Time of Blood | Chapter 8

the deptford mice almanack _0002

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

The coffin began to fill with blood, and from that blood a horde of repulsive tentacles hatched. They tore through the wedding gown, and the perfect features of Martha’s face bubbled and burst until only a monster of scales remained.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Sometimes I sing the praises of the artists and designers who have worked around Mr Jarvis in recent years to make his books the lovely, oh-so-collectable things that they are. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.

The scene described in the above quote is clearly what the cover of this book was trying to portray, but in this instance I have to give an honest critique and say I feel it falls somewhat short. There is no sense of lingering horror, the tentacles could have been a great deal more repulsive, and there’s not even a stylised hint of blood. As for Martha, she is nowhere in evidence, melting or otherwise.

Sorry everyone, but imagery as grotesque as that needs the Robin Jarvis touch. Illustrations or no illustrations, the design team might have taken a chance just the once, and handed the covers over to the writer, who, by the by, also happens to have been painting book covers professionally for thirty years. If hell-eyed barguests and unholy fishmonkeys were allowed in the early 1990s, I think a few tortuous tentacles and a bit of bubbling bride is a small ask.

Middle-grade covers are no less lurid now than they were when the original Whitby trilogy came out, so offended parents and teachers are no excuse; young readers are always going to be bloodthirsty regardless. That said, I’m sure whoever decided upon these covers had their reasons. At least the limited rerelease of The Whitby Witches that came out this year is a small work of art in itself, and makes up for a multitude of design sins.

Now that I’ve had my whinge about that, let’s look at the brine and thunder of this chapter. Lil thinks she has found Verne at last, but oh no! It is Lil who ends up in mortal peril! (I knew those bathing machines were foreshadowing.) Then Abe Shrimp and Silas have their altercation, sparking what will eventually become the feud to which Abe will lose his life. Finally, one of the mysterious gentlemen who has been following the doings of Mister Dark reveals himself, and of course it’s Bram Stoker. Really, was it going to be anybody else at this point? Bring on the true Whitby Gothic.

Matt’s Thoughts: For some reason, when Pirates of the Caribbean did tentacley humanoid beings in their second movie, it was sort of a bit laughable. But the vision of Martha with the scales and tentacles is really creepy.

Only equalled by the creepiness that somebody has grafted wings onto Verne …

Anyway, the best part is that now the Irishman has been revealed as Bram Stoker, which thus makes his acting companion, Henry Irving – a superstar of his day. Whereas nowadays, of course, none of us know Irving and all of us know Bram Stoker. Only with the advent of film could actors become true immortals and have their performances passed on to future generations. Before that, the greatest theatre actor could only live on in the memories of those who had seen him perform. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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4 thoughts on “Time of Blood | Chapter 8

  1. The cover illustration was done long before this chapter was even written, so don’t be too harsh. As for Irving, there is one authentic recording of him reciting Richard III on youtube, taken from a wax cylinder – fascinating to actually hear his voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that explains that, thank you for putting me right about the cover. My disgruntlement was mostly to do with what I saw as the peculiar decision to allow you to illustrate the inside of the Witching Legacy books, but to leave you out in designing their outward appearance. Your covers, whether painted, digital, or photographed, have always been so closely tied to your writing that it seemed incongruous to me to have one without the other.

      I can understand that approach with regards to the Whitby Witches special edition, and of course I’m grateful that your original illustrations were included in the Witching Legacy. But, being the die-hard fan that I am, I’ll always be irately championing your interpretation of your own worlds over anyone else’s, so don’t mind me!

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    • Not ever having had a knack (or none that I practiced anyway!) for anything like drawing or illustrating, this is a nice reminder to me that you probably didn’t just bash out your covers in an hour or so of work one afternoon …

      Liked by 1 person

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