The Fatal Strand | Chapter 25


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

It was then that he discovered he had no more tears to cry.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: If any of you have been wondering why I was suddenly adding messages from the beyond to the ends of the obituary posts for these books, now you know.

Neil’s meeting with Jean, so many years on, is one of the most moving moments in this trilogy, and I wanted to do homage to the encouragement he receives, not only from her, but also from Ted and Miss Celandine.

They might both have passed on, but in this world where time bends and warps according to the will of Fate, that doesn’t mean that they cannot be there for Neil and Edie when our young heroes most need it. As the trilogy finale nears its conclusion, it seems fitting to me that the words of those who are no longer living should give Neil the strength to fight for his own life, and the memories of those who once stood at his side.

Matt’s Thoughts: Like a great piece of music that knows where to slip in a nice alternating theme to break up the momentum, so is this scene that plays out on the Bethnal Green subway station. I know I’d been lamenting the coldness of all the pivotal characters in the last chapter – and maybe Mr Jarvis had been feeling it as well when he was writing it – but this little interlude is the exact antidote to that.

In that moment, where we hearken back to memories of Book 1, of Jean and Ted, we are reminded that love and kindness exists. No matter what else might be happening, if the world is falling apart, we can still inspire each other not to give up, but to band together and do the best we can.

And that’s all it takes. When Neil and Edie go back to the museum, we’re cheering them all the way and we’re confident that this will be the last battle.

I’d be curious also as to whether this is a deliberate nod to The Shining by Robin as well. In the finale of that story, a young boy also had to face down his father, a character who was a loser at the best of times and now – under the influence of a great evil – made even worse. I chose for the quote for this chapter that line where Neil discovers he had no more tears to cry, because it’s the moment where he really comes of age. He hits that point, which many of us do, where we realise that we are going to have to stand on our own two feet in life, independent of our parents. And maybe we even need to go against them. It’s just played out here on a cosmic scale.


2 thoughts on “The Fatal Strand | Chapter 25

  1. I don’t think I even read the Shining till long after this, I’d seen the movie but it wasn’t in my mind at all. I just think that there’s nothing more frightening than being betrayed or menaced by those closest to you. It strikes deeper than being hurt by strangers and so how do you deal and cope with that, specially if you’re only a child? It’s a theme I return to quite a lot.


    • I think it’s fair to say that betrayal – in all its forms – is definitely a strong recurring motif, and is one of the things that make your books hit so close to home for so many people.

      Having those closest to them turn (or be turned) into monsters is a fairly common hero’s trial across a variety of mythologies, and has been interpreted and reinterpreted in children’s fiction to make a variety of points. The betrayals in this trilogy (and the others we’ve covered so far) are an especially personal example of this, I think. We have grown attached to Neil, come to sympathise with his struggles, and so it hurts more when his father – who has already betrayed him by being a very poor parent but who we hoped might come good at the last minute – ends up turning against him completely instead.

      This personal touch, using characters who we root for and hope will turn out better than they appear, is an insightful way of exposing young readers to the idea of betrayal. Those who have experienced it in childhood will perhaps feel less alone, seeing their feelings represented by Neil, and those who haven’t will be safely made aware that not everyone will pull through when they expect. This also works for adults, since many of us have probably had moments in our lives where we felt we ‘didn’t know’ a family member or friend any more. Once again, Mr Jarvis’ work proves sadly relatable for readers of all ages, but it’s that relatability that keeps us coming back.


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