Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Faith is all we have now. Faith in the strength of the small, faith in the purity of their hearts. As it began with mice, so it shall end. That is the wisdom of the moon-sent angel. My blessing upon you, Young Whortle Nep, and remember my warning – beware the straw that walks.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: This is why I always say that Whortle’s Hope, though it might look fluffy, is actually weightier in terms of Deptford universe lore than Fleabee’s Fortune. There’s so much crammed into this one chapter about the fate of Fennywolde, of Whortle and the water voles, of Captain Fenny, and of the entire world that started with Albert Brown getting lost in the sewers.
Most intriguing to me is Fenny’s King Arthur-like sleep, and what will happen when his name is finally called by the chosen creature, whoever that may be. (It can’t be Whortle, since we know what’s in store for him.) I’m also very curious about what Woppenfrake says about Fenny having been ‘called back from the shadows’ by the spirit of the Glinty Water, following his murder.
This (kind of, sort of) ties into the theory I’ve been using in the Deptford obituaries, whereby those killed by Robin’s gods of evil are subjected to eternal torment rather than given the Green’s blessed peace, but it also raises questions about life after death the Deptford universe.
Who decides when a soul stays behind? Are there other spirits besides the Glinty Water who have the power to undo death itself? We know that Wendel, erstwhile high priest of Hobb, was able to walk the lands as a ghost, and that ‘Orace Baldmoney visited Fleabee from the beyond, but Woppenfrake implies that Fenny will come back physically. If that’s the case, will the illustrious Captain still be quite himself after centuries of slumber, or some kind of prophecy-fulfilling construct, like the vision of him Whortle saw when he first travelled into the past?
Lastly, there’s the revelation that the water voles know everything that will transpire in Fennywolde following the arrival of Audrey and Madame Akkikiyu. Suddenly, their indulgence of Whortle is made perfectly clear. Like the book itself, they’re letting a young mouse have some fun and fulfil a few dreams before he is horribly murdered before his time. (What a pleasant holiday read!)
Matt’s Thoughts: Ah, here’s another cameo I didn’t recognise at the time, because I left too much of a gap between reading The Oaken Throne and reading Whortle’s Hope. The Ancient – still around after all these years. And here he is, tragically warning Young Whortle to be aware of the straw that walks.
There’s a strange grimness to this book, that documents a lot of beauty and fun, and may well end on a happy note because we know that all of it will be swept away by Nicodemus. Or is this a metaphor for life? That we never know what heartache and misfortune might lurk around the corner?
It’s also not 100% clear to me exactly when the final cataclysmic event that will involve the return of Captain Fenny is going to occur. I have thoughts on this, but I’ll save them for the end of the book.