Warning: Contains Spoilers!
Rearing high above the roofs of the new hotels was the tower of an immense windmill. Dominating the top of the cliff, it rose from the centre of a long brick building and was higher than the abbey ruins. It was so imposing, the August sunshine appeared to have no power over it.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Ah yes, the anomalous and distressingly ugly industrial building; a Robin Jarvis classic. Surely, nothing sinister could possibly be going on in that looming five-sailed edifice that seems to absorb even the light of a summer’s day, and dominates the coastline like a sentinel of malign horror. I’m sure Lil will at no point find herself entering its vicinity during this book’s finale to do dire battle with the evil she has journeyed so far through time to confront. Nope. Absolutely not.
As much as I love Nannie Burdon (and that is very much) Martha is my absolute favourite character in this book, if not in this entire series. She has that inexplicable but deeply lovable something that certain of Robin’s characters possess. I’m getting Twit, Dab, and Pear as examples, but I’m sure you’ll agree there are many more. Unlike his righteous ‘goodfolk’ or insidious two-faced villains, this type of character radiates honesty, integrity, and deserves-better-ness from their very first appearance. Which means, of course, that sooner or later they’re for the chop.
Matt’s Thoughts: And this is where real-life macabre doings flows over into the fantasy world. The fact that people actually did have viewings of corpses in their homes is a real-life detail that works effectively here.
But, actually, I think the whole chapter works because it pauses away from the supernatural, and focuses on the human. Grace’s grieving father, struggling with his alcoholism, Nannie Burdon, giving him flack. You can feel the actual tragedy under this that gives an extra layer rather than just waiting for what the next sinister reveal is.
Though with Mrs Axmill offering the family crypt, one can only wonder what is in store there. I’ve personally hated family crypts since I was kid. One part of that was reading ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ by Edgar Allan Poe, which had the most terrifying set of italics ***spoiler alert*** I’ve ever seen in my life: We have put her living in the tomb! That sentence just burned a hole in my brain at age 9 or 10 or whenever I read it and utterly Freaked. Me. Out.
The other thing that crypts remind me of was another freaky story of a family crypt (which I thought was in England, but turns out to be Barbados) that, every time they came to bury someone new, they would find that the other coffins had mysteriously moved. It was possibly just internal flooding (or there’s the Wikipedia explanation, which is that the whole thing is just made up), but again – terrifying.
Anyway, enough of my childhood nightmares. Back to 19th century Whitby.