Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘You should be grovelling on your faces to be here, to witness the contract.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: When I first researched the word ‘ismus’, I was amused and confused by the fact that the closest approximation was ‘isthmus’, a slender strip of land connecting two larger land-masses over the sea. Once I’d finished the whole series, however, I understood perfectly.
This chapter, like the entire trilogy, is a classic Robin Jarvis set-piece given a new and modern twist. Just as his class and religious commentary has been modernised and sharpened for an older, 2011 audience, the ‘sea of cranes’ setting is a clever contrast to, say, the ruins of Whitby Abbey or the slopes of Glastonbury Tor. The future of grandiose Robiny occult doings is here, in a shabby industrial estate, and it is literally electrifying.
Matt’s Thoughts: Ah, thanks for that, Aufwader! I too had done a fair share of searching for Ismus and where it might have come from and was always somewhat puzzled. But your explanation makes sense. (And will hopefully make sense to all the rest of the readers when they reach the end of the trilogy!)
I don’ have much more to add to the description of this chapter. It is a classic Jarvis occult set-piece with spectacular lighting and sound effects. However, I think what makes this one worse is that the last few chapters have set up a particularly realistic ecosystem of grotty teenagers, down-and-outs, pop culture and general British realism. So in other words, unlike others of his books, where I have very much felt like I’m in an escapist fantasy reality, the setting of this story feels so authentic that it feels as if the occult magic has broken through into the real world. There’s just an increased sense of plausibility here that makes the whole thing darker.
To be honest, after reading this, I would be fascinated to see what would happen if Robin wrote a book for adults, with no constraints at all. One can only imagine what that might be like!