The Raven’s Knot | Chapter 23

RK
Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Death! Death! Death!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  Maybe it’s because there are more chapters in the Wyrd Museum books, or just because the plot is heftier, but I feel like we’re working up to the finale earlier than usual here. This chapter definitely has that ‘everything happening at once’ style that we’ve started to see when Mr Jarvis begins to put his characters where they need to be for the ending to happen.

Let’s take stock: Edie and Miss Veronica are trapped underground and possibly outside time all together. Neil and Quoth are fleeing toward the Holy Thorn. Tommy is up at the Tor, while Aiden provides a risky distraction for the Valkyries, one of whom is Lauren. Reverend Galloway is still going along with Thought’s deceit, though I get the feeling that that isn’t going to last much longer, and in amongst all this is Woden, planning to assail the Nornir directly. What a tangle! I feel like this will be the most complex finale we’ve yet seen, and since I can only recall one or two main points, I’m looking forward to seeing how our heroes will (hopefully) get out of this one.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: And after all my complaining, there’s a terrifying picture of a Valkyrie at the top of the chapter. I take back everything I said – and it was worth the wait.

And, best of all, we get our two favourite words in this chapter: Myth (with 12 Valkyries  now assembled!) and Sacrifice (No, Aidan, No!). Peter surely must be thinking he’s in too deep by this stage, but it’s too late.

I’m trying to work out how Woden is going to be defeated in this book, but I have no idea. My money is on it being something to do with the two raven brothers, but really, it could be anything. I’m just going to have to keep reading!

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The Raven’s Knot | Chapter 22

RK

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

The circlet they had come so far to find was sent spinning out of her grasp.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Back with Edie and Miss Veronica, in a chapter unlike anything we’ve yet had on this project. It’s curious and fascinating to see the way in which Christian and Norse mythologies have been blended together here, so that you get Verdandi taking treasured artefacts from the tomb of a supernaturally preserved Joseph of Arimathea in order to save Woden, who is in turn deceiving her. It’s a complex weave, and a new foray in the Jarvis canon, unless you count the brief appearance of the cherubic celestial messenger in The Whitby Child.

All that aside, we end on a dire cliffhanger. Who of the intrepid pair will make it out alive? For as we know, one does not return to the Wyrd Museum.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: Nice little pastiche of elements in this chapter:

  • A nod to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • A reference to the old Catholic belief (which I always found incredibly creepy TBH) of the Incorruptibles – the saints whose body will not decay. (Photos here – but be warned, they’re a bit unsettling.)
  • Plus every other Jarvis book where they go looking for The Magic Item that will supposedly wield great power.

And I was expecting the Magic Item to fail in the end, but to have it disappear within a few pages of finding it? Ouch! The stakes are high now.

The Raven’s Knot | Chapter 21

RK

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

The Valkyrie was a malignant vision of despair and hopelessness.

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  This chapter is such a horror movie classic. The reveal of Hlökk, several pages long and excruciatingly grotesque, is just begging for the accompaniment of some strained strings and a sickly red filter streaming from the top of the stairs. Lauren and Neil both do an excellent job against the monstrosity (Neil is what, twelve? Thirteen? And in comparison to what he faced in The Woven Path, a noisome, razor-feathered Valkyrie is all in a day’s work). As for Tommy and his ‘collection’, I had a feeling they would turn out to be more than they appeared. I also love the detail of the animate crow doll; that gimmick s somewhat overused these days, so it’s good to see a genuinely unnerving example here.

Then there’s the soap opera element of this chapter. Who guessed that Sheila would turn out to be Neil’s mother? Certainly not me, and it came as a complete surprise since I haven’t reread this series in quite a few years. At first I couldn’t really suspend my disbelief for it (after all, what are the minuscule chances?) but then it occurred to me that this entire trilogy is strung, as it were, upon fate and destiny. I’ll let it pass this once since there is a moment of emotional closure for Neil, but once is enough for these kind of dramatics. If I wanted a family drama, I’d just read the Nibelungenlied!

 

Matt’s Thoughts: Robin Jarvis can be known to be a tease when it comes to illustrating his villains. He’ll describe them minutely in words but then only give us a glimpse in the illustrations. Case in point: Jupiter, where we waited for three books before we got an actual picture of him. Morgawrus, whom we never saw at all. And I’m pretty sure nobody has seen anything of the Lords of the Deep and Dark either.

So here in Raven’s Knot: the illustration for the chapter is a tantalising (and terrifying) image of a claw and feathers descending a stair. And that’s it. I get the idea – if everything was given to us on a plate straight away, all the work would be done for us. These books work best when our imagination goes into overdrive about what something looks like, where something is, what’s going to happen next, etc.

Still, the showdown with the Valkyrie is great monster-movie stuff, which goes to show how originally Robin has created his creatures. There’s no way you could imagine something like his Valkyrie fitting into the Wagnerian picture of the noble warrior women on horses. (Certainly I can’t see you getting 2.5 operas worth of romance out of this one!)

Speaking of Valkyries, this is probably a good time to share this little short story Initiation, which is tucked away on Robin’s website. It was possibly originally intended to be a prologue for The Raven’s Knot, but I suspect would have given the game away too early about the crow dolls. (As a first-time reader, I didn’t immediately make the connection between the dolls and the Valkryies.) But it’s a great back story of how Woden first unleashed his terror on Glastonbury.

