least as bad as having one’s eyes and innards devoured by irate corvids. Brr!

Matt’s Thoughts: I love grey ambiguous characters in a YA book. While there is something comfortable when you’re very young about really obvious bad guys (the ones who are ugly, or sinister, etc) – and Mr Jarvis has created plenty of those – the ones that mess you up a bit are the ones who you can’t read properly.

Apart from Ysabelle and Vesper, who we trust (they’re the innocent ones who anchor us as everything unfolds around them), everyone else puts me on edge a bit. Wendel, Giraldus, Tysle: are any of them what they seem? The fact that we’re not sure is enough to keep the tension up … until some decomposing fish skeletons climb out of the pond and try to kill everyone and then we’re more worried about our heroes’ survival!

Actually, I am curious about those fellows – they feel very much like they started life as a model. Would that be the case, Mr Jarvis?