Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Tonight the brides of Crozier will be unchained!’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: The moment when I realised that ‘The Ballad of Molly Werbride’ was foreshadowing was one of those great Robin Jarvis moments, like the epilogue of The Alchymist’s Cat, or when Rowena turned back time. It was a moment that made me go ‘oh, that’s good!’ and have a little cackle to myself before reading on.
This chapter is definitely one of the most unnerving in an entire trilogy of unnerving chapters. We see the vicious truth of the Coven of the Black Sceptre, and feel Jennet’s crushing sense of betrayal when the reality of her new friends is revealed. What makes this chapter so creepy is that the way the folk band endear themselves to Jennet is, as far as I’m aware, quite close to how real cults bring in new members. They’re almost too friendly and welcoming, and to vulnerable, sheltered Jennet, they seem like the perfect escape from a life that she finds stifling.
The folk band have painted a picture for her of their carefree life on the road, but the reality of the matter is that they’re more trapped and confined than Jennet ever was. It’s very gratifying to see that she at least has the strength of will to resist Nathaniel at the last, and that Pear seems to have turned a corner away from her grim upbringing for Jennet’s sake. As for Jennet’s daring escape on the handlebars of Sister Frances’s bicycle, what a fantastic image! I love the illustration for this chapter, but I’d love to have seen Sister Frances yelling, ‘Get thee jolly well behind me, and stay there!’ on the small screen.
Matt’s Thoughts: Oh, it’s all heating up! The Lords of the Dark and Deep want Miss Boston. (WHY??? I can’t remember and it’s killing me!)
Then there’s Jennet and her moment of truth. Loved this whole sequence. Not only do we just have a straight up bit of black magic / werewolf horror, we also get a great chance for Jennet to work through her bitterness and show us that she does care for Ben and Miss Boston. So it’s a great character turning point for her as well.
And who didn’t give a big cheer when Sister Frances showed up? Now, I even more want Miranda Hart to be in the TV adaptation – after all, she’s had practice riding a bike in Call the Midwife. She’s ready for this role. But, in all seriousness, these little moments where somebody you might have written off as purely comedic turns out to be of great value or the tragedy of Pear, whose desire for a friendship with Jennet leads her to try to save her – all this is Mr Jarvis in top form.