Finally, I did not see that Sheila would turn out to be Neil’s Mum! A twist of fate worn by the Nornir? A great idea just to up the peril? It feels like more than just coincidence.

 

The Raven’s Knot | Chapter 20

RK

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Death approacheth,’ the raven cawed.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: That small paragraph describing the ‘crimson weft’ is quite the image, and I was surprised (and pleased) to discover that it is not just artistic licence on Robin’s part, but appears in the Njáls Saga. The Valkyries apparently also intone their grim intentions while weaving – considering some of the shrieks Sheila is described as making, I’m not sure I want to know what a singing Valkyrie sounds like!

In this chapter we see the loss-of-identity theme taken a little further, as Lauren’s stepmother turns on her. I’m reminded slightly of Meta and Pear, though I daresay Lauren is somewhat stronger in sense, and has perhaps more of a grip on the ordinary, having thus far lead a magic-free life.

I will say here that I would have liked her to have more of a voice in this book, and would’ve liked to have got to know her better as a character. Her dependability in a crisis and compassion for Sheila – despite her step-mother’s less than admirable qualities – really endears her to me. In among the ‘crimson wefts’ of this series, I feel we could do with a few more Laurens to stand against the foe, even in their own kitchen.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: There are certainly elements of classic horror films in this book and this chapter is a great example. It has everything we love to dread – Lauren wants to go back to the house, we’re all thinking, Are you crazy?

Then Neil follows and we’re thinking No!

Sheila is at home? Aargh!

We’re holding the book as far away from our face as we can possibly get when Lauren goes to speak to her mother.

And when Lauren announces there is no freaking key for the bedroom door and the NOISE STOPS?? Well, at that stage, I start getting unprintable. But I love it.

Especially Quoth. After all, if he’s worried, we all should be.

The Raven’s Knot | Chapter 19

RK

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Yet the crest of the Tor was not deserted, for a single, tall figure was standing up there waiting for them.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: I’d like to nominate this chapter header as my favourite for this book. There’s something about Verdandi, her serene expression and graceful pose, that arrests me every time I see it, and I can’t help but feel that this is a portrait from life. Who is this classically-beautiful woman who stars in The Raven’s Knot as the fairest of the Fates? It’s a curious mystery. I like to imagine that Miss Veronica might be based on an elderly lady that Mr Jarvis knew, and, in creating Verdandi, he drew from photographs of her in her youth. (I can only hope, if this is in some way accurate, that severe Miss Ursula is not also based on an acquaintance!)

 

Matt’s Thoughts: Well, this is getting more tragic by the minute, isn’t it? Veronica/Verdandi makes it to Glastonbury, uses up the last of her magic to appear beautiful for Woden and then it isn’t even him.

The thing that’s starting to stand out to me about this series is the way the kids get dragged into these extreme situations, all of which are engineered by adults attempting to out-maneuver each other – setting up elaborate plots and counter-plots, tricks and deceptions.

We know Woden – and particularly his Valkyries – are horrendous. But we’ve seen from Book 1, that Ursula can be pretty manipulative as well.

What there doesn’t appear to be is anyone who actually has the welfare of the kids in their mind. So Neil and Edie just seem to be alternately abandoned or dragged into increasingly dangerous situations. We get a feeling that those two will draw the most strength when they finally pair up and help each other, but as to how long that’s likely to take, who can tell?

The Raven’s Knot | Chapter 18

RK

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Those malevolent creatures the Gallows God created to overthrow the Nornir are back amongst us.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: The start of this chapter is one example of why I like Aidan so much. Thus far he’s been interesting, but somewhat overshadowed by, well, everything else. We are aware that he is a descendent of Askar, but up until this point we were never really shown what that entailed, other than alternative fashion sense and a propensity to hold forth at length about the histories of small English towns.

In the scene with the policemen, however, we get to see Aidan display some real power, trifling though it may seem in comparison to the Spinners of the Wood. What I like best about it is that it’s a little ambiguous – there’s no waving of hands or incantations, and it’s difficult to tell what he’s actually even done, but that somehow makes it all the more compelling. There’s also his jibes at the rotund sergeant – can he see into the man’s future, or is he simply ‘a good reader of people’?

 

Matt’s Thoughts: I strongly suspected that this was going to be the identify of this book’s nocturnal terrors, but when the word Valkyrie was first uttered, I got a thrill. Being only familiar with these creatures from the Wagner operas, where they are normally portrayed as warrior women on flying horses, it’s clear that Mr Jarvis has created his own dark incarnation of the creature.

Which is just brilliant, isn’t it? In fact, I almost feel like some Wikipedia editing is in place for the Valkyrie page to add another entry to the Valkyries in popular culture.

However, while I was excited by this part of the mythology, because it is placed in the context of a rather gruesome and serious police investigation, it doesn’t simply become a layer of mythology to this tale – it becomes a layer of dread.

Up Next | The Fatal Strand

FS

So, if you’ve been with us on the journey this far into the world of the Wyrd Museum, we have no doubt that you will want to join us in March to read The Fatal Strand. All the threads come together (sorry, couldn’t resist that one) as the final fate (or that one) of our characters is decided.

In physical or digital versions wherever you get your Jarvis books from!