Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Another lost soul, searching for meaning. There really are too many of them in this modern age.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: To be honest, I had doubts that this book might succumb to the awful curse of being The Middle: Part One of Two. Devil’s Paintbox sits at an awkward angle in Robin Jarvis canon for being book two, not in a nice symmetrical trilogy, but in a quartet. This means that it not only has to lift the introductory first book into high-stakes sequel territory, but support two more afterwards. There’ll be no neat wrapping-up next book, because we are not done. What happens here has to tell its own story while sustaining the overall themes, mood and plot of the Witching Legacy – a devilishly difficult task.
That said, it works, and works extremely well. This finale could pass for the sort of large, theatrical trilogy ending for which Mr Jarvis is so well-known, and yet, since this is book two of four, we as readers can still anticipate the inevitable escalations that will surely happen over the course of the next two books.
We’ve got everything – a limelight moment for Cherry, for Lil, and for our villain. Burnings and transformations, storms and earthquakes, and a clever connecting of Whitby’s past to its human inhabitants, rather than through the fantastical lens of the aufwaders.
My favourite moment of the chapter is definitely when the torrent comes and Whitby beings to ‘smudge and dissolve like a watercolour painting.’ What a wonderful image!
Matt’s Thoughts: Where to begin with a finale like this? There was something to love on every page. Firstly, all the talk of tea, teabags, knitting, etc. all comes together as we realise the genius of Jack Potts.
Then the Hot Chocolate entry of Cherry Cerise, which makes me slightly nostalgic – not for the 70s (of which I was really too young to remember) but actually the 90s. ‘You Sexy Thing’ made a brief comeback in my teenage years, courtesy of The Full Monty, the British comedy about out-of-work Sheffield miners who decided to become male strippers. The film itself may have faded a bit from memory, but it had an awesome 70s disco soundtrack.
And then just everything: the shock of Jack being out of the story (a NOOOO! moment for me), the YES! of Gansey Blue, and the final heroic act of Cherry.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, the beautiful conversation between Cherry and Cassandra, which made me a bit misty-eyed on my morning bus ride.
I also really liked the quote (which I’ve put above) by Mr Dark about how annoying it is to run into modern types ‘searching for meaning’. This is a slight mini-variation on a theme that gets a full exploration in the Dancing Jax trilogy, so I won’t go into it much here, but it’s an interesting spin on the latest Jarvis villains that they can work their ancient supernatural evil by tapping into modern discontent.
So absolutely top-notch Jarvis finale material, and we still have another chapter to go!