Warning: Contains Spoilers!
This was how he always remembered her, bathed in that gilding light.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: A lot of gut-churning revelations in this chapter, and some very important moments too. Lee trusting the others enough to tell them about his Castle Creeper power. Alisdair having a very profound, very sad, and quite emotionally mature realisation seeing that he’s made his own bed and regretting not being a part of the main group. Spencer still having the wherewithall to worry about other aberrants in other parts of the world, despite his own suicidal ideations.
And Charm. Oof. That’d be heavy in an adult series, but for teens to be reading about her ‘uncle’, someone she should have been able to trust, grooming her from a young age under the guise of helping her with her career? Incredibly important. It’s awful to say, but that small page of backstory could be a lifeline for a real young person in a position similar to Charm’s. It’s so powerful that she’s never blamed in any way, not for Bezuel’s nauseating attention, and not for the sick intentions of her mother’s boyfriend in the past.
It’s all the more painful when she describes the many dreams that Dancing Jax took away from her. Facing an uncertain fate in a world that has become a living hell, I think we can all agree that Charm deserved better from life. I can only hope that her time with Lee and the others will be the one good thing to come from the overwhelming evil of Austerly Fellows’ reign.
Matt’s Thoughts: A chapter that is simultaneously beautifully crafted and yet so full of bad news. Christina turns out to be the Ismus – which really leaves us open to the possibility that almost every plan of these kids is known in advance. The Punchinellos, with their grotesque costumes, are now becoming more distinct characters – but distinctly hideous.
Which all leads to the tragedy of Charm. Any suspicions we might have had about ‘Uncle Frank’ now become clear. But tragically – despite whatever we may have thought of her originally – we see a beautiful side to her personality. But clearly, with the type of foreshadowing we’re getting here, things are not going to end well.
One of the things I love most about this book is the arc of the kids’ journey – from obnoxiousness to vicious in-fighting to finally starting to become friends. It’s why I feel so sorry for Alisdair – in many ways, he had a good heart and was originally the one emerging as a leader at the beginning of the story, but now he’s found himself isolated away from the rest of the group.
The first Jax book might have been interspersed with moments of black comedy, but there’s not much left to laugh about here as we head into the final chapters of Freax and Rejex.