The Deptford Mice Almanack | September

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The barren ploughed fields of the countryside are the haunt of many dangerous spirits throughout the cold months, but one of the most perilous is Nachteg. Also known as the Midnight Death Hag, she roams the empty fields in search of victims, from whom she sucks their blood. To prevent her crossing their thresholds this night, country mice strew rose stems before their doorways in the belief that she will prick her feet upon the thorns and be too preoccupied in drinking her own blood to bother anyone else. 

Aufwader’s Thoughts: I only really discovered the Almanack a few years ago, so having not grown up with it I was quite fuddled about a few of the colour illustrations. I thought that March’s high priest of Hobb was Wendel, forgot that Molly never actually holds Jupiter I in The Alchymist’s Cat, and I was sure, until I noticed her anti-fox charm, that the mouse above was Alison Sedge.

But who is this mysterious country maid? When have there ever been foxes in Fennywolde? Long ago, I surmise. Could this be Alison’s mother or grandmother in her youth? Another tit-bit of Almanack intrigue.

Notable dates this month include Leech’s, er, coronation of the 5th; the squirrel tradition of Wisdom Gathering on the 14th, and my favourite entry, the Night of Nachteg, quoted above, on the 16th. Part of me is sure that she was mentioned in Whortle’s Hope, but even if not, I like to imagine Whort and co. cowering in their den, shining Hodge’s lantern under their chins and telling grisly tales of this wight of the wolde.

Matt’s Thoughts: You know, it had never dawned on me before reading this month’s entry that Leech had drunk orange hair colour as well. That would explain a few things! That image of the crumbling chimney with him clinging to the roof was another unexpected gem in this book.

Also, because my birthday is 25 September – and it’s the big 4-0 this year – I was interested to read that I am apparently a Jammybeggar (unless that doesn’t apply in the Southern hemisphere!). And born two days after Thomas Triton. I do wonder what state he will be in by the end of this Almanack…

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