Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Like the music hall, this is.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: What a thoroughly wretched chapter. The stark realities of the Victorian workhouse are illustrated heartbreakingly in young Ned Billet and his mother, and I think we all gave a cheer when Edie intervened on Ned’s behalf instead of standing coldly by. It was also quite heartening to see Jack Timms genuinely afraid, proving that he really is nothing more then a hired thug, punching above his weight in this ill-fated alliance with Woden.
Rereading this chapter though, I was strongly reminded of another Robin Jarvis villain. Cut from the same cloth as Timms but with far more on his mind than random violence, Mister Dark borrowed power from the Lord’s of the Deep and flitted through time, wearing a variety of faces and tormenting small children. In Chapter 10 I commented that Dark was created in the mould of Nathaniel Crozier, but really, he’s Jack Timms 2.0. Not a proud linage, that’s for sure.
Matt’s Thoughts: For me, the disturbing thing about this chapter is that – never mind Jack Timms – the poverty and wretchedness of this scene are fairly well established as a historical reality. In English history. It’s not another race of beings, with their own ideas of cruelty. Our ancestors were the ones who let this sort of stuff go on.
But then again, as we distract ourselves with our Netflix and flashy mobile phones, who knows what’s happening in the back alleys of our own cities?
I actually appreciate Robin Jarvis’ increasing move towards reminding his readers that fictional supernatural horrors are pretty nasty, but humans don’t have a great reputation either.
In fact, I think Aufwader said it best on Twitter recently when she realised that the message of all Jarvis books is essentially: we can never completely overcome evil in this world, but we have to try.