Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘For an eternity has it pulsed, this shadow-wrapped and mysterious heart.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Lots of tantalising foreshadowing in this one, and of course, the infamous Wyrd Sisters.
Who do you favour, readers all? Dreamy Miss Veronica in her mouldy white silk, a Diana too ancient to walk without a cane, let alone ride through ancient woodlands beneath the moon? Gnarled, aufwaderish Miss Celandine, distant ancestor-in-knitting to Lil? Or stern, bejewelled Miss Ursula, not so much a raven of memory as of myth, a proud but tarnished relic, as at home in her museum as if she were one of the exhibits? Personally I like Celandine the best, and happily, as the magnificent painted cover would have us guess, this is in some way her book.
While we’re here, let’s talk about that cover. What a piece of work! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m of the impression that the Wyrd Museum somehow doesn’t get the same amount of love and fond reminisces as the Deptford or Whitby series’. If that is the case, it’s a crying shame, and a shocking disgrace that the covers of this trilogy aren’t seen or discussed, for they are works of art in and of themselves.
The colours, the composition, the one-armed teddy leaping toward you, away from the livid crimson pincers of the grotesque insect; the robes of the sculptures left and right; the spectral glitter of Miss Celandine’s wool, front and centre against the intricately-tiled Victorian step. What a delight to the eyes. I would have loved to have this trilogy in new condition and/or in hardback. (If anyone sees those for sale and already has them, do point me in the right direction!)
Matt’s Thoughts: Knitting! Miss Celandine is doing knitting! In a house full of strange things with a bunch of old ladies who are keeping the powers of darkness at bay? I’m pretty sure that right there makes Jarvis Universe Theory complete, right? (Says me, two chapters in, having very little idea where this story is going to go.)
I must admit, having shorter chapters on this book does make me slow down and enjoy Robin’s prose and description a lot more. The grimy nature of the Wyrd Museum, even before we know much about the place, is really atmospheric. But also, there is the very human element of the Chapman family.
While I’m sure the boys will develop their own characters, I find Brian to be fascinating at this stage. It always feels like the trope with single parents is either a single mum who is trying to hold it together or a single dad who is mostly tough but facing challenges. But Brian is such a loser, it makes him interesting. Was it his lack of ambition that led him to middle age without holding down a decent job? Was it a lack of educational opportunities at a younger age? Personality?
Whatever it is, he’s not got a lot going for him. And yet – and yet – he is clearly a father who cares for his boys. He is the parent that has continued to look after the boys, not the other way around. So in many ways, he is a caring parent. (Which makes him very different from the alcoholic and abusive Jack Torrance from The Shining, perhaps the most famous fictional parent who moves his family into a creepy location to take a caretaker’s job.)
I will be very interested to see how his role in this story plays out over time. (And I’m hoping that he doesn’t end up dead. Is that a bad thing to hope for at the beginning of a Jarvis book?)