Warning: Contains Spoilers!
Without warning, Old Scratch tore from the scaffold, and Master Flye realised he was done for.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: What was I just saying about ominous plot developments? In one fell swoop, Jack Flye, our most reliable apprentice, is dead, Adam has lost his beloved mechanical sidekick, we have confirmation that Something’s Up With Brindle, and everybody’s being forced to set sail for London to appear before the Queen! From the reader’s point of view it comes out of nowhere, but for us, who have already progressed through two thirds of Robin Jarvis canon, it’s gratifying to see him experiment with a novel in three parts for the first time, and maybe change the pacing around a little.
Speaking of stories in three parts, this might be a good time to mention something that has only occurred to me on reread: Deathscent would make a truly outstanding musical. I’m not talking an all-singing, all-dancing, brightly-coloured and goofy palaver, but rather something dark and sensual in the vein of Elisabeth, or even the ballets of Matthew Bourne, with sumptuous period costume, looming sets, smoke machines in abundance, and sinister, poetical lyrics.
Work with me here. Picture a domed auditorium ceiling crossed with firmament-style lighting effects and studded with stars. Imagine genuine mechanicals built for the stage, nightboats coming and going, luminous astrological backgrounds, Henry and Adam’s hawks flying over the audience. Think of celestial choirs and devilish bellowing, Elizabethan lutes and pipes, sinister synth drones and wailing, anguished guitars. Now tell me you wouldn’t be first in line for tickets.
Matt’s Thoughts: Poor old Suet! I knew something like this was going to happen, but at least he went out heroically. And given that there seems to be something about ichors where a mechanical’s essence can be passed from creature to creature (e.g. O Mistress Mine passing from the musicians to Suet), that bit of black ichor might come in useful later on.
Great showdown between Old Scratch and, well, everyone else. Now that the hint has been dropped that Brindle might actually have drawn health and vitality from the conflict and ensuing tragedy (I know, creepy, right?), the title of this book takes on an even more unsettling meaning as we finish the second part.
I’m also starting to realise that Brindle is more grey than we think. He certainly has good manners and he seems to care, but is that an act? Does he have sinister motives that we have yet to see?
Either way, I strongly suspect that Part Three is going to be a cracker.
Finally, the illustration for this chapter – outstanding! There’s something so warrior-like about the image, and it perfectly complements Mr Jarvis’ words.