Warning: Contains Spoilers!
“Inside the box, pulsing and beating by loathsome craft – was Rhiannon’s very own heart.”
Aufwader’s Thoughts: It’s just occurred to me that the werlings might have another, unspoken power. What if, along with their shapeshifting gifts, they have the ability, like the little folk of old, to make mortal and immortal alike forget them, once they have passed by? If ever they possessed such a talent it must have waned over the ages, but it’s something to consider.
The Smith’s account of the terrors of the Hollow Hill definitely has its roots in traditional fairytales. As with the character of the Smith himself, here we see Mr Jarvis working with established motifs and themes in the story of vengeful Lady Morthanna and her unfortunate family. In this case, we have Snow White through the Robiny lens – Rhiannon, fairest and most jealous in the land, extracts her own heart in order to claim the throne. It’s all rather grim, if you ask me, and I don’t like the Smith’s chances if the Unseelie Court catch up with him.
Matt’s Thoughts: And so the back story is laid out. Dark secrets, siblings jostling for the throne and a (literally) heartless villainess. I’ve said before that the secret to Robin Jarvis books is that, instead of pitching strong, larger-than-life heroes against evil, it is small, fragile ordinary characters, like mice, children and werlings, who often do the great deeds.
It reminds us that any of us might be called upon – at very short notice – to have to show courage and tenacity. Whatever the consequences. And, speaking of consequences, we have a very Jarvis piece of foreshadowing in that last sentence: ‘Before morning, one of them would be slain.’