Warning: Contains Spoilers!
She felt herself travelling high above the ground, riding upon the wind, while all around her large shadowy shapes called on harsh, cruel voices.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I feel like I or someone else has said this before on here, but a theme that’s apparent throughout all of Robin Jarvis canon is the loss of self, of identity. This is often combined with the loss or transformation of one’s physical body, for example, Madame Akkikuyu being forced to host Jupiter’s unquiet spirit in The Crystal Prison. This also turns up in the Whitby Witches with Sister Bridget, the half-aufwader child, and with the idea of the Mother’s Curse itself – a seemingly natural change turns out to bring certain death for the fisherfolk women. More recently, in the Witching Legacy, we had both out-and-out spiritual possession, and Verne being grotesquely operated on.
Here, we see the loss of identity and the horror it brings with Sheila’s rather visceral morphing into Hlökk. Like the unfortunate witches of the Coven of the Black Sceptre, she can neither control the change nor fully recall what happens when she is transformed. It’s the stuff of cheesy werewolf- or vampire-related horror films, but works incredibly well here as the prelude to the rest of our main characters arriving in Glastonbury.
Matt’s Thoughts: I’d be interested to know other reader’s thoughts, but I feel that there is a theme that runs through Mr Jarvis’ books to do with the tearing part of the family. It’s there right from the start of The Dark Portal where the father of a perfectly regular nuclear family, familiar from most stories – Mum, Dad and a couple of kids – was brutally torn apart with the death of Albert Brown.
Ever since then, we’ve seen this theme a bit more – dysfunctional parents such as Isaac Nettle, death of children (like Oswald), orphans (Ben and Jennet). If the ideal in a Jarvis book is a tight-knit community, then the peril often strikes at the very core of that community – family members.
So while we know Lauren and Sheila aren’t close and that there is an awkwardness over the family arrangement, at least it is what it is. But this sort of weird going-on makes Lauren’s home unsafe and creepy.