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Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Flattened against the glass, frills of pale flesh parted and two clusters of eyes pushed forward to spy into the room.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: It’s a cold, wet night in Whitby, and we’re back for the final cold, wet instalment. After the rising of Morgawrus and the defeat of Nathaniel ‘most vile’ Crozier, you’d think the stakes could not get any higher, but with Miss Boston all but out of commission and the advent of Something Gross n’ Slimy from the Deeps, it appears that they can and will.

The brief appearance of Prudence Joyster’s shade was a lot of fun to read, but, for me, it was even more fun to listen to. The cassette of this book is narrated by none other than Prunella Scales, and honestly I can think of no better voice for so, so many of the characters who populate this story. Despite that the cassette was abridged, this was still an atmospheric and engrossing beginning, and when I read this book, I still hear it narrated in that illustrious lady’s voice.

As a last note, I can remember being oddly terrified by the seaweed splurgled against Miss Boston’s window and the sand that arrives at the close of the prologue. Was it just me, or did anybody else find that more ominous than all the actions of the Deep Ones against our heroes so far? There’s just something so disturbingly out of place about it. Clearly, it portends nothing good for Aunt Alice and her charges, though it is difficult to imagine what could be worse than Morgawrus.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: I know I’ve said this before, but if Whitby Tourism aren’t paying Robin a commission, they should be. (Or at least give him an honourary Key to the City.) Even though the opening scene is all rain and drizzle, it has such a sense of place that you just wish that you were there. The narrow streets, the seagulls, the 199 steps. It’s all there.

And what a great prologue! This was particularly relevant to me, because at the time I was reading this chapter, I had just caught one of the nastiest flus I can ever remember having. It had me bed-ridden for about five days, and there was a period in the middle of that where a sense of despair kicked in about whether I’d ever get better. (Not entirely rational, I know. But it made sense at the time.)

So the plight of Miss Boston, trapped in a body that’s not working the way she wants it, feeling like it’s all over – I could sympathise. So it was with much glee that I read the cameo from Prudence Joyster to tell Alice to hurry up and get over herself! Yorkshire ladies – they don’t beat around the bush. Even when they’re dead.

Chapter 1 was more a recap and set-up chapter for me, but it’s got me hooked (especially as the details of this story stubbornly refuse to come back to me). We’re reminded of poor Nelda’s plight, Ben and Jennet have another serious source of tension between them which threatens to tear them apart and there’s a slime creature from the depths crawling around the town. Bring it on.

P.S. Am I the only one who got an inadvertent cold shiver of doom when they read the words ‘Blessed Be’ at the bottom of Patricia’s inscription on her book of shadows? I’m sure it was meant to be a good thing in context in this book, but for any of us who have read the Dancing Jax series, those two words have a much more ominous meaning …

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