Warning: Contains Spoilers!
Within the dense blackout, an ancient horror was prowling and already the first chill tendrils of its power were threading through the gloom.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: In comparison to ‘Murder in the Park’ or ‘Cream-cakes and Death’, ‘The Broken Seal’ is not the most chillingly ominous of Robiny chapter titles, but it’s definitely in the top ten.
There’s something about it that conjures up visions of vintage horror films in which beleaguered tomb-robbers are dragged to gory deaths by venom-spewing demons, and so forth. As a title it would not be out of place on the cover of a tatty paperback novel found in the back of a cramped and mouldering bookshop in some small English town, which in turn harbours some awful evil of its own.
Speaking of evil, I daresay the blunt sadism of the scene with Mrs Meacham’s dog may have contributed to this book being at least as unrecognised as The Alchymist’s Cat. A bit of violence is all well and good when it’s animal to anthropomorphic animal, but wanton cruelty on the part of human characters to pets and other vulnerable creatures is not to be tolerated, and is very jarring and difficult to read.
There is however an important point being made here, as in Emelza’s death: during times of wide-spread suffering, be it plague or war, the worst of humanity will take out its anger upon the innocent and defenceless, which, sadly, includes the creatures it called friends in better times.
Matt’s Thoughts: I’ve got to say, this book is really potent. We’ve got ancient supernatural horror somewhere, but day-to-day we’re living in the realities of war-time East End.
Having now read the particularly unpleasant scene involving the dog, though, I take back what I said about Ma Stokes potentially having a heart of gold. This does not seem to be the case and, in fact, I’d be happy if she got dispatched in the next few chapters.
But being a Jarvis book,the villains only tend to get away with more and more as the book progresses …