Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘As ever, we are ready and shall await the time when your resting is over.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: This is one of those great early chapters in which nothing happens, and yet, everything happens. The depressing first half brings us closer to our protagonists – beset Mr Chapman; grieving, angry Neil; and poor little Josh, who didn’t sign up for any of it and just wants to be four in peace. As an adult reader I feel rather sorry for Mr Chapman, but I can also see how any child reading this who has been through similar experiences to Neil might side with him at this point.
During Neil’s exploration of the museum I was of course reminded of Ben’s run-in with the grisly exhibits of the lifeboat museum in The Whitby Witches. In that book, however, the tale of the drowned sailors is a one-time creepy anecdote which does not appear again, whereas here, we’ve got room after dusty room of foreshadowing. Who or what will be our monster of the week, readers all? Will it be the Egyptian mummies, so rudely hauled from their final rest? The curse of Pygmalion, the ghosts of those shrunken heads, the salve-less eye? Or perhaps, fate forfend, the deeply Robiny devil-box of Belial?
Then there’s the Websters and their somewhat haphazard but apparently loyal following. Aidan makes his first appearance, and expositions a bit for our intrigued delight. (Oh come on, even first-time readers know he’s going to be important, dressed like that and yelling at the aged sisters like he knows them.)
We’ve only known Aidan five minutes, but I have to point him out as one of my favourites of this trilogy. There’s something oddly cross-series about him; I wouldn’t be surprised if he claimed to have wandered the Thirteen Hills of Mooncaster, or to have met the werlings. (And now I’m foreshadowing, as if there isn’t enough of that to be getting on with in this chapter!) There’s also Mr Creepy Anorak With The Glasses, but the less said about him at the moment, the better.
Matt’s Thoughts: So let me get this straight – we’re in the back-blocks of the East End of London somewhere, and a group of randoms make a regular pilgrimage to beg supplication of some entity that exists in an old drinking fountain?
And upstairs there is a room containing demonic artefacts?