Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘What is this, a special night out from the loony bin?’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I love Robin’s ‘lesser of several evils’ approach to characterisation in this book. When she was first introduced, Emma seemed to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. She was spiteful, self-absorbed, and callous, with such awfulness to her name as beating another girl so badly that she almost ended up in hospital, and concealing crucial information about the Felixstowe Disaster from the police and parents of those who died. Not to mention her willingness to milk sympathy for her minor injuries and blackmail Conor.
However, set against Dancing Jacks and the perfidy of Austerly Fellows, Emma becomes a kind of anti-heroine. She might be a terrible person, Mr Jarvis seems to be saying, but better a terrible person with her identity (soul?) in one piece than a brainwashed Jill of Spades. We do end up rooting for her in the end, if only because she’s one of the few young people in Felixstowe who has put up any sort of resistance to the deadly book of devilish doom. We actually feel sorry for her when Mauger comes at her like the hounds of the Black Sceptre after Jennet, but for Emma, there’s no nun on a bicycle to save her in the nick of time.
Matt’s Thoughts: I wonder if Mr Jarvis has had a few acquaintances like this – or maybe it’s just the kind of person you encounter from time to time – but there is something impressive about Emma in this chapter. Completely obnoxious, nothing likable about her at all, totally self-centered.
And yet it is that unshakable ego that allows her to so recklessly stand up against the combined power of Dancing Jacks, when so many other people caved much more quickly. Somewhat like Scabmona, or Alison Sedge, she doesn’t take orders from anyone.
Is it any wonder they see her as the prime Jill of Spades?