Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘There ain’t not tales of Cap’n Fenny’s life here in Fennywolde,’ he began slowly. ‘Cos …he didn’t have one.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: This is what I was saying about pastoral horrors masquerading as friendly mouse adventures and so forth. They might be cushioned by rat sitcoms and frolics in sunny fields, but the Mouselets are still Robin Jarvis canon, and they can never quite gloss over the grotesque melodrama of their roots.
I have to say, there is a definite smugness to the reveal in this chapter; almost, dare I say it, a whisper of proto-Dancing Jax bitterness. What happened to the beloved hero of Fennywolde after he came to rest in his fair field with his weary band? Did he live out the remainder of his days in peace and contentment? Nah, kid, he hanged himself from that tree yonder.
Fenny’s demise is certainly as lonely, miserable and pathetic as every other Deptford revenge murder, from Vesper’s poisoning to Woodget’s drowning – perhaps more so, because Fenny was looked up to and adored by so many. It proves that there has always been a pall of horror over Fennywolde, that, far from being a tranquil idyll, it was cursed from the day it was named.
It also occurred to me on reread that the manner of Fenny’s death adds a truly horrible addendum to Whortle’s own demise in The Crystal Prison. How does he die? Throttled by the enchanted corn dolly, crying the alarm, which just happens to be the name of Fenny. You’re welcome.
Matt’s Thoughts: Well, there we go. There was no way that much sunshine and goodness could last very long. So here we have the dreadful backstory of what happened to Captain Fenny.
How morbid is all this? The whole place is called Fennywolde after the great hero who amazingly survived through to the end of The Oaken Throne – which we agreed statistically last year was the most violent Jarvis book. And yet it now turns out that, in addition to the dreadful fate which befell poor Vesper, Captain Fenny got bumped off at almost exactly the same time! What is it with malicious revenge killings in Jarvis books after the main villain has been dispatched??
But the bigger question, of course, is exactly how sinister does this make our water vole friends?