Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘It’s horrible that something so lovely could be the cause of so many deaths.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I thought that Dancing Jax was the first of Robin’s books to have its own soundtrack composed of real-life tunes, but evidently, I was wrong. In this chapter we have both ‘Stairway to the Stars’ and ‘Moonlight Serenade’, period hits that add an extra something-or-other to the wartime romance unfolding before us.
On a more macabre note, I find it a really interesting twist that Neil can see the bombsite ghosts. Thus far, he hasn’t shown any supernatural talent, especially compared to Edie, and yet here he is, running from her spectral subjects. This implies that either; the ghosts are visible to everyone but those who come across them choose to believe they are imagining things; or that some outside influence, be it the fates, the gateway, Belial, or even Edie herself, is influencing Neil, uncovering previously dormant psychic ability. Either way, it’s a brilliant, chilling scene.
Lastly, there are the collisions between Edie and Neil, and between Angelo and, well, himself. I have to laugh every time Ted narrates his own past actions in horrified whispers, cringing at his cheesy turns of phrase and smarmy behaviour toward Jean. It really endears us to him as a character, to know that he knows he was once deeply obnoxious, but has now seen the error of his ways. It’s a shame that it took his own death to realise how ridiculous he was being, but with time and fate aligned, perhaps that can be undone.
Matt’s Thoughts: I love the adult level of complexity that this story has introduced, despite having an 11-year-old protagonist. We have Angelo talking about the fear of death that all bombers had, plus the moral ambiguity of a job that required you to drop bombs on other human beings.
There is the bleakness of the departed spirits that hang around Edie, and their loss.
There’s the Archduke of Demons lurking somewhere in the background.
This is all big stuff for little readers to cope with.
And then – what’s up with Kath? (Unlike Wendel and Dimlon, I did not see that coming at all. Clearly, Robin was getting better at springing the surprise nasty characters on us by the mid-90s!)
Now, the kidnapping of Ted – does this cause a time paradox? Was this meant to happen (in the vein of Time of Blood)? Or is this deviating Ted/Angelo off on a different path? I’m not sure …
And one final thought – while this book is completely unrelated to the Whitby series, we do, in the character of Edie, have another child who can see the dead. Which – just having finished off a Stephen King recently – ties into Mr King’s cast of ‘shining’ kids who see things.
This has got me thinking: where did this idea of children with an extra sense of perception come from? Did The Shining start it in the 70s and every other story is a nod to that one? Has it been a concept that’s been floating around in mythology for centuries? I’m not sure, but – like vampires – it’s a plot device that rarely gets old. (And certainly not when you’ve got someone like Robin Jarvis spinning the yarn!)
Actually, I didn’t intend ‘spinning the yarn’ to be a gag either, but clearly it is. I’m now curious – did this end up in our vocabulary as a nod to the concept of the weavers of fate